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7 Wines Under $25 to Spread Holiday Cheer

The holiday season is taxing — but the wines aren’t

Janice Williams By December 2, 2021
photo illustration of wine bottles with christmas trees behind
Photo illustration by Pix

The holidays can often feel like burning through the bank account. There are so many decorations to get, gifts to buy, and big family dinners full of extravagant food to prepare. 

Luckily, wine is one holiday necessity that doesn’t have to be too much of a burden on checkbooks. There are plenty of quality bottles on store shelves that are reasonably priced. Here are a few bottles that experts say will keep the holiday festivities rolling without breaking the bank.

7 wines under $25 to try this holiday season:

bottle of Grifalco Gricos Aglianico del Vulture DOC 2017

Grifalco Gricos Aglianico del Vulture DOC 2017 ($18)

Aglianico, a southern Italian grape, is loved for its rich complexity, structure, and value price point. It’s a grape variety that Hai Tran, a Raleigh-based sommelier and Sommation contributor, says “punches well above its weight class.” And Aglianico is a perfect replacement for lovers of Brunello or Barolo, who are on a budget. Grifalco’s Aglianico, produced in Vulture, within the Basilicata region of Italy, is a bottle that offers “amazing value that carries a beautiful sense of place and structure to run the gamut of potential holiday food offerings,” according to Tran. “It brings a lot to the glass from its dark and brooding fruit lined with savory, earthy tones, and subtle spice notes.”

bottle of Corte Figaretto Altarol Valpolicella 2020

Corte Figaretto Altarol Valpolicella 2020 ($20)

Serve holiday dinner guests a wine that is “full-bodied, smooth, and balanced,” like this one produced by Corte Figaretto in Valpantena, a winemaking area within the Valpolicella region north of Verona, Italy. A blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Oseleta, Corvinone, and Croatina, this wine is a favorite of Marquis Williams, a sommelier and founder of the Highly Recommended wine club in Brooklyn, and it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. “This Valpolicella is the wine everyone always asks me for,” Williams says. “It has a beautiful pop of sour red fruits with deep, dark, dense stewed fruits and a slight bell and white pepper finish.”

bottle of Bodega Garzon Reserva Uruguay Albariño 2021

Bodega Garzon Reserva Uruguay Albariño 2021 ($22)

Here’s a mineral-driven wine from Uruguay that’s a great alternative to the same-old-same Chardonnay and Bordeaux style Sauvignon Blanc that often ends up on holiday tables. Produced by Bodega Garzon in Uruguay’s Maldonado winemaking region, this Albariño is bursting with flavors of “peach, melon, citrus, and the mouthfeel is weighty mid palate,” says Tonya Pitts, wine director of San Francisco’s One Market Restaurant and owner of Tonya Pitts Wine Consulting. “It offers more bang for your buck,” says Pitts.

bottle of Stolpman Vineyards Para Maria Santa Barbara County Red Blend 2019

Stolpman Vineyards Para Maria Santa Barbara County Red Blend 2019 ($22)

Kick off the holiday festivities with wine as vibrant as this Syrah-based bottle produced by Stolpman Vineyards in the California winemaking region of Santa Barbara. Even the wine’s name is an ode to good times. The wine was created in honor of Stolpman vigneron Maria Solorzano and the night parties thrown in her hometown of El Tecolote, Mexico. “It is vibrant and chewy with notes of smoked meats and violets. It over-delivers and is extremely versatile for pairing with food,” says Vanessa Conlin MW, who is the head of wine at Wine Access in New York City.

bottle of Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc 2018

Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc 2018 ($22)

Situated in New York’s Finger Lakes wine region, the family-owned Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars grow and produce wine right near the beautiful and scenic Seneca Lake. The winery’s Cabernet Franc is just one of the many offerings that showcase how dynamic and complex wines made in the region can be. This particular bottle of Cabernet Franc displays juicy blackberry, raspberry, and black cherry flavors that mingle with earthy undertones to create a wine that is extremely versatile, says Jamie Rubin, a sommelier and owner of Kidstuff Hospitality in Philadelphia. “It works with all types of holiday dishes, and it’s an amazing, easy-drinking, and fresh Cabernet Franc,” says Rubin.

bottle of Coto de Imaz Reserva Rioja Tempranillo 2016

Coto de Imaz Reserva Rioja Tempranillo 2016 ($23)

“For anyone at the beginning of their wine journey, Rioja is the perfect place to explore,” says Karen Goodlad, CSW, an associate professor and lead beverage instructor for the department of hospitality management at New York City College of Technology in Brooklyn. Goodlad recommends a bottle of Tempranillo created by Spanish producer El Coto de Rioja, known for its “ripe berry and cherry notes on the nose which complements the velvety texture of the wine” as the best starting point. 

bottle of La Fête du Rosé Côtes de Provence 2019

La Fête du Rosé Côtes de Provence 2019 ($24)

Relaxation and rosé go hand-in-hand, and that is especially true during the busy and stressful holiday season. La Fête du Rosé’s bold and refreshing blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah can help with unwinding. It’s a wine Larissa Dubose, an Atlanta-based sommelier and founder of The Lotus & The Vines, uses to “share the gospel that rosé is not just a seasonal wine.” Dubose says that the rosé, produced in the South of France, has bright cherry and dried apricot flavors and crisp acidity, which makes it a good one for food pairing. “This is super versatile and food-friendly,” she adds.