Great wines to please palates, wallets

LOS ANGELES Eyewitness News teamed up with Consumer Reports to taste-test more than 400 bottles of wine and for a list of choices that don't cost a lot and taste good enough that you won't be embarrassed to bring them to holiday dinners.

In your frenzied packing to visit family and friends for the holidays, there's one item you really shouldn't forget to bring, says etiquette expert Melissa Leonard.

"It is a faux pas to arrive at someone's home empty-handed when you've been invited for the holidays," said Leonard. "Bring a bottle of wine to complement the meal."

But which wine should you choose, and what price do you have to pay for a good one?

"Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the biggest-selling red wines," said Paul Reynolds, an editor at Consumer Reports. "And it pairs well with rich foods like red meats that you may eat a lot at the holidays."

Consumer Reports tested 24 Cabernet Sauvignons hailing from France, Chile, Australia, California and Washington state. Testers poured close to 400 glasses for tasting. And experts did blind taste tests so they had no idea which wine they were drinking.

"We found bottles costing $11 or less that tasted just as good as those costing twice as much," said Reynolds.

Lindemans Bin 45 from Australia is rated very good, and costs just $7.

"It has intense, ripe black-fruit flavors, along with sweet wood notes," said Reynolds.

And a magnum bottle of Frontera from Chile, at 1.5 liters, is a real deal for $8.

"It has a nice array of fruit, spice, and woody flavors," said Reynolds.

And as far as being embarrassed about bringing a less-expensive bottle of wine, don't worry.

"It doesn't matter if a bottle of wine is inexpensive as long as it tastes good," said Leonasrd.

If you're looking for a bottle of white wine, Consumer Reports recommends the Mud House Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough from New Zealand. It costs a bit more at $14, but it was the highest-scoring wine in this category and rated excellent.

Consumer Reports Holiday Wine Bargains
If you want more information on the specifics of each wine, or to find even more wines than the ones listed, pick up the December issue of Consumer Reports or go to However, you will need a subscription to the Web site in order to view the story.

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Rosemount Diamond Label 2006, $10
  • Columbia Crest Grand Estates Columbia Valley 2006, $11
  • Casillero del Diablo Reserva 2007, $9
  • Yellow Tail 2008, $10
  • Lindemans Bin 45 2008, $7
  • 365 Everyday Value Trackers Crossing 2008, $7
  • Gnarly Head 2006, $10
  • Frontera 2008, $4
Sauvignon Blanc
  • Santa Rita 120 2008, $8
  • Coopers Creek Marlborough 2008, $12
  • Beringer Founders' Estate 2007, $11
  • Veramonte Reserva Casablanca Valley 2008, $10
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley 2007, $10
  • Cellar No. 8 2006, $10
  • Bogle Old Vine 2007, $11
  • Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve 2006, $14
  • Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull 2006, $12
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