It's that time of year when your wine glass is hardly ever empty, and I fully believe that your wallet doesn't need to be empty because of it. In fact, $12 is typically my wine limit no matter the time of year, and you really can get a decent bottle of wine at that price point.
These are my suggestions for great wines on a budget, all of which are available at your local wine and spirits store. Did you know that you also could visit Fine Wine & Good Spirits online to locate a wine or see if it's in stock? I do this all the time. Just be sure to act fast with the ones on sale.
Oh, and here's a party tip: Size does matter. Don't buy that 1.5-liter, "big-boy" bottle simply because it might be slightly cheaper. Guests usually assume that it contains cheap wine, and it's also a bit unwieldy to pour. Cheers!
Price: $9.99 (reg. $11.99)
The jammy likability of this zinfandel-syrah-merlot-cabernet sauvignon blend is probably why it's such a popular choice this holiday season. In fact, Apothic Red has gotten rave reviews at my family get-togethers, most recently at Thanksgiving. This mélange of dark berries offers a full-bodied wine that is oh-so-velvety smooth. Simply put, it goes down easy.
Origin: New Zealand
Right now, the southern hemisphere is enjoying Christmas in the summertime. But you can get the same experience by opening up a bottle of Monkey Bay. The pleasantly dominant grapefruit and lime flavors, followed by pineapple and fresh-cut grass, will serve as your very own bit of paradise.
Price: $9.99 (reg. $11.99)
Channel your inner rock star with this off-dry red blend, which smoothly croons its strawberry and raspberry notes. The wine's ruby-red hue is certainly festive and makes for a tune you can't resist. So grab a glass and rock it out with Red Guitar.
To me, torrontes — Argentina's signature varietal — is one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to white wines. Do you enjoy the citrus qualities of a New Zealand sauvignon blanc? If so, torrontes is the next logical step. If ever there were a garden filled with jasmine and lime trees, it would sum up the essence of this wine.
Price: $9.99 (reg. $12.99)
In case you're wondering, Gnarly Head gets its name from the type of gnarled, head-trained vines at its winery. The resulting wine is bold yet approachable with intense flavors of dark berries, plum and pepper that can stand up to even the richest holiday dishes. Go bold or go home.
Growing up in an Italian family, pinot grigio was our table wine. So I feel everyone needs a budget pinot grigio in their back pocket. Oh, heck, everyone could probably use one in their stocking, too! While it's a simple wine, it's also very refreshing and crisp with a light citrus and floral finish.
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