Party wines for under $20

Scott Greenberg, special to

The holiday party season is in full swing and chance are, you’re either hosting a holiday party or have been invited to one.

What wine can you serve that will be delicious but not add to the national (or at least household) debt?

Here is a selection of wonderfully tasteful wines under $20 that you can serve your guests or take as a hostess gift. Now that’s a real holiday treat.

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and the 2009 Alpha Sauvignon Blanc from Florina, Greece is first on my white wine list, this holiday season. The nose is full of honeydew melons, lemons and limes and the mouth is quenched by crisp, clean flavors of papaya, ripe peach, melon and grapefruit. Perfect with shrimp cocktail and only $19.

If you really want to make a splash at your next holiday party, try serving a 2009 Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon from California. On the nose, red cherry, cocoa, and a hint of toasty oak dominate the bouquet. The balanced mouthfeel is full of bright strawberry, red cherry and ripe blueberry flavors. There is just a touch of cocoa on the soft, smooth, easy-drinking finish. There is a lot going on in this wine for $15.

If you’re looking to stump your guests with a delicious red wine, how about serving the 2010 Gran Reudo Edicion Tempranillo from Navarra, Spain. This wine jumps up in your mouth and shouts, “Ole” from start to finish. Bright red cherry, raspberry and plum flavors sit on a medium-bodied frame with great balance and structure. Abundant acidity keeps the finish fresh and lively and ready for another sip. Just $10!

Whoever said that Pinot Noir has to be expensive to be good never tried the 2009 Pennywise Pinot Noir from “The Other Guys” – AKA members of the famous Sebastiani family in Napa Valley. The ruby-tinged wine boasts aromas of cherries, strawberries and earthy floral notes. Flavors of strawberry, watermelon, red plum and blueberries swirl around in the mouth and the lingering hint of cocoa on the finish is simply delicious. For $12, I vote for The Other Guys.

If you really want to impress your guests, how about serving a Grand Vin de Bordeaux? Namely, the 2008 Chateau Clos du Moulin from the Medoc appellation of Bordeaux, France. The bouquet is chalked full of dried herbs, cedar and dark currant aromas. It has good weight in the mouth that supports flavors of black currant and cherry fruit intermixed with spice box and plums. The medium-bodied finish is supple-textured, with remarkable concentration that sports a touch of chocolate. An unbelievable buy at $13.

If you need to trot out the Big, Bad Red Wine, then the 2009 Yard Dog from South Eastern Australia will have your guests barking for more. This masculine red is a blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and is howling good. It shows off aromas of ripe black plum, dark raspberries and red currants. The full-bodied frame supports oodles of black and red berry fruit on the front of the tongue and ends with a good , long dried cherry finish thanks to the rustic tannins and medium acidity. Off the leash for only $14.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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