Dec. 19, 2012 at 8:19 AM ET
By Kara Reinhardt, Cheapism.com
From awkward office parties to convivial Christmas dinners, wine permeates the holiday season. Guests arrive bearing gift bags specifically sized to hold wine bottles and hosts agonize over which varietals to serve. Some oenophiles might suggest that all cheap bottles resemble the contents of a spittoon, but if holiday shopping has left you with a limited budget, there’s no need to splurge on expensive wine. Cheapism has updated its wine buying guides with top picks under $10, and you won’t find a Franzia or “Two-Buck Chuck” in the bunch.
First, the reds:
Moving on to the whites:
A cheap, mass-produced wine may not have the unique character and quality of a meticulously crafted vintage with a high-end pedigree. However, many of the wines above are notable for their consistency -- an important consideration when you’re stocking up for a party, rather than taking a chance on a single bottle.
If you feel uncomfortable serving inexpensive wine, consider that blind taste tests suggest most people have trouble telling when they’re drinking a cheap bottle. According to one study, wine drinkers without professional training actually rate inexpensive bottles slightly higher on average than pricey ones. Expectation appears to play a key role in our enjoyment of wine: Tasters are primed to admire a wine when told it’s expensive and turn up their noses when it’s labeled cheap. Try serving an affordable red from a decanter or a chilled white with a cloth napkin wrapped around the label. Odds are no one will be the wiser.
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