Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers

Wine gifts for everyone


I've been making lots of gift recommendations lately, many of which have been fairly specific, like $20 Pinot Noir or premium Grenache-based wines. But what can you do when you don't know the tastes of the person you're buying wine for?

The safe bet is to stick to something with broad appeal, and name recognition doesn't hurt either. Packaging might come into play as well, since we all know that something like wine, a gift that may not be enjoyed for days or weeks, is often judged by its appearance.

While these choices may not be the best in their category, or my favorites for that matter, that is not the point here. The point is to feel good about giving a gift that has a good chance of being well received and enjoyed. So check out my choices. I've broken them down by price points to help you easily narrow your search.

Happy hunting!

Photo courtesy spaceninja via Flickr/CC

Under $10 Stocking Stuffers - Reds

It's tough finding really attractive wines under $10, but it isn't impossible. One of the tricks in finding real values is to look where few others are. This almost makes it impossible to meet some of the gifting criteria I laid out, but if you want to shop at this price point, you're going to have to rely on the quality of the wine to make the gift wow.

I would suggest Portugal as one place to look. Great wines are being made, but the grapes are unfamiliar and the country has a bit of a mixed reputation for wine, so consumers tend to tread lightly.  My recent favorite has been the fantastic 2008 Cabriz Colheita Seleccionada Dao.

Though other options can be found by reading 8 Great Wines of Portugal's Alentejo.

Under $10 Stocking Stuffers - Reds

Chile's Carmenere also offers consumers great value, though with its strikingly herbal aromatics, many people shy away from the grape. Of course, once people try the wines, supple yet structured with flavors similar to Cabernet and a texture more akin to Merlot, many become instant converts to the cult of Carmenere!

Concha y Toro's Frontera line is really budget-priced but a nice introduction to the varietal. For more on Carmenere check out Discovering Carmenere.

Under $10 Stocking Stuffers - Whites

Here's a wine category you can really get into, Chardonnay! Yes, it may be red wine weather, but there are plenty of people out there who swear by Chardonnay. Trying to convince them to drink something else can be as hard as getting a dog to dance. Sure it can be done, but you know, it's not that pretty.

Some great choices among inexpensive Chardonnays include the ultra affordable 2010 Round Hill which is available for about $8 a bottle, and less than $15 for a magnum. It's the perfect holiday party Chardonnay! See more options in Chardonnay Under $10.

Under $10 Stocking Stuffers - Whites

Turning back to the esoteric, if Spanish whites can be considered esoteric, I recently tasted this little number from Spain, the 2009 Marques de Alella. I even tasted on video!

This is some killer wine at the price. It looks good and totally drinks above its pay grade, so make sure to buy an extra bottle for yourself! It's made from the little known Pansa Blanca grape, so i's even a great wine for a geek. I hadn't knowingly tasted Pansa Blanca before this, but now I can't wait to learn more about it.

Check out some other Spanish value wines made with the versatile and more familiar Verdejo grape.

Under $15 Stocking Stuffers - Sparkling

Here I have to admit to being totally biased. I'm going to root for the home team, which in my case is Italy, and more specifically the north of the country. A lot of people don't realize just how much sparkling wine is produced in Italy and how well priced many are.  I'll be tasting tons of sparkling wines in the coming days, but if you're out shopping now, you could do a lot worse than picking up one of the bubblies from Trentino's Rotari winery. The Brut is right around $10 a bottle and it combines a subtle Champagne-like yeasty/toasty nuance with a bright, fresh fruit character that makes this super approachable and easy to love.

Another great alternative would be the Fantinel Brut Rose, which is all about delicious, easy to enjoy fruit. It proved to be a huge hit this summer when we served it at one of our Snooth events. Seriously, this is fun in a bottle.

Photo courtesy zpeckler via Flickr/CC

A Great White For Gifting

The 2010 Regaleali Bianco is a lovely wine, it is elegant, fresh and deceptive. This $12 wine drinks like a wine costing twice the price and comes in a tall, elegant bottle. This is a consistent winner in my house and one that almost everyone will love.

A Great Red For Gifting

Everyone loves a good Cabernet, problem is finding one that is priced well too. Look no more. You want good value in a mini blockbuster of a Cabernet? The 2009 Ancient Peaks Cabernet from Paso Robles is all that and more. This is one heck of a wine, and with pricing ranging from about $14 a bottle to $17 a bottle direct from the winery, this is a Cabernet to buy by the case. It comes in a big, heavy bottle, perfect for gifting!

One of the best deals of the year. Period.

The 2001 La Rioja Ata Vina Ardanza Reserva Especial has gotten a lot of play on Snooth over the past few months, and it's all justly deserved. This is one of the buys of the year, readily available well under $30 a bottle. It's a wine that is drinking well today and can be cellared for a decade or longer. It's from a killer vintage and received the rarely used "Reserva Especial" moniker, which in itself means nothing, though it does add to the bottle's curb appeal. Even though the wording could be meaningless, in this case, it's truly being used to denote a special wine. Give yourself a gift of a bottle or three and see if you don't agree.

See other reviewed Gran Reservas

Want to Learn More?

Be sure and check out our Holiday Gift Guide to Decanters!

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