NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A bottle of wine is always appreciated as a holiday gift, whether for friends, family, or colleagues.
But with good -- and bad -- wines at nearly every price level, it can be hard to know which to give, and to whom.
In some contexts the conservative gift is the right call -- you might not want to give your conservative boss an unconventional wine like, say, the La Clarine Farms Jambalaia, a buoyant, enjoyable blend of red and white grapes from California -- but other occasions will call for a bottle with more personality. And who knows, maybe your boss is from Louisiana or you live there, and the name of the wine will recall the classic Cajun rice and seafood dish.
Click through below, to see a range of wines (and one hard-to-categorize spirit), all for under $30, each well-suited as a holiday gift. Happy gifting.
Decent Champagne starts at $40 a bottle, which can blow a budget. But Crémant, sparkling wine from France made in the same style, is a much better value. This excellent example comes from a Burgundy winemaker and is made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the same two grapes that predominate in Champagne.
Clotilde Davenne, Crémant du Bourgogne Extra Brut NV: $23.99
This is a serious Prosecco made from hand-harvested grapes in the traditional method of the region, which mas been largely abandoned with the rise of cheap, mass-produced Prosecco. Col fondo means "on the sediment" or "on the lees," which impart flavor and body to this wine just as they do to other sparkling wines, including Champagne.
Ca' dei Zago, Prosecco DOC Col Fondo 2013: $21.99
Txakolina is the classic Basque drink, light, slightly spritzy, perfect with cold shrimp, mussels and other forms of shellfish. To add to the fun, pour it as they do in San Sebastian tapas bars, extending the bottle about two feet from the glass.
Ametzoi, Txakolina 2013: $19.99
Piuze is one of the best young producers in Chablis, and this is a great introduction to the classic style of the region: crisp, clean and restrained, with some lemon and green apple on the palate.
Patrick Piuze, Chablis Terroir de Courgis 2013: $26.99
A solid choice when the occasion demands a classic California Chardonnay with some oak and richness on the palate. A comparison with the Piuze shows Chardonnay's unmatched range, which makes it one of the world's most popular grapes with winemakers and drinkers alike.
Terlato Chardonnay 2010: $24.99
Russian River Valley, California
Italian winemaker Arianna Occhipinti is well-known for her reds, but her SP 68 Bianco, named for the road that runs by her estate in southeast Sicily, is perfect for the Feast of the Seven Fishes that many Italian-American families celebrate on Christmas Eve. A blend of Albanello and Zibbibo, the Sicilian form of Muscat, it combines a gorgeous floral nose with the structure needed to stand up to robust fish preparations.
Arianna Occhipinti 2013 IGT Sicilia SP 68 Bianco 2013: $29.99
Cabernet Franc is a supporting character in Bordeaux, where Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the stars, but Cab Franc gets its chance to shine in the Loire, where it produces earthy wines whose excellent structure can allow them to age. Raffault's are a great value and available in several vintages.
Olga Raffault, Chinon Les Picasses 2007: $26.99
From one of the oldest, most respected producers in Rioja, in northern Spain, this wine sees extended aging in American oak and combines aromas of coffee bean, leather and dark fruit typical of Tempranillo with a refreshing acidity on the palate.
La Rioja Alta, Viña Alberdi, Selección Especial 2007: $19.99
Michael Dashe, owner of Dashe Cellars, was a winemaker at legendary California wine producer Ridge for a number of years and now makes his own wines. His Zinfandels have the variety's generosity of flavor with a complexity that recalls Ridge's wines. Californians can pay him a visit at his winery in Oakland; the rest of us will have to hunt down one of his whimsically labeled bottles.
Dashe Cellars Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2012: $19.99
Sonoma County, California
Americans associate Vermouth with cocktails, especially Martinis, but it's a wine flavored with various botanicals. This one from Italy is built on a base of Moscato grapes that give it some sweetness and is made using a secret recipe that imparts flavors of orange peel, licorice, vanilla and caramel. Delicious after -- or instead of -- dessert, or in cocktails.
Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino: $17.99
Palo Cortado is the rarest and most complex type of sherry, and often carries a price tag to match. This rendition from Lustau is an excellent introduction to the style whose flavors can range from orange peel and sea salt to mushroom and even urchin. Lustau's other sherries also offer excellent value; the Amontillado and Fino work well as aperitifs.
Lustau Palo Cortado Peninsula Sherry: $24.99
Pommeau -- the word derives from the French for apple -- is a mix of Calvados, or apple brandy, and freshly pressed apple juice. It derives its warmth from the former and its freshness from the latter. Drink at the start of the meal or with desserts that feature apple or pear.
Christian Drouin, Coeur de Lion Pommeau de Normandy: $23.99