Remember in your college days or shortly thereafter when you were invited to a wedding and were more interested in the amount of alcohol you could consume, plus was the music good enough so you could dance long into the night and morning with someone special you found with wine goggles on?

Now, you could be the host for a wedding, birthday, anniversary, family reunion, business or other party and worry about giving attendees too much fun at too high a cost in beverages consumed. Problem solved. We’ve sampled several hundred wines in the past six months and found several worth adding to the shopping list for less expensive crowd-pleasing wines. The sources were some of the flash sale online websites and big box retailers, so prices will vary where you live. A few fine choices:


  • Calif. Cabernet Sauvignon $8 Wild Horse ’13. Herbaceous, jam nose; mid-body; decent tannins; easy drinking, wedding reception, party wine.
  • $9 Calif. party wine ’13 Kendall Jackson Summation. Herbaceous, berry jam nose; soft, quaffable; light tannins; short easy sipping finish.
  • $10 party/pizza Merlot ’13 Columbia Crest H3. Ripe grape nose (14.5 alc.); cocoa; fat, soft tannins, one-dimensional; hot finish.
  • Well-made $12 Calif. Petite Sirah ’14 Spellbound. Smokey, earthy, cherry pie nose; mid-body; soft tannins; some style; long flavorful finish.
  • $12 Central Coast GSM ’14 Qupe Modern Red. Minty, Syrah, pomegranate nose; balanced; fruity; a little short. Pasta/appetizer wine.
  • Easy-sipping $12 Central Coast Merlot ’14 Liberty School. Berry, pepper, jam nose; interesting flavor; some style; soft fruity finish.
  • Stylish $12 Alexander Valley Cabernet ’13 Simi. Blackberry jam, oak nose; balanced; good fruit/acids/tannins; long semi-chewy finish.
  • $14 Clos du Bois Cabernet ’13 Sonoma Reserve, Alexander Valley. Smokey ripe grape (14.5 alc.) Cab nose; mid-body; semi-chewy fruity finish.
  • Easy drinking Calif $15 red blend ’13 Hess Treo (Petite Sirah, Syrah, Zin). Berry, plum nose; mid body; fruity; soft tannins; a bit short.
  • $16 Napa Merlot ’13 Clos du Val. Light cocoa, raspberry, wood nose; mid-body; decent tannins; some style; semi-chewy finish.


  • $8 Sonoma Chardonnay ’14 Chloe. Toasty, floral, tropical nose; mid-body; fat, easy-sipping party and picnic wine
  • $10 Sonoma party, wedding reception Chardonnay ’13 Clos du Bois $10. Mid straw-gold; toasty tropical nose; mid-body; soft acids.
  • Stylish $11 Sauvignon Blanc ’15 Dry Creek. Light SB nose; citrus, minerals; mid-body; nice acids; long fruity semi-lush finish.
  • Tasty $13 Martinborough NZ (not Marlborough) Sauvignon Blanc ’15 Tora Bay. Herbaceous, mineral, light citrus nose; mid0body; long semi-crisp finish.
  • Fruity $13 Carneros Chardonnay ’14 Carneros Creek. vanilla, toasty, stone fruit nose; fat; soft acids; long fruity finish; some style.
  • Fine $13 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ’14 Frei Bros. Stone fruit, green apple nose; mid-big body; light oak; long lush fruity finish.
  • Buttery $13 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ’13 Ch. St. Jean. Toasty, tropical nose; mid-body, semi-fat, viscous; buttery; long fruity finish.
  • Fine $14 Russian River Valley Chardonnay Irony, Small Lots. Toasty, tropical nose; mid-body; fruity; semi-crisp; some style for the price.
  • Consistent Sonoma Chardonnay ’14 Ferrari-Carano $15. Vanilla, stone fruit, tropical nose; mid-body; round; long semi-lush finish, hints of wood.