Cheers to the Holidays: 10 Affordable Wines Perfect for the Season


Everybody thinks that the turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie are holiday dinner essentials, but they've never dined with your family, have they? You know the real star of the show is the case of wine hiding in the corner to help you get through the holiday.

This year, save some money on your saving grace by stocking up on budget bottles to kick off this annual season of giving (and breathing very deeply). Thus, here are 10 fresh and flavorful picks to help you conserve cash and sanity this Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa — all $15 or less.

2012 Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc


We start drinking early on Thanksgiving Day in my family — if only to recharge after a night of pre-holiday festivities ("Black Wednesday" is the biggest night out of the year, dontcha know) — and the 2012 Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc is a nice wine to dip into after breakfast as we prepare the midday snacks. It opens with crisp and refreshing aromas of grapefruit and lemon citrus with subtle grassy characters that lead into a clean finish. Perfectly fine all by its lonesome, the Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc also complements shellfish, like a cold shrimp cocktail before the afternoon's games kick off.

2012 A to Z Chardonnay


Oregon isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think of on-the-mark wine, but the A to Z Oregon Chardonnay may change that. With a pop of the cork, aromas of kiwi, tangerine, white peach, and quince waft from the glass, followed by deeper, more complex aromas like honey, melon, and beeswax. Upon first swish, notes of pear and toasted coconut reveal themselves in a concentration balanced by firm acidity that provides vitality and persistence. Pair with salmon rillettes to tide company over until supper is served.

Palacio de Borno Verdejo Rueda


If you're forgoing a turkey this Thanksgiving in favor of a more exotic meal — say, something with a Spanish flair — then you might want to try the 2012 Palacio de Borno Verdejo Rueda from Rueda, Spain. The Rueda region of Spain excels at producing crisp, minerally white wines made from the Verdejo grape. The favorite white wine of Spanish natives, this particular Rueda is a perfect example of the fruity and incredibly pure Rueda style. Consider sharing a glass with your amigos as you munch on tapas of chorizo and cheese.

Rey Santo Rueda


Another great pick from the Rueda region of Spain is the 2012 Rey Santo Rueda, a smooth blend of 50% Viura and 50% Verdejo grapes that produce a fine nose of pineapple and passion fruit aromatics with mineral notes. Rich and well structured on the palate, this Rueda pairs well with roasted fish and chicken.

Skinnygirl Chardonnay


Watching your weight around the holidays? That's no fun — but you'll have an easier time choosing between another drink or a second dessert if Skinnygirl Chardonnay is on the menu. A complex combination of white peach, French oak vanilla, and orange blossoms, this wine with a light finish and rich flavors lets you leave room for one more smidge of pie with zero smidges of guilt.

2012 Hahn Winery Pinot Noir


Hailing from California, this Hahn Winery Pinot Noir harvested in fall 2012 provides aromas of dried plums, black currants, and cola, while notes of black cherry, vanilla, and spice linger on the palate. A silky mouthfeel builds on fresh acidity as you savor its depth of flavor — after an appreciative pause for its deep purple color. Perfect for serving with a nontraditional bird, such as duck, goose, squab, or pheasant, or a well-braised rabbit.

2011 Rocca di Castagnoli Chianti


As long as you're not serving fava beans as a side dish, you can offer this Chianti from Rocca di Castagnoli without inciting fright. Ripe notes of pomegranate and mulberry lead into secondary notes of balsamic, tomato, braised fennel, and herbs, making it the perfect complement to a savory Italian-style feast. Pair with an al dente pasta with a robust red sauce.

Terra Fossil Cabernet Mendoza


Born from hand-selected grapes from Mendoza, Argentina, this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Terra Fossil features complex aromas of dark fruits, spices, and black pepper to complement a strong, elegant, full-bodied structure. Well balanced with velvety tannins, this mature red wine pairs well with spicy dishes and game, including lamb and bison.

Casa Larga Cab-Merlot


If chocolate dishes are on the dessert table, you'll want to pour a glass of Casa Larga Vineyard's medium-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and enjoy an extra special treat as you wash all that deliciousness down. Dark berry and oak aromas complement a velvety palate developed as a result of grapes hand picked very late in the season to maximize ripeness and tannin development.

The Gambler Malbec


After all the dishes and children are tucked away for the evening, break out the cards, dice, and dollar bills for some family-friendly competition. "The Gambler" Malbec from Cultivate Wines is just what the Maverick ordered for these reindeer games with its broad and brawny mouthfeel of blue and black fruits, leather, and spice. Better still, Cultivate Wines donates 10 cents of every dollar in gross sales to local charities across the United States — so you won't feel as bad about downing a few bottles in a single sitting.

What're your favorite affordable wines for the holidays?

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Guest's picture

I also love the Alamos Malbec - also affordable and typically under $10!

Guest's picture

I must say I am always disappointed with frugal wine pickings because I find nothing frugal about a $15 bottle of wine. I go to Trader Joe's and local wine shops and pay mostly less than $5 for a great bottle of wine and sometimes I will pick a $5-$10 bottle of wine that is just as good.

Guest's picture

I really like the Terra Fossil Malbec. Affordable. Cool label. Great wine and great taste!