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Holiday / Restaurants

The Best Red Wines for the Holidays

Great $20 and Under Picks

BY // 12.15.17

The invitations have been mailed, your menu is set, and the decorations are up. It’s holiday party time, and your final assignment is wine. I’ve already taken care of the white wine you’ll be serving, and it’s going to make your guests happy. Now, here are your reds.

Yes, I’m going to offer you two red wines, both great values, and both covering enough territory so that the palates of all of your partiers will be pleased.

First up, a blend from Wolf Blass, a winery founded in Australia’s Barossa Valley in 1966 by a German, Mr. Wolfgang Franz Otto Blass. (His wine career began when he ran away from school. His parents told him he could start a three-year winemaking apprenticeship, or go back to class, and he chose the former route.)

Wolfgang Franz Otto Blass toasts your holiday party.

It’s a 2016 vintage, and the Blass Reserve Release Red Blend will cost you all of $15 — and that’s the SRP… I’ve seen it for $12. It’s ideal for your party, which I am sure will feature charcuterie trays full of prosciutto and jamon and sausages of all sorts. The dominant grape here is Shiraz, and the oak is slight — most of the lots were fermented in stainless steel only. You get a medium-bodied wine, one with 13.5 percent alcohol and lush tannins — and don’t worry about your cheese plates, because this red will love it.

From Down Under, let’s travel to Italy, and to a wine with a storied name and provenance. Your other holiday party red is Vietti’s Dolcetto d’Alba Tre Vigne 2015. I love this wine. It’s easy to drink, it’s a Piedmontese staple, and it’s great to have on hand for any occasion, especially your parties.

This is 100 percent Dolcetto d’Alba, a wine renowned for its lively fruit character. It’s the everyday drinking wine for the locals in the area of its production — northwest Piedmont — and when you taste it, you’ll know why. Raspberry and blueberry and dark cherry, flavors that will bring a lot of pleasure, whether you’re drinking this by itself, or with pizza, pasta with a lot of vegetables and cheese, or your charcuterie. It retails for $20.

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There are your reds, two fine examples of wines at price points that will please your accountant. Serve them at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and make sure the music’s jumping.

Want More Wine and Spirits? Check out these stories:

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Underbelly Veteran Goes for Grenache
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Ms. Champagne Wants a Nebuchadnezzar
The Wine Artist Goes for Chardonnay
This American Loves Spain and Its Wines
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Blackberry Farm’s Somm Pours in Splendor
Mr. Pinot Noir: Donald Patz of Patz & Hall
A Cork Dork Wants to Spend More Time in Tuscany
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Oil Man Falls in Love, and the Rest is Good-Taste History
Ryan Cooper of Camerata is a Riesling Man
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Sommelier at One of Houston’s Top Wine Bars Loves Underdogs

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