Instead of: Krug Brut Champagne Collection 1985 ($1,350)
Try: Gruet Brut ($13)
Gruet is produced by a French family that used to bottle Champagne and still uses the same labor-intensive process. But today’s Gruet is made in New Mexico, which makes this rich, solid sparkling wine an amazing bargain.
Instead of: Terlano Chardonnay 1995 ($225)
Try: Lamoreaux Landing Chardonnay 2006 ($12.99)
Lamoreaux Landing is made upstate near the Finger Lakes, and the cooler climate makes for a fresher, crisper, more elegant Chardonnay than what you’d typically get from California.
Instead of: Braida Barbera d’Asti Bricco dell’Uccellone 2004 ($125)
Try: Daniel Bouland Morgon Vielles Vignes, 2007 ($19.99)
This Morgon may not be as full-bodied as the Braida, but it is versatile, elegant, and its Gamay grape is similar to Barbera. It is a Beaujolais, which many people mistake as uniformly mediocre. This one’s not.
Annual Savings: $2,205(Averaged from the three recommended bottles, four celebrations a year.)