Itís nice to splurge on wines for the holidays, but sometimes itís even nicer to know that you donít have to.

Itís nice to splurge on wines for the holidays, but sometimes itís even nicer to know that you donít have to.

The "In" Box ó Most boxed wines wonít win any beauty contests, but a step in the right direction is the Octavin Home Wine Barís Artisan Collections, packaged in 3-liter-boxes that sell for $22 to $24. Try the party-worthy Boho Vineyards California 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel and Big House White 2009 California White Wine.

Sparkle . . . for Less ó Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Brut California Sparkling Wine ($10) offers pear and lemony notes with a whisper of sweetness. Serve it with salty and spicy appetizers and the richer foods of the season.

For the Host ó If you want to bring something lovelyóbut youíre not sure what the host lovesóconsider Acrobat 2009 Oregon Pinot Gris ($12), a crowd-pleaser with character. This affordable wine brings loads of luscious orchard fruit jazzed with soft citrusy notes for a balanced, elegant sip.

óBy Wini Moranville, Relish wine columnist