NEW YORK (CNNfn) - If you're shopping for holiday wines, you've got a treat in store. Recent vintages have been exceptional and rising competition from new wineries has kept prices down.
"The technology of wine making has improved so much, so dramatically in the last 10 years," Jeff Zacharia of Zachy's, a wine retailer in Scarsdale, N.Y., says. "They can simply make a better quality wine not as expensively as they used to."
It's the season for entertaining, and for many of us that means wine shopping. Whether you can distinguish an angular overtone from an oaky note, most grape varietals team up well with turkey, not to mention many of the other flavors at an autumn banquet table.
"A merlot is a very fashionable red wine these days. Fortan de France comes from the home of merlot in France and is only $7," says Tom Matthews, senior editor at Wine Spectator. "The Hogue fume has wonderful herbal accents that go with the traditional bread stuffing. It's only $9 [from] one of Washington's best wineries."
Climatic trends have particularly blessed grapes from both North America and Europe in recent years. Vintages from 1994, 1995 and 1996 are especially good, and generally speaking prices are quite reasonable.
"Everybody loves chardonnay," Matthews continues. We find that Santa Barbara makes great ones. Round and full and oaky, and $10 is a good price."
"Zinfandel is really America's grape. This is a rich, brawny red that will go good with everything on the table. A good price is around $14 for a 1994, a good vintage."
As for champagne, Matthews suggests an American sparkling wine like Piper Sonoma, a "good buy" at $14.
Whenever buying wine, make sure to ask your local wine experts which bottles might offer particular value.
"We have an unbelievable value wine in the Domaine Val Saint Jean, which comes from France," notes Zacharia. "The merlot sells for $3.99. We haven't seen good valued wine like this in that price range in ten years."