Now Playing



12 Wines Under $12 That Won’t Embarrass You at Holiday Parties

Just scratch off the price tag and you’re good to go.

 

It would be a mistake to assume that all expensive wines are good and cheap wines are bad, no matter how much the furrowed brow of the BevMo clerk might tempt you to up your price point. Truth is, there are tons of tasty, high-quality wines that barely crack the two-digit mark, and plenty of expensive wines that are costly for all the wrong reasons. Whether you’re hosting the holiday feast or hate to be a guest showing up empty handed, here are 12 ways to stock the bar without breaking the bank.

Red and Rosé

Wine: Beaujolais Villages Gamay, from Louis Jadot
Price: $11.99 
Why it’s great: This is a juicy, crowd-pleasing wine with an elegant mouthfeel and fruit-forward flavors. The brand is reputable, the label is classy, and the gentle complexity of this wine makes it easy to pair with most white meats and red meats with lighter sauces. 
Where to buy it: wine.com and other online retailers

Wine: Oak Cask malbec, from Trapiche
Price: $10
Why it’s great: Wines from South America are typically a great value, and even the most stuck-up wine drinker will respect the fact that Wine Spectator gave this feisty puppy 88 points. A big wine from one of the oldest wineries in Argentina, Trapiche’s malbec brings flavors of dark fruit and berry, and enough acidity to pair nicely with wintery meals. 
Where to buy it: Target and Safeway

Wine: Cetamura Chianti (sangiovese), from Badia a Coltibuono
Price: $11
Why it’s great: Though it’s an elegant and somewhat complex wine, this is your easy-drinking, everyday Italian crowd pleaser. It pairs well with just about everything yet displays the classic funkiness of quintessential chianti. Many wines of this ilk get very low scores and can sometimes be considered boring, but this wine scores in the mid to high 80s and is quite fun. 
Where to buy it: wine.com and other online retailers

Wine: Black Forest red blend, from Cupcake Vineyards
Price: $10.99
Why it’s great: While some people may not take this wine seriously, the name elicits a generally positive response and it’s a good value. This new wine from Cupcake Vineyards is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, zinfandel, petit verdot and petite sirah. It’s well balanced, flavorful, and suits just about every palate. 
Where to buy it: Most major retail outlets and at cupcakevineyards.com 

Wine: rosé of cabernet sauvignon, from Mulderbosch Vineyards
Price: $10.99
Why it’s great: This single-varietal South African rosé is produced with 100 percent cabernet grapes, which leads to a gutsy, full-bodied pink wine that works well with winter flavors. It received a respectable 85 points from Wine Spectator, and will make for a refreshing addition to the reds and whites on your table.
Where to buy it: wine.com and other online retailers 


White and Sparkling

Wine: fumé blanc, from Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery
Price: $10.97 
Why it’s great: This is the flagship wine for Ferrari-Carano in Sonoma and a consistent winner with judges and home chefs. Much like a sauvignon blanc, this refreshing wine has sharp citrus notes and balanced sweetness and acidity.
Where to buy it: Total Wine has the best price, but you can find it at many retail locations

Wine: Crios, from Susana Balbo Wines
Price: $11.95
Why it’s great: Crios is made from 100 percent torrontés, said to be Argentina’s most famous white varietal. It’s got a smooth texture and is bright, fresh, and light on acid. 
Where to buy it: BevMo, Dragers, Costco, the Jug Shop, Total Wine, and K&L Wine Merchants

Wine: Cristalino brut cava, from Jaume Serra
Price: $8.99–$12
Why it’s great: This Spanish cava is an elegant and refreshing sparkling wine with a zesty nose and crisp citrus flavors. Hints of green apple and sweetness make for a playful palate, while the acidic and mineral flavors keep it from tasting like dessert. 
Where to buy it: Mike’s Liquors in San Francisco and wine.com

Wine: Luberon Blanc, from Bonpas
Price: $10.99
Why it’s great: The wine smells of fresh summer fruits like peach, apricot, and mango.  It has fresh, lively flavors of citrus fruit and flower blossoms. A well-balanced treat that is perfect to pour chilled as you welcome guests or pair with light bites and buttery dishes. 
Where to buy it: Faletti Foods and select Whole Foods in San Francisco

Wine: Centorri Moscato, from Eleanor Estate, aka the Ladies of Moscato 
Price: $10
Why it’s great: Hailing from a winery owned and managed by women, this moscato is a perfect accompaniment for ice cream and other desserts. It’s also a fun wine for celebration because it’s light and sweet, not syrupy or heavy. 
Where to buy it: Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Provisions and wine.com 

Wine: pinot grigio, from Cantina Riff
Price: $10
Why it’s great: The Riff pinot grigio reflects the expertise of acclaimed winegrower Alois Lageder. This is a dry, crisp wine that will suit the palate of those who like only a hint of sweetness and appreciate minerality and earthiness. 
Where to buy it: wine.com and other online retailers 

Wine: Coast Select chardonnay, from Fortant
Price: $10.99
Why it’s great: A brilliant straw yellow color, this wine smells of nectarine, white flowers, and honey. Tropical flavors are clearly present, but ultimately the acidity and roundness keep the sweetness in check.
Where to buy it: The Jug Shop in San Francisco and Foodtown in Pacifica

  

Have feedback? Email us at letterssf@sanfranmag.com
Email Ian White at iwhite@modernluxury.com
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag
Follow Ian White on Twitter @InsiderNapa