Holiday Wine Value Picks Under Fifteen Bucks


Buying wine for a group doesn’t have to be expensive, nor should you feel pressured to buy in bulk from a big box store. While you may be able to obtain twelve bottles of the same wine at a deeply discounted price, you risk boring your crowd with the same old wine for the entire day and into the night. (And you know they’ve had that wine a million times before.) A carefully curated selection of value-priced bottles creates a colorful collage of story-filled glasses on your table. Make up your own mixed case of marvelous wines for the holiday table! The web’s top wine writers are here to help you.
Year after year, the "Bila-Haut" range of wines from M. Chapoutier over-deliver for the price. The red, white and rosé offer great examples of the styles and values coming out of the Roussillon region of southern France. And given their food-friendly approach and sub-$15 cost, they're perfect for parties and holiday gatherings. The 2014 Côtes du Roussillon Villages Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rouge is a delicious blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan that is worth every bit of the $12 price tag. I get tart, smoky red fruit on the nose with floral and leathery aspects. A juicy wine with smooth tannic structure and medium acid, it provides plenty of red berry fruit topped with a significant amount of smoke, leather and grilled herbs. It would pair nicely with a range of slow cooked meats, roasted veggies or on its own with a cold evening and a roaring fire.
Isaac James Baker, Reading, Writing & Wine; contributor to Terroirist.
Forget mass-produced, butter-bomb Chardonnays during the holiday season! There may be inexpensive options, but Grüner Veltliner is a far better option in terms of both price and versatility. This Austrian white wine is widely available for under $15, and is characterized by bright acidity, citrus flavors, and clean, stony minerality. Familie Bauer Grüner Veltliner, a classic lemon-scented gem, is a staple in my house which pairs perfectly with creamy winter pastas, light fish dishes, and unexpected guests. 
Who says you can’t drink rosé in the wintertime? I lived off this wine all summer, and I’m thrilled to still see it on the shelves at my local shop. When I’m stressing about the holidays – whether it be about cooking, the weather, presents, or just chasing down my kids -- I don’t want something that’s going to relax me into a coma-like state. I want something that provides the opposite -- something refreshing and lively to keep me going strong. Like this gorgeous rosé. This lovely Rhone-style blend is super clean with fresh aromas of dusty strawberry, melon, pineapple, and a bit of bright lemony citrus.  It has some fun tropical flavors in the mouth, with almost creamy-like texture. Smooth, fresh, clean, and downright delicious.  Bonus factor is its excellent value, priced just under $15!  Great to sip alone pair with light appetizers, salads, salty foods, poultry, and seafood. Basically, perfect for any holiday party smorgasbord.
Region: Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Grapes: 70% Grenache Gris and Grenache Noir, 10% Mourvèdre, 10% Carignan, 10% Cinsault, 12.5% abv  |  $15 (Imported by Kermit Lynch)
Mary Cressler, Vindulge
Would you like to take your white wine experience to the next level, without having to spend "next level" money? If so, then you should explore the wines of Lugana. The Lugana D.O.C. is a wonderful source for savory Italian white wines that offer great detail and stand up to scrutiny. If you are simply looking for whites that go well with food, then Lugana is the right place again; these wines cry out for food pairings with their minerality, and savory acidity. Produced from a minimum of 90% Trebbiano di Lugana, with 10% other local white varietals, grown in the magnificent Lake Garda region, this is wine that will make your holiday guests stop and take notice. 
Quickly drawing you in, is the nose of dried herbs, lemongrass, and underbrush, draped over clean apricot, dried white flowers, and sea shells. The palate offers fresh green apple and dried pineapple notes with nutmeg and white minerals. Firm, supporting acidity carries the flavors through on the long finish. Thoroughly enjoyable!
