Wine-Buying Tips for the Holidays

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Wines have become a significant part of every holiday celebration, and last year in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, wine sales soared 67%. We serve bottles at dinner parties and give them away as gifts. But you don't have to break the bank to get great flavor. As the holidays are upon us, we offer up some wine-buying tips from the experts -- those who make, buy and sell wines.

Greg Majors, wine director at Craft in Manhattan, says whether you're looking for the perfect pours for your holiday parties or wine gifts, you should always begin by determining how much you are willing to spend.

For intimate dinners of up to five people, Majors says he would be willing to spend up to $40 per bottle. For larger parties, he looks for good-value wines that cost less than $25.

How does he find good-value wines? These days, when almost everything -- including the price of wines and wine reviews -- is searchable online, Majors says the best place to start is still the local wine store.

"If you are a wine novice and you don't know what to serve your guests, choose from the staff picks section of your wine shop," Majors says. "Those tend to be more value-oriented."

What to Bring to a Holiday Party

Giving a bottle of wine as a holiday gift can be tricky. Once you've figured out how much you're willing to spend, the next question becomes: What is the appropriate wine to give?

Roberto Paris, wine director at Il Buco in Manhattan, says that if you're invited to a holiday dinner, a good bottle of sparkling rosé is the safest bet.

As an alternative to champagne, Paris recommends Ferrari Rose NV ($37) and the Cavalleri Rose ($58).

"Some people prefer reds, others whites. But a good bubbly will satisfy anyone," Paris says. "Sparkling wines are also very versatile. You can drink them before, during and after dinner."