WHAT A WINE GEEK DRINKS ON A BUDGET: Holiday Edition
By Maggie Walters
I hope everyone is ready for this! I have put together an epic list of Wine Geek budget picks for anything your dinner table throws at you this festive season. It includes bubbles, crisp white wines, full-bodied white wines, light red wines, easy drinking red blends, heavy reds, and, last but not least, a couple of dessert wines.
I did my best to feature some great hits for budget wines. As you know this means straying from the main path. I've got some really tasty fermented grape juice features from Argentina, Spain, France, Italy and even a couple from California. As always, all bottles are indeed $15 and under. Happy Holidays!
Whether you need some bubbles for mimosas, a welcome wine or to pair with food, I've got you covered! Both of these wines hale from Mendoza, Argentina (hello value area) and are great for any occasion. I even went with a sparkling white and a sparkling rose to give you two solid options.
Pascual Toso Brut Nature Cuvee – Sale: $14.99
This wine is made by the Pascual Toso winery out of Argentina. The two grapes making this wine are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (also two of the main grapes in Champagne) and is made in the same Champagne method. Brut Nature means that they are adding NO dosage to the wine before corking, so even drier than brut. This wine has notes of apple and hazelnut, followed by a delicious baked bread note that Champagne method wines are so well known for!
On a side note if you are looking for a go-to mimosa wine I highly recommend trying their regular Toso sparkling wine. It's on sale for $7.99 and it makes a killer cocktail wine.
Gouguenheim Malbec Rose, Extra Brut – Sale: $9.98
100% Malbec, smells of dried red fruits and berries. The acidity in this wine is a great way to get your palate ready for the evening, and is great with food. It's dry, pink, bubbly, fully of flavor and easy to please anyone on your guest list. The name is pretty fun to say too!
Honoro Vera Rueda – Reg. price: $9.99
Rueda is the name of this Spanish wine region and is a hot spot for good value white wine. Verdejo, Viura, and Sauvignon Blanc are the three varietals being blended to make up this super tasty and uber affordable wine. This wine definitely goes under the "quaff-able" category for me. If you like Sav. Blancs, you're going to love this wine. The label is kinda cool too!
Tercos Torrontes – Sale $9.98
Torrontes, one of the most unrecognized white grapes out there. It is a true native to Argentina, and is exclusively grown there. This high acid, refreshing white is tasty on its own and works as a great balancing act to foods rich and heavy. Tropical fruits and citrus is what this wine is all about with some peach and melon notes thrown in as well. This wine doesn't see any oak so it's all about the fresh fruit profile. I would recommend this wine to anyone who enjoys Sav. Blanc and Albarino.
Five Rows Chardonnay – Sale: $13.98
What's the first thing that comes to mind when anyone mentions a heavy white wine? A good ole Chardonnay. I didn't want to swim too much against the flow here with this one. A buttery Chardonnay is a classic pairing for heavy, creamy foods, and around the holidays there's definitely a lot of rich foods to go around! This is a full, french oaked Chardonnay. It's got you covered from many different directions. It's good for foods with smoke, foods with baking spices, creamy foods, seafood, poultry, and the list goes on.... The wine is balanced, well made, AND under $15. You're Aunt Martha who drinks exclusively Chardonnay will thank you for serving this!
Fulcrum Anderson Valley Dry Gewurztraminer – Sale: $14.98
Only 265 cases produced!! Gewurztraminer is definitely another one of those "classic" grape varieties for the holidays. This wine is from Anderson Valley California, although most wines of these varieties are seen in Alsace, France. Fret not, the winemaker really knows his stuff! This wine is full of floral notes, rich pear and a delicious hint of ginger spice. Gewurtz, after all, means spicy in the German language! This wine is luscious and rich without oak and malolactic enhancements like the Chardonnay mentioned previously.
Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils Beaujolais, France – Sale $11.99
Gamay grapes, grown in clay and limestone soils in the most southern part of Burgundy (referred to as Beaujolais), hail a wine named after its region. Domaine Dupeuble has been making wine almost continuously since 1512 and the vines average in age at 75 years. So they've had a few years to work out the kinks. The grapes are harvested manually and vinified completely without SO2. So for anyone on the no sulfite bandwagon, this is for you! This is a Kermit Lynch imported wine, and as I may have mentioned before in other blogs, he kinda imports some amazing wines. Yet another wine tied to Thanksgiving; Beaujolais. This wine however is not the Beaujolais Nouveau that comes out the third Thursday of November, conveniently exactly one week before Thanksgiving. This wine drinks more like a light Pinot Noir. It's a light red wine with loads of acidity that smells of stewed berries and violets. This "quaff-able" red is good stuff!
CROWD PLEASING RED BLENDS
I find that red blends often have a lot of versatility, so when you don't exactly know who's bringing what to the dinner table and you don't exactly know who drinks what, red blend is typically a safe bet. However, these safe bets are anything but boring!
Can Blau, Red Blend, Spain – Sale- $13.98
I personally nod towards reds with a little weight in them when it's time to enjoy a meal. This red blend from Spain definitely hits the spot. Cellars Can Blau have 35Ha of vineyards, aged, on average, 40 years. Each variety in this blend (Carignan, Grenache, Syrah) is grown in a different spot in the vineyard on a soil type that best suits the need of the grape. This wine is matured for 12 months in French oak barrels which gives it just enough smoke to balance the dark fruits and lavender profile. This red blend is mouth filling and over-delivers in value!
Hahn GSM – Reg. priced- $14.99
GSM is a wine named from the first three letters of each of the grape names: Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. Hahn makes some really great everyday drinkers, unfortunately I couldn't make a blog all about one producer (variety is the spice of life after all). This GSM is my favorite of their everyday lineup (they also have an ah-mazing single vineyard Pinot, but that is unfortunately not a budget wine!). You've got something from all three grapes in your glass; Grenache brings the red fruit, Syrah brings the dark fruit and black pepper, and the Mourvedre adds some body and texture. It's a perfect match up!
If you have a decanter, you're going to want to pull it out for these wines! Believe it or not you can get some amazing grippy, chewy, heavy reds for $15 bucks. They are worth you and your decanter's attention. If you don't have one, we have plenty to choose from in the shop.
Shannon Ridge Petite Sirah – Reg. price: $14.99
This wine is from Lake County California, which is just north of Napa. The winemaker has one main goal: to grow varietals well suited for the region allowing a hands off approach to the actual winemaking process. I think she hit the nail on the head! Just to clear the air, Petite Sirah is indeed a grape variety of its own. This grape produces dark inky wines that will stain your teeth and make an amazing pairing with your T-Bone steak and rack of lamb.
Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon – Sale: $14.99
Yes there is a red wine from Argentina that is in fact not Malbec. I joke but you'd be surprised to know how many people shy away from trying a different variety from this region. The land that the Cabernet specifically grows on has been stewarded for over 500 years! This wine is grown and made all bio-dynamically (which is even cleaner than organically). This wine is big, chewy and has an amazingly long finish. One of the best hidden gems I've stumbled across yet for a Cab!
Whether this wine is for your great uncle Marvin who refuses to drink anything other than sweet wine, or you want to feature a wine at the dessert table, these wines are worth checking out!
Kermit Lynch Sori Gramella Moscato D'Asti – Sale: $14.98
Yet another great Kermit Lynch import! This wine is not cheap syrupy juice that is reminiscent of your college days. This Moscato is delicately sweet yet balanced with bright citrus acidity, and bubbles that dance on your tongue. If you want to feature this wine as a pairing for your dessert course I highly recommend trying it with an apple dessert, berry dessert, meringue fruit pie, cobbler or dessert breads like the iced lemon bread you see in Starbucks.
Rosa Di Rosa – Sale: 11.98
This is a half sweet, half sparkling red wine from northern Italy. This wine smells like your grandma is making a triple berry pie and the aroma of the stewed fruit just hits you in the face, coupled with rose petals. In short, it smells amazing. This wine shines with anything chocolate! Chocolate pie, brownies, mousse, truffles, pudding, etc. It's a match made in heaven! It also works really well with shortcakes and fruit tarts.
All sale prices are accurate at time of posting.