This winter, I am heading back home for the holidays and I am already dreading it. I certainly love my family, and I know it will be good to see them, but it will not take long before I will need a glass of wine or seven to get through it. That is where the problem comes in: with one notable exception (me) the members of my family are not wine drinkers. My brother drinks Miller Lite (not Coors Lite), my sister drinks Pepsi (not Coke), and my mother drinks milk (Whole, not skim--although she will occasionally have a half a glass from the Franzia box of White Zinfandel that she has had in the fridge for the last four years). Yeah, pretty grim. In the past, within minutes of landing, I would head to the local wine store and put down a good chunk of cash to buy a few bottles of rather nice wine to consume over the course of my stay. I did that, at least in part, with the hope that I would be able to convert at least one of them into becoming a wine lover. Well, after a couple years of seeing nearly filled to the rim glasses of Chassagne-Montrachet get poured out after one sip, I have decided to head down a slightly different path. This year, I am still going to make my annual pilgrimage to the wine shop, but this time, I will grab a few bottles of wine that won't sting as much when my brother-in-law empties his red solo cup that I had just filled with wine in order to make himself a rum and coke (minus the coke). When I hit the store this go around, I am heading right for the 2014 Cline Mourvèdre Rosé (Retail $14). Cline wines are some of the best values in the market and they are fairly easy to find across the country. This rosé is one of my favorites and it meets my main criterion when going pink: It is a pressed wine (not a saignée), meaning the fruit was grown with the intention of making a rosé. It packs a delightfully fruity nose of strawberry and bing cherry and that fruit and the acidity compliment each other well on the palate, making this a great sipper as well as a bottle for the holiday table (yes, it is OK to drink rosé in the winter!). $14? Buy it like I plan to do: By the case. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
Jeff Kralik, The Drunken Cyclist
Ah, the holidays. Family gathers from near and far, festivities flourish and wine flows. And flows...and what to do? If you are like me, this is the crux of my holiday dilemma. Do we open that perfect bottle that our family may or may not appreciate? Or are we feeling a little "Grinchy?" Saving the best bottles to enjoy when no creatures are stirring, in peace, alone.  To solve this problem, I rely on a little help from my "friends." Les Copains, that is. McPherson Cellars produces some of the best wine in Texas at the most accessible prices. The Les Copains series covers the spectrum: white, pink, and red. I love them all, but at this time of year, I typically reach for red. It is Côtes-du-Rhône meets the High Plains of Texas. A blend of Cinsault, Syrah, Carignane, Mourvèdre, and Grenache, the wine is easy to drink, bright red fruit, a touch of spice, hint of the wide plains, fresh earth. This wine is versatile and inviting. And with wine priced around $13, you can invite even more friends to the party.
Alissa Leenher, Sahmmelier Wine Blog
A well-garnished Christmas dinner table, winewise, includes a refreshing yet tasty chilled white wine option. To keep your taste buds stimulated by exuberant flavors on seafood entrees and dishes (e.g. oysters, prawns, smoked salmon, and more), there is nothing like a well-chosen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. For the price, you can’t go wrong with Brancott Estate standard Sauvignon Blanc which includes its fair share of grassiness and tropical fruit aromas, and explosive grapefruit and passion fruit notes. The mouthfeel is acidic for a good pairing with food, and refreshing, yet balanced by the right touch of sweetness to please all palates at a family reunion. See the wine’s full tasting notes on Social Vignerons: Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc.
Julien Miquel,
For me, the holiday season is a time to slow down, take some much-needed time off work, and engage in unapologetic indulging while reconnecting with friends and family. Rather than laboring over the stove for hours, I usually volunteer to bring wine to our holiday gatherings with friends and family.  
To pair with a diverse range of foods and palates, I reach for one of the delicious and economical sparkling wines from Gruet. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Gruet was started by a brother and sister team that moved from the Champagne region of France to the U.S. over 30 years ago.  
At just $14 a bottle, the Gruet Blanc de Noir (blend of 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay) is widely considered one of the best values in American bubbly. Pale salmon color in the glass, this cuvee offers aromas of raspberry, strawberry, and apple along with flavors of pear, mineral with hints of brioche. With a frothy mousse, lively stream of bubbles and refreshing red berry acidity this wine is a crowd pleaser. 
Consider a bottle of Gruet sparkling wine for your holiday gathering.
Frank Morgan, Drink What YOU Like

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  • Snooth User: Bob Fyke
    Hand of Snooth
    141389 53,997

    Great choices for your holiday table, including my thoughts on @VinoLuganaDoc.

    Dec 23, 2015 at 7:55 AM

  • Excellent suggestions. I have had some of these like Gruet and I want to try some of the others. I like the focus on affordable wines from places other than California. Jeff Kralik's article was very funny. Thanks for sharing.

    Dec 23, 2015 at 1:37 PM

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