Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut and Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noirs $12 (both) (Washington, USA)
Try these two affordable sparklers for toasting anything. The brut is dry with a touch of apple aroma and toast. The blanc de noirs (white from red) will be slightly pink with a touch of melon. Don't be afraid of pink in a sparkler. It won't be sweet at all. Champagne is very appetizer friendly. Just stay away from anything heavy.
Angeline Pinot Noir 2006 $14 (California, USA)
Pinot noir can be one of those grapes that at a low cost tends to be drab since the tannins are light to nonexistent. But this light-weight wine is filled with raspberry and a touch of smoke. It's a delightful wine for the price. Think light but rich (lamb and salmon) for food pairing.
Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2006 $11 (California)
Zinfandel (preferably red) can be a great value. It's filled with deep spice and cherry flavor with the weight of tannins that soften quicker than those in a cab. It also stands up to the spices that pepper your table.
DaVinci Chianti — $16
This Chianti delivers on round mouth-filling flavor and truly emulates the elegance of the grape in an affordable bottle to share with friends; as the Italians will traditionally have it!
Terranoble Cabernet Reserva 2004 $9 (Chile)
The depth of this Chilean red spills over the palate. It's great with beef and heavier cheeses.