Whether you're hosting, toasting or gift-giving, well-priced wines can fit into the budget. Here are a dozen very good choices at equally good prices.
The 2008 Souverain Alexander Valley Chardonnay ($17) is a creamy, easygoing white, hinting of citrus, peach and pear. There's depth and fine fruit in the ripe 2007 Davis Bynum Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($25). Alternatives to chardonnay: the spirited, satisfying 2008 Sokol Blosser Pinot Gris Dundee Hills ($20), which suggests apricot and some spice; mellow 2008 Graham Beck Gamekeeper's Reserve Chenin Blanc ($16), a mellow, tropical-fruit driven wine from South Africa; and the refreshing, food-friendly 2008 Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($20), from an excellent producer known for reds.
To add some fizz to the festivities, try the nonvintage J Cuvée 20 Brut ($20), a yeasty, toasty sparkler with citrus and apple notes; the crisp, appley nonvintage Trapiche Extra Brut Sparkling ($13) from Argentina; and the dependable Italian bubbly, Mionetto Prosecco Valdobbiadene ($20).
For a sweet turn, consider the youthful, delightful 2006 Château de Cosse Sauternes ($25, 375-ml), the second label of Château Rieussec; and Les Petits Grains Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois ($14, 375-ml), a delectable, fortified, sweet muscat blanc.
And go red with the fruity, potent 2006 Glen Carlou Syrah ($22) from South Africa; and the husky, juicy, polished 2006 Shoofly Aussie Salute ($14), mostly shiraz with lots of black fruit and from South Australia.