Beers, wines that won't break your gift budget

The Baltimore Sun

During the holidays, many of us like to give and get good things to drink. This December, the economic climate is so harsh that we are searching for beverages that deliver cheer on the cheap.

I gave myself the assignment of finding wines and beers that I not only would like to receive as a gift, but also cost less than $25 and in most cases less than $20. On the wine front, I found a couple of winning sparkling wines, a classy French white and a fruity yet balanced red from Argentina.

On the beer front, I discovered that good things come in large packages - 12-packs. Variety packs are popular this time of year, said Joe Falcone, beer manager at Wells Liquors in North Baltimore. Some brewers put hard-to-find styles - Old Fezziwig Ale for Samuel Adams, Irish Red for Saranac - in these packages at the holidays. All 12-packs offer a wide selection of beers and are, Falcone said, "an easy gift for Dad or a son or the guy next door who helped you put up the Christmas lights."

Here is my take on downmarket, down-the-hatch gifts. I included the names and phone numbers of Maryland distributors who can direct you to a store in your area that sells the product. In parentheses, I put the name of the store where I found it.


Tissot Cremant Rose du Jura, $23

Potomac Selections, 301-583-8844

(Found at Chesapeake Wine Co. )

This wine is French, gorgeous and tart. This sparkling rose, almost as red as Santa's coat, lifts spirits with enticing raspberry aromas and crisp fruit flavor. It is a blend of 60 percent pinot noir and 40 percent Poulsard grapes.

Bellenda Prosecco 2007, $21

Potomac Selections, 301-583-8844

(Found at Chesapeake Wine Co.)

Italy's answer to champagne, this sophisticated sparkler is dry (there is a slightly sweeter brut version) and would be delightful to sip on Christmas morning.


Domaine Belles Pierres Les Clauzes de Jo Coteaux du Languedoc 2006, $17.99

Oslo Enterprise, 301-326-2056

(Found at Wine Underground)

This classy French blend of 60 percent roussanne, 20 percent grenache blanc and 20 percent viognier is smooth, with complex flavors usually found in more expensive whites.


Aguaribay Malbec 2006, $9.99

Monsieur Touton Selections, 800-220-1223

(Found at the Wine Source)

Holiday bargain hunters would do well to prowl the Argentine aisle of wine shops. This Malbec, which hails from a house connected to Baron Edmond de Rothschild, delivers smooth, rich fruit and good acidity for about 10 bucks.


Flying Dog Sampler Pack, 12 bottles for $16.99

Bond Distributing Co., 410-945-5600

(Found at Wells Liquors)

A package that delivers a variety of beers - five different kinds - for a little less than a buck and a half a bottle. Much to the delight of local beer drinkers, this award-winning brewery recently moved from Colorado to Frederick.

Hook & Ladder Variety Pack, 12 bottles for $14.99

Chesapeake Beverage Group, 410-429-1601

(Found at Wells Liquors)

This package of holiday cheer and beer comes from a Silver Spring operation that won a gold medal for its Gold Ale at the Great American Beer Festival and donates part of its proceeds to hospital burn units.

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