THE DECLINING VALUE of the dollar in relation to other currencies, combined with some short harvests, has driven up the cost of premium foreign wine, but there are still bargains among less expensive imports. Even after the holiday sales, many foreign table wines will remain reasonably priced, a situation that in some cases will last until spring. Most were bought by wholesalers and retailers before the dollar dipped. Some are aggressively marketed to introduce little known labels to the American wine drinker. Others are old standbys that have been bargains for years.
Champagne is a good place to start, given the season and the fact that some sales will last through New Year's. Many new champagnes on the market have moderated prices overall. Try Louis Roederer brut (dry), classic champagne with a tiny bead and lots of complexity for about $13 on sale. For about $12 there's Laurent-Perrier brut, and for the same price a fine cr,emant, Bruno Paillard's blanc-de-blanc -- 100 percent chardonnay that is less effervescent than regular champagne and better with food. A new entry in the same price range that deserves attention is Morize Pere & Fils Les Riceys brut reserve.
German wines have been bargains for some time and remain so. The '83 kabinetts from a great vintage are drinking well. Try the Carl Graff Piesporter Michelsberg (Mosel) for about $4.50 or another Mosel, the '83 Dr. Fischer Herrenberger, for $6. For a slightly sweeter riesling there's Dr. Burklin-Wolf's '82 Ruppertsburger spatlese for the same price.
Among Italian wines there are still many bargains. They include an '83 Bianco di Pitigliano, white and dry, from the Cantina cooperative for about $2.60; an '83 Dolcetto d'Alba from Vietti, smooth and red for under $5, and an '82 Cispiano chianti for only $4.
Lindemans, the Australian winery, has two interesting wines on the market at good prices: the '82 Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon (not to be confused with wines of the '82 Bordeaux harvest), still a big, concentrated wine for only $8; and the '84 sauvignon blanc Bin 95, a substantial fum,e for only $6.
May we always have bargains from the Torres firm of Spain, still much in evidence. The '81 Sangre de Toro, a full- bodied red, remains one of the best buys anywhere at $3, an everyday wine I wish California could match for the price. And the Gran Coronas Reserva '79 is available for about $7.
Classed bordeauxs are out of sight, but wines from the lesser known regions of Bordeaux are both good and inexpensive. From the C.otes de Blaye come the Ch.ateau La Tonnelle '83 for about $4 and the '82 Ch.ateau Les Petits Arnauds for about $5. From the C.otes de Bourg you can get a Ch.ateau Cana '82 for only $4.
Of course beaujolais nouveau has arrived, from a good crop in '85. As usual Georges Duboeuf offers as much fruit for the money as anyone -- and a lovely label to match -- for $6.50. Another interesting '85 nouveau-style comes from Joseph Phelps Vineyards of Napa. Called Nuovo, it is a lightly vinified zinfandel that is fresh, spicy and drinkable now. The American nouveau costs 50 cents more than the French one; it should be the other way around.