Big holiday meals tend to involve multiple side dishes, which puts a lot of competing flavors on the table. Well-balanced wines that aren’t too extreme (not wildly sweet, not wildly tannic, etc.) are the most versatile when it comes to pairing. Good choices include Pinot Noir, American Rhône-style blends, Austrian Grüner Veltliner and dry Rieslings from Germany.
2007 Cono Sur Pinot Noir ($10)
A noteworthy Pinot Noir for $10 or less is a rarity, but Chilean winery Cono Sur has certainly produced one here. Light-bodied and refreshing, its berry fruit is complemented by a faint tobacco-leaf note.
More Great Wine Values
2007 Teruzzi & Puthod Rondolino Vernaccia di San Gimignano ($13)
Vernaccia’s food-friendliness has a lengthy history—Dante even mentioned it in his Divine Comedy as an excellent companion to eels. This bottling from Tuscan producer Teruzzi & Puthod is a fine example, with crisp melony fruit and a delicately earthy finish.
2007 La Posta Cocina Blend ($15)
Grapes from three high-altitude Argentine vineyards go into this fragrant, approachable blend of Malbec, Bonarda and Syrah. Full of sweet berry fruit with a light herbal edge, this red is a great match for anything from roast chicken to venison stew.
2006 Tuella Douro Vinho Branco ($17)
Portugal’s Douro Valley is primarily known for its reds, but Douro whites can be very inviting as well. This easygoing, medium-bodied blend of Malvasia Fina, Códega and Rabigato has silky melon and honeysuckle notes.
2007 Von Buhl Pfalz Riesling Medium-Dry ($17)
To most Americans, this halbtrocken (“half-dry”) German Riesling will taste intensely dry. Its crisp citrus-zest flavors and stony mineral notes make it a great partner for a wide range of foods.
2007 Kim Crawford Marlborough Pinot Noir ($17)
New Zealand producer Kim Crawford makes a range of affordable wines, among them this rosemary-and-cherry scented Pinot Noir, arguably the food-friendliest red grape around. The wine is primarily aged in steel tanks to keep its fruit character pure and direct.