It’s nice to splurge on wines for the holidays, but sometimes it’s even nicer to know that you don’t have to.
The “In” Box — Most boxed wines won’t win any beauty contests, but a step in the right direction is the Octavin Home Wine Bar’s Artisan Collections, packaged in 3-liter-boxes that sell for $22 to $24. Try the party-worthy Boho Vineyards California 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel and Big House White 2009 California White Wine.
Sparkle . . . for Less — Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Brut California Sparkling Wine ($10) offers pear and lemony notes with a whisper of sweetness. Serve it with salty and spicy appetizers and the richer foods of the season.
For the Host — If you want to bring something lovely—but you’re not sure what the host loves—consider Acrobat 2009 Oregon Pinot Gris ($12), a crowd-pleaser with character. This affordable wine brings loads of luscious orchard fruit jazzed with soft citrusy notes for a balanced, elegant sip.
—By Wini Moranville, Relish wine columnist