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How to Find Great Value Wines for Your Holiday Party

  1. At Home with J. Lohr
  2. How to Find Great Wines for Your Holiday Party

Finding the perfect wine for your holiday party doesn't have to break the bank. In this short guide, we'll break down some key factors to consider when selecting value wines that will impress your guests without emptying your wallet. We'll cover everything you need to know, from understanding the back label to comparing different AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) and checking multiple rating sources.

Wine Back Label

Back Label Information

When you're browsing the wine aisle, don't forget to turn the bottle around and examine the back label. Here's what to look for:

  • Example 1: Imagine you're browsing the wine section, and you come across a bottle of Chardonnay. On the back label, it says, "Produced and Bottled by XYZ Winery." This tells you that XYZ Winery is responsible for every step of the winemaking process, from growing the grapes to making the wine to bottling the final product. These wines often reflect a higher commitment to quality and may offer better value compared to wines where these processes are split among different entities.
  • Example 2: You find a Cabernet Sauvignon with a back label that reads, "Produced by ABC Winery, Bottled by DEF Bottling Co." In this case, the winemaking process involves two separate entities. While this doesn't necessarily mean the wine is of lower quality, it may indicate less control over the entire winemaking process. Wines like these can still be enjoyable but might not always represent the best value compared to wines with full vertical integration.
  • Example 3: Another option you might encounter is a Merlot with the back label stating, "Cellared and Bottled by GHI Winery." This suggests that GHI Winery might have purchased the grapes or the partially made wine from another source and then bottled it. Again, while this doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality, it could indicate mean less direct control over the grape selection and winemaking process.
Wine Label Examples

AVAs (American Viticultural Areas):

California is known for its diverse wine regions, and understanding AVAs can help you find the right wine for your party:

  • California-Labeled Wines: These wines are usually blends from various regions within the state. They offer a broad representation of California winemaking.
  • Paso Robles AVA-Labeled Wines: Wines labeled as Paso Robles are more specific and often showcase the unique characteristics of this region, mainly known for its bold red wines. They can be a great value for the quality.
  • Sub AVA-Designated Wines: Within the larger Paso Robles AVA, there are smaller, more specific sub-region within Paso Robles that may appear on the label, such as Creston District or El Pomar District. While they may not be as well-known, they can provide hidden gems with excellent value.
Wine Ratings Example

Check Multiple Rating Sources

If you’re looking for outside, second opinions on your wine choices, you can consult multiple sources for wine ratings:

  • Publications: Look for wine reviews in reputable publications like Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine & Spirits, and Tasting Panel. These experts taste and rate wines daily, providing valuable insights into quality in their printed periodicals and on their websites.
  • Public Rating Systems: Vivino is a fantastic resource for everyday wine drinkers. It crowdsources ratings and reviews from wine enthusiasts like you, giving you a real-world perspective on how other consumers are enjoying the wine.
  • Combine Ratings: If both publications and public rating systems speak highly of a wine, that's a promising sign. It suggests that both experts and consumers appreciate the wine, making it a great choice for your holiday party.

Selecting the best wines for your holiday party doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. By checking the back label for produced and bottled information, understanding AVAs as the wine’s sense of place, and consulting multiple rating sources, you can confidently choose wines that will impress your guests without breaking the bank.

Here’s a few of our favorite holiday pours:

Or get all three with our Best Selling Holiday Pack - Jerry’s Holiday Classics.

Cheers to a festive and flavorful holiday season!

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