Russ Winton Column: Wine gifts under $20

12/17/2012 12:07 PM

12/17/2012 12:09 PM

If you follow this column, you know I appreciate good wine deals.

The What’s on our Table selections (readily available, good value and under $15) are proof of that.

Wine does not have to cost as much as your monthly cable bill.

Here are some gift suggestions to help you through the sometimes hectic holiday season.

Bubblies A bottle of Champagne or sparkling wine is a terrific gift. I always buy a mixed six-pack (10 percent discount) and put a Christmas bow and name tag on each bottle. When friends drop by with a surprise gift, I’m ready with my Sharpie to fill in their names. Two sparkling wines I like are the Gruet Brut Rosé from New Mexico ($18) and the Roederer Estate Brut from Anderson Valley ($18). If you must have “true” Champagne, try the Kirkland Signature.

Cabernet sauvignon

Here are five cabernet sauvignons that won’t embarrass you or put you in the poor house: 2010 Mondavi Napa Valley, $19; 2010 Beringer Knights Valley, $19; 2009 Rodney Strong Sonoma County, $13; 2010 Louis Martini Sonoma County, $11; and the J. Lohr Paso Robles, $11. They’re all available at Costco.

Sweet and pink

Every family has a relative who latched on to the white zinfandel craze in the ’80s and hasn’t let go. This is not a bad thing. Remember, drink what you like. A perfect gift for this individual is a box of Beringer white zin at Costco for $19.99. Why pay the single bottle price of $7 when this six-pack figures out to $3.22 per bottle? Wow, that’s a good deal, and that relative will be hoping that you draw his or her their name every year.

Wine books

I know reading about wine is not as exciting as drinking it, but here are four good reads. For someone who knows nothing about wine, I suggest “Wine (101 Essential Tips),” by Tom Stevenson. Simple and direct, and only $5 from DK Adult, it’s the perfect stocking stuffer. My second choice is “California Wine for Dummies,” by Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan. It is easy and fun to read and covers all the regions of our state. It’s $16.99 from For Dummies. And for the serious oenophile, “The Billionaire’s Vinegar” (Three Rivers Press, $14.95) by Benjamin Wallace and “Wine Wars” (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, $16.95) by Mike Veseth are out in paperback.

What’s on our Table

I’m always in search of good daily wines. I call them “house wines.” It’s the wine you open for that extra glass. It’s the wine you open when the editor needs a glass of wine to cook with or when your neighbor conveniently drops by. The 2010 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon is that wine. It lists for $10.99. The local market (Raley’s) had it on sale for $6.99 plus 10 percent off for six or more. At this price, I bought all they had. The editor is happy and my neighborhood is very happy. A really good wine at a terrific price, it is definitely case-worthy. Have a great holiday season. Cheers!

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