The holidays can be the most expensive time of the year, thanks to parties, feasts and presents. Putting wine into the mix makes this season that much more of an investment.
To help guide you through the myriad choices you’ll find at your favorite wine merchant, here are three lists based on price point. Whites, reds and sparkling wines — as well as a couple of dessert wines — are included in each category.
Most of these should be readily available at good wine shops and groceries with large selections. If you can’t find them on the shelf, either ask the store to special order them for you or contact the winery directly. With the exception of the British Columbia ice wine, wineries listed will be able to ship.
Less than $20: Corks for a crowd
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While the Pacific Northwest has gained a reputation in recent years for high quality, that doesn’t mean there aren’t values to be found. In fact, it isn’t difficult to fill a shopping cart with wines under $20 — even with an occasional Oregon pinot noir. While this list of 10 value wines focuses a bit on whites, we also include a delicious sparkler, a yummy pink wine and four approachable reds.
• Michelle NV extra dry, Columbia Valley, $14
• Barnard Griffin 2013 chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $14
• Milbrandt Vineyards 2013 Evergreen Vineyard Traditions riesling, Columbia Valley, $13
• Elk Cove Vineyards 2013 pinot blanc, Willamette Valley, $19
• Palencia Wine Co. 2013 albariño, Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, $18
• Airfield Estate 2013 Vineyard Salute Ruby rosé, Yakima Valley, $15.
• Primarius 2012 pinot noir, Oregon, $16
• 14 Hands Winery 2012 merlot, Columbia Valley, $12
• Bombing Range 2010 red wine, Horse Heaven Hills, $16
• Washington Hills 2012 cabernet sauvignon, Washington, $9
$20-$35: Where Washington wines shine
This price range is the sweet spot for Northwest wines. This list of seven is heavier on reds but also includes a top-end riesling, an amazing dessert wine and a sparkling cranberry wine from the Washington coast that is the perfect holiday wine.
• Poet’s Leap 2013 riesling, Columbia Valley, $20
• Westport Winery NV Rapture of the Deep sparkling cranberry, Washington, $26
• Maryhill Winery 2011 Sangiovese, Columbia Valley, $22
• Phelps Creek Vineyards 2012 pinot noir, Columbia Gorge, $34
• Thurston Wolfe Winery 2011 tempranillo, Yakima Valley, $30
• Mercer Estates 2011 merlot, Columbia Valley, $20
• Kiona Vineyards & Winery 2012 chenin blanc ice wine, Red Mountain, $25 (half-bottle)
$35 and up: Impressing the in-laws
For those looking to splurge a bit (or a lot), there is no shortage of high-end, high-priced Oregon pinot noir. I’ve chosen one of my favorites from an in-depth tasting of Willamette Valley pinots. The sparkling rosé from Argyle uses the obscure yet traditional pinot meunier grape. And if you want one of the best dessert wines on the planet, you’ll need to drive north to Vancouver to find it in a wine shop.
• Argyle Winery 2010 brut rosé, Dundee Hills, $50
• DeLille Cellars 2013 Chaleur Estate blanc, Columbia Valley, $37
• Penner-Ash Wine Cellars 2012 Bella Vida Vineyard pinot noir, Dundee Hills, $65
• Reininger Winery 2011 cabernet sauvignon, Walla Walla Valley, $43
• Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery 2013 riesling ice wine, Okanagan Valley, $50 (half-bottle)
Andy Perdue is The Seattle Times wine columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org