When it comes to classic holiday hooch, nothing embodies the spirit of the season more perfectly than port (Christmas) and Champagne (New Year's). Unfortunately, after weeks of endless gift shopping, many of us will think twice before splurging on such luxuries.
But there are ways to get around the steep price point without sacrificing quality. Here are two great alternatives to help you drink like Scrooge on a Bob Cratchit budget:
The Splurge: Vintage Port
The Save: Late-Bottled Vintage Port
Unlike standard vintage port, which take years to mature in bottle, late-bottled vintage port (labeled as LBV) comes from juice that is originally destined for vintage bottlings, but--due to lack of demand--ends up aging longer than normal in the barrel. Top examples (like this one from legendary estate Quinto do Infantado) offer much of the complexity of the real vintage stuff at a fraction of the cost.
The Splurge: "Zero dosage" Champagne
The Save: "Zero dosage" Chenin Blanc
This style of sparkling wine (which has none of the extra sugar that's added to other styles during the fermentation process) has become a niche of sought-after Champagne, attractive to those who believe that additional sweetness masks the wine's true flavors. But other regions have adopted the hands-off technique as well, with equally delicious results at better value: The Pinon Vouvray Brut Non-Dosé, a sparkling Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley, is a yeasty, mineral-driven, bitingly dry wine that holds its own against pricier bottles of Champagne.