By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com
Ernest Hemingway described wine as "one of the most civilized things in the world," and some of the most celebrated bottles have sold for six figures at auction. Thankfully, though, drinking wine isn't exclusively a highbrow pursuit (and can sometimes lead to downright uncivilized behavior!). Even if you stick to a budget, you can still be overwhelmed by the available selection. Do you choose the ever-popular chardonnay or would a red wine pair better with Christmas dinner?
Related: Best inexpensive red winesEnjoy the holidays with a cheap wine!
At Cheapism we limited ourselves to a price point of $10 a bottle and found a number of appealing wines to choose from among all the major varietals. Below are the two reds and two whites that top our lists this holiday season.
- Dr. Loosen Red Slate Riesling (starting at $10) is a medium-bodied, dry white wine. We found positive reviews of the 2010 vintage, one of which noted that the low alcohol content of this wine (8.5%) makes it a wise pick for gatherings. Like other Rieslings, this wine releases an onslaught of fruity flavors. Think of peach, apple, and pear tickling your tongue while you enjoy brunch.
- Bodini Chardonnay (starting at $9) is an Argentinian white wine that may even appeal to so-called "ABCers" (who say they will drink "anything but chardonnay"). Only 30 percent of the wine is aged in barrels, so you'll taste mere hints of French oak rather than the overwhelming oak flavor of many chardonnays, which some find off-putting. This crisp wine also displays notes of lemon and green apple. It has received especially high ratings for the price point from both Wine Advocate (89 points) and International Wine Cellar (88 points).
- Melini Chianti Borghi d'Elsa 2010 (starting at $8), an Italian red, is described as intense and fragrant, as well as dry and only slightly tannic. Others have found it less expressive on the nose but still well-balanced and rich -- overall an excellent buy. Match this wine with other Italian classics such as pasta or pizza at a family gathering.
- Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon (starting at $9) is a fine budget rendition of a very popular varietal. The 2009 vintage of this Washington state red wine received a 90-point rating from Wine & Spirits magazine. It's described as smooth, with an aroma of berries and a slight sweetness. Like other cabernets, this will pair well with red meats, certain cheeses, and chocolate.
Related: Best inexpensive white wines
Everyone has a slightly different palate and preferences when it comes to wine, so when hosting a holiday party or dinner, it's nice to be able to offer guests a few bottles to choose from. The low prices and positive reviews of the picks above make them solid choices.
If you're interested in other varietals, Cheapism's full buying guides to cheap red wine and cheap white wine hold many more bargains.
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