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With the holidays upon us in full, jingle-belling force, no one wants to be the one to bring a mediocre bottle of Chianti to the big Italian dinner at her boyfriend family’s house. Instead of blindly choosing a bottle based on an alluring label at the local wine shop, we tapped Laura Maniec—owner of New York City wine shop Corkbuzz, and one of only 20 female Master Sommeliers in the world—to help you (and us). Here are wines under $30 to suit every winter party need.
You are classy and want to bring two bottles to a New Year’s party—without breaking the bank.
Maybe you can’t swing Cristal like a hip-hop mogul, but Maniec says you can swing the little sister to Cristal, Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV, which retails for a fraction of the price. Alternatively, she loves a rosé Crémant from the south of France, such as Val de Mer Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé.
You’re going to an Italian holiday supper.
Maniec’s favorite inexpensive Tuscan red that’s “elegant yet powerful enough” to pair with Italian power players like porchetta and bucatini all’amatriciana is the sleek Montevertine Pian del Ciampolo (2010).
You need to impress a gaggle of gals.
There’s something about pink bubbles that tends to make women—no matter how much we enjoyed “The Feminine Mystique”—swoon. With its combo of “low alcohol, sparkling light pink, slightly off dry and beautiful,” a $20 bottle of Renardat-Fache Bugey Cerdon fits the bill for Maniec.
Granny is making that huge, boring roast again.
Oh, Granny. Maniec suggests a Cotes du Rhone, such as Château des Tours (2010), which has “sunkissed berries, savory herbs,” and is “rich but elegant”—ideal for bringing out any subtleties in the dinner.
You’re headed to a vegetarian potluck and need an easy-drinking white.
Boasting “lots of grassy, herbaceous flavors perfect for asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cheese, artichokes, and other hard-to-pair vegetables,” Doisy Daene Bordeaux Sec (2010) is Maniec’s über-drinkable go-to. Made from 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc grapes, it’s a steal at $19.
You’re the only unmarried cousin at a family gathering and everyone wants to talk about how it’s going.
Wine isn’t stiff enough for this scenario, so Maniec cuts to the chase: “Give them a Negroni. That will take their attention away from you.” Her recipe: “Equal parts No3 London Dry Gin, Carpano Antico, and Campari served with one large ice cube and a dash of orange bitters.”
We’ll drink to that strategy.