These bottles are special enough for any special or holiday occasion, but the reasonable price tags invite you to enjoy them any day of the week.
Ravenswood 2012 zinfandel blend1. 2012 Ravenswood Vintners Blend "Old Vine" Zinfandel, California: The man who founded Ravenswood is widely regarded as the "godfather of Zin," so this is a name you should look for when buying this varietal, says wine consultant Leslie Sbrocco, author of Simple and Savvy Wine Guide and Wine for Women: A Guide to Pairing and Sharing. With notes of black cherry, raspberries, and blueberries, this mouthwatering, unapologetic wine also features a hint of smoke that gives it more body.
Pair with: Ribs or other spicy grilled meats. It also goes well with hearty pastas loaded with earthy veggies and tomato sauces. ($10; ravenswoodwinery.com)
Terrazas Malbec 20102. 2010 Terrazas de Los Andes, Malbec Reserva, Mendoza, Argentina: One of Argentina's top Malbec producers, this lushly styled red is a full-bodied beauty. Dark berry flavors marry with a peppery finish in a wine that showcases the best of Argentina. "If you like bold reds, this wine is for you. It's a wine worth twice the price," Sbrocco says.
Pair with: Meat, meat and, more meat, such as roast beef, and ham. It also works well with Portobello mushrooms and hearty soups. ($16; terrazasdelosandes.com)
Ruffino 2012 Pinot Grigio3. 2012 Ruffino "Lumina" Pinot Grigio, Delle Venezia, Italy: Ruffino is a trusted name in Italy as a classic producer of quality, affordable wines. Start out a holiday meal with a glass of this medium-bodied, elegant white wine, or enjoy it with a light weeknight dinner. It's incredibly versatile and extremely refreshing with a touch of fresh lemon and sage.
Pair with: Vegetarian dishes like herbed pastas or broiled or grilled fish. ($10; ruffino.com)
Segura Viudas Brut Cava4. Segura Viudas Brut, Cava, Spain: From Spanish producer Segura Viudas, this deliciously dry bubbly (Brut means dry when referring to sparkling wine) is light yet lush. Made in the northeastern part of the Penedès region of Spain near Barcelona, this is an affordable classic. "It's one of the best value bubblies on the market-period," Sbrocco says.
Pair with: Appetizers, from chips and salsa to shrimp cocktail. Sample with soft cheeses or light fish dishes. ($10; seguraviudasusa.com)
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc5. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc: "Kim Crawford was a key figure in putting New Zealand on the map in the United States for producing delicious, affordable Sauvignon Blanc," Sbrocco says. With aromas of passion fruit and fresh herbs and citrus flavors, this wine captures the essence of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
Pair with: Vegetarian dishes, herbed poultry dishes, and marinated and grilled seafood. "I love it with some grilled asparagus, a fillet of swordfish, and maybe a simple frisee salad with grapefruit segments, goat cheese, and a light vinaigrette," Latting says. ($20; kimcrawfordwines.com)
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Robert Mondavi Coastal Crush6. 2011 Robert Mondavi Private Selection "Coastal Crush" Red, California: This red blend benefits from the unique geology and climate of California's Central Coast, located midway between San Francisco and LA. With juicy aromas of ripe strawberry and raspberry, this food-friendly wine features Syrah most prominently, followed by Merlot and Malbec, Latting says. You'll also find touches of fruit, chocolate, spice, and a little smoke as you sip.
Pair with: Smoky foods like tacos, grilled meats or veggies, or wood-fired pizza. ($10; robertmondaviprivateselection.com)