Six Affordable Holiday Wines
Photos & information courtesy Carolyn Hammond
Professional wine writer Carolyn Hammond is the author of Good Better Best Wines: A No-Nonsense Guide to Popular Wines.
It's a fantastic book designed to help you make the best choices when shopping for affordable wines that are widely distributed and easy to find.
She's chosen three reds and three whites that pair nicely with traditional holiday foods. These selections should be readily available in liquor stores and supermarkets, and all are $20 or less.
Read through the tasting notes to find what suits your menu (and your taste) the best.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Dry Riesling
Washington, USA (about $12)
A rather austere, mineral style of Riesling with lean lime, green apple and cantaloupe flavors and aromas. Versatile wine for food pairing. Well-balanced and crisp. Medium-bodied. 13% alc.
Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay
California, USA (about $14)
Coconut and tropical fruit cocktail nose leads to fresh flavors of juicy pineapple, marzipan and toasted coconut. Seductive coconut cream finish. Long. Seamlessly integrated oak and pristine purity of fruit creates quite a stylish, refined wine. Full-bodied and beautifully balanced. 13.5% alc.
Conundrum White Table Wine
California, USA (about $20)
This current cult white blend starts with fragrant honeysuckle and cut tangerine before attacking the palate with a good lick of Granny Smith apple, ripe apricot and pear. Breezy, vivacious wine with a quick dash of spice and vanilla adding interest to the blend. Full-bodied and ripe.
Big House Red
California, USA (about $7)
Subtle berry aromas lead to a riveting attack of mixed berry flavors layered with leather, chocolate, smoke, and a warm meatiness with an earthy undertow. This seriously complex and seamless blend of 10 red grape varieties tastes lifted and stylish rather than heavy and brawny, finishing with a dark chocolaty finish that feels polished to a high sheen. Full-bodied with 13.5% alc.
Mark West Pinot Noir
Sonoma County, California, USA (about $11)
What delicious wine! Aromatic flavors of raspberries, violets, vanilla and spice characterize this richly fruited, seductive Pinot Noir with resonating length. Along with considerable concentration, this wine is silky yet well-structured with taut acidity and soft, supple tannins. Such finesse! Full-bodied with 13.8% alc.
Beringer Third Century Pinot Noir
Central Coast, California, USA (about $13)
Lush nose of super-ripe raspberries leads to a ripe raspberry jam palate that evolves toward flavors of violet, beetroot, and earthy woodlands resonating on the finish. Pinot Noir lovers will appreciate the subtle nod to this noble varietal's heartland--Burgundy. Full-bodied with 13.9% alc.