9 Wines for $19 and under
Next time you’re headed to a dinner party and plan to bring a bottle of wine, don’t think you need to break the bank to impress your hostess. It ‘s easy for the average social drinker to be overwhelmed by the vast selection in the wine store, but when it comes to vino, cost is not always an indication of quality. Next time you throw a party or simply want to unwind with a glass of wine, look for a mid-range varietal that will complement your favorite foods as well as stand-alone.
2007 Bianchi Zen Ranch Zinfandel
Zinfandel is more than just a pale pink blush wine that sits on the discount shelves at wine stores. If you're searching for a versatile wine for a dinner party, look for a varietal that has a balanced blend of spice and a hint of cherry, such as the Zen Ranch Red Ziinfandel, which pairs nicely with just about anything – from chicken and seafood to red meat or lamb.
Murphy's Law Riesling
If you like to drink light, sweet wines you have a lot of options to choose from at the wine shop. The problem with some Riesling varietals is that they can be cloyingly sweet. Murphy's Law is a vibrant, full-flavored wine that would make the perfect apertif and pair nicely with spicy flavors in certain ethnic cuisines, like Thai and Mexican.
The Big Red Table Wine
If you're not a frequent red wine drinker or are beginning to make the transition from lighter whites to full-bodied reds, The Big Red Table Wine is a perfect stepping stone. With floral notes and essences of fresh fruits and berries, this is a delicious wine that will cut the flavor of your favorite savory, seasonal comfort food, like spicy beef chili that has a little kick to it.
No Sauvignon Blanc
Have you ever said no to Sauvignon Blanc? If you haven't, you're going to want to. From the NO family of wines, the un-oaked Chardonnay is hard not to like, but it was the Sauvignon Blanc that really won me over. It has a crisp, refreshing finish that would go well with light cream based pasta dishes or a balance of sweet and savory, like lemon chicken. They are sealed with screw-cap closures for added freshness, quality – and portability, which is perfect if you're wrapping up the sunshine-y season with outdoor picnics.
William Fevre Champs Royeaux Chablis
When you hear Chablis, you might think of the boxed or jug wine that borrowed the Chablis name. If you're an "ABC" drinker (Anything But Chardonnay) you'll want to call a truce and pick up a glass – or bottle – of 2008 William Fevre Champs Royeaux Chablis. This wine is full of tart-apple and crisp lemon and without oak aging, it tastes surprisingly light and smooth.
La Marca Prosecco
New Year's Eve isn't the only time to celebrate with a little bubbly. La Marca Prosecco is a sparkling wine made in the Trevisio area of Northern Italy. With a clean flavor that hints at ripe citrus, green apple and touches of grapefruit, it has a light and refreshing finish. La Marca Prosecco has enough charm to stand alone as an aperitif, but it also has the body and the acidity to match well with a range of fragrant and spicy dishes. Try it with seafood, mild cheeses and any tomato-rich dish.
2007 Bianchi Moscato
When you're purchasing wine for a dinner party, don't forget about dessert. While some sweet wines can be overpowering, a simple, palate-cleansing Moscato can be a delightful way to follow a rich meal. With ethereal orange blossom and kumquat flavors, this would be a nice complement to fruit-based desserts and an equally nice contrast to richer chocolate desserts. If you're at a loss for ideas, use up the last of the season's fresh peaches and pair with a not-too-sweet peach upside down cake.
Hailing from Argentina, Alamos Malbec is the perfect, dark purple wine to sip on a cool evening in front of the fireplace. Hand-tailored from Argentina's first family of wine, this particular Malbec has a deep, garnet hue and has a sweet finish, which is unusual for full, red wines. Pair with seasonal fall vegetables like butternut squash, roasted root vegetables or rich pork, chicken and beef dishes.
VOGA Pinot Grigio
With a sleek, recognizable bottle, VOGA wines may have already jumped at you from the shelves at your local wine shop. A fun wine to tote along to a party as a hostess gift – or for your guests to enjoy – VOGA Pinot Grigio is just simple enough for the inexperienced wine drinker while offering quality for the more refined palate. Pinot Grigio is a versatile wine and pairs well with appetizers and small plate fare.