Tasty wines without the cost

November 23, 2011 4:33:34 PM PST
Just in time for the holidays, you may be serving wine or giving a nice bottle as a gift. You can still do both, even on a budget.

Consumer Reports tested dozens of wines and we have the taste test results and the best bargains.

Tastings at wineries allow you to try the wine before you buy it. That's not usually the case at the store, where the choices can be overwhelming. But Consumer Reports has some tasteful advice.

Wine experts tested more than 100 bottles of red and white wine. The results are worth toasting.

"We found more than 20 wines we designated best buys. They're ideal for a holiday meal or a party. And you may even find some of them at Costco, Target or 7-Eleven!" said Paul Reynolds with Consumer Reports.

In blind tastings, wine experts evaluated six types of wine, which included two that are popular for the holidays - chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.

"We found several good values in our tests of cabernet sauvignon, which pairs well with hearty foods including red meats," Reynolds said.

Among those that rated very good are the 2008 Columbia Crest Grand Estates for $10 and the $8 bottle of Cherrywood Cellars from 7-Eleven!

"It has loads of fruit flavor, and it feels nice on your tongue," Erin Gudeux with Consumer Reports said.

Chardonnays can be served before your meal or paired with foods like fish. This 2009 Bogle chardonnay for $10 also rated very good. And for even less, consider Costco's Kirkland Signature 2009 Sonoma County chardonnay for just $8!

"It has decent fruit and a bit of wood," Gudeux said.

But don't despair when shopping for these wines if you can't find the exact year.

"We've found that wines in this price range are fairly consistent from year to year. So you'll probably be fine choosing the same wine from a recent year," Reynolds said.

Zinfandel is another red wine that's popular at Thanksgiving because it pairs well with a traditional turkey dinner.

Consumer Reports recommends the 2009 Dancing Bull as a best buy for $10.

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