Good wine that won't bust your budget

Red wine
A glass of red wine.
Jennifer Simonson/MPR News

Editor's note: Mel Guse co-owns the newly opened GYST Fermentation Bar in Minneapolis' Eat Street Neighborhood. She believes that wine drinkers will have a better holiday season if they approach their libation with a sense of adventure.

Guse shared the following advice for making wise wine selections:

Traditional holiday dinner

While the classics like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet are always delicious, the quality ones tend to be a little pricier. I suggest trying a dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley. These wines have good acidity to cut through all the rich food but will be full enough to not get lost.

Gamay from a Cru Beaujolais region is also a great choice for those who tend to like Pinot Noir. They tend to be light to medium in body, have juicy red fruits and good minerality.

For those who like a bigger, bolder wine, I suggest a Grenache blend. You can find Grenache blends from France, Spain, Italy and even California. Depending on the region, they tend to be fuller in body and richer in dark fruits and tannin.

You are going to get a little more bang for your buck with these wines. For example, good Cru Beaujolais starts at around $20. These wines are also made from producers who like to practice sustainable farming and refrain from using too much sulfur. I like to say they are made in a more natural style.

Holiday potluck

I recommend drinking white wines that drink like reds. Some producers make white wines like they do reds. Once they press the grapes they leave the juice in contact with the skins for a certain amount of time. This practice for white wines produces an end product that has more texture and complexity, which will ultimately hold up to a variety of different foods. This style of white wine can vary from producer to producer from all over the world, but many winemakers in the region of Friuli of Italy produce outstanding wines of this style.

If you're more of a red wine drinker, I recommend drinking reds of balance with a lower percent alcohol. While most red wine is anywhere from 11 percent to 15.5 percent alcohol, I find that reds that are 12 percent to 13 percent alcohol have much more balance. Not only do they pair well with a variety of foods but you can also drink more than one glass without feeling the effects.

Sometimes it can be really difficult to get wines that go well with a Christmas potluck, as there may be food ranging from cheese balls to Christmas cookies. Therefore, I suggest exploring the world of sherry. Sherry wines range from super-dry and salty to rich-sweet and nutty. They come in smaller bottles, 11 ounces, so if you bring two different types of sherry you are bound to find a good pairing.

Service tips

Place the wine in a decanter. It's festive.

Control the portions. If you serve your guests 3 ounces at a time, it allows you to expose them to a wider variety of wine. This approach also lets you show off your wine knowledge.