7 White Wines From Around the World for Less Than $20
Often I taste wine around a theme — a particular class, variety, or region — but it is fun at times to sample at random, trying different styles, different countries, and different flavors. Here are seven interesting, nicely priced wines from half a dozen countries.
2012 Ritual Casablanca Valley sauvignon blanc ($18). From a cool valley west of Santiago, this wine has rounded flavors of apples and nuts with a hint of lime and a touch of spritz. Not as herbal as the sauvignons of Marlborough, it is creamy and smooth and just a touch gamey.
2012 Laroche chardonnay de la Chevalière ($13). A vin de pays d’Oc from the south of France, it has very pleasant green apple flavors, with some creaminess and a finishing spritz. It’s just a tad sweet.
2012 Stinson Monticello chardonnay ($19). From the hotbed of Eastern winemaking around Charlottesville, Va., this delicious wine shows the more floral side of chard with flavors of peach and apricot skins and just a kiss of oak — dry and very fresh.
2012 Viña Gormaz Rueda verdejo viura ($13). From the middle of Spain, the wine has juicy green fruits — grapes and kiwi — but is not overly tart. It is a little chalky, is fairly fresh, and has a little sweetness in the finish.
2011 Francois Lurton Rueda verdejo ($10). Light, pleasant white with tart green apples flavors, it has a touch of mint and perhaps needs better balance with its acidity.
2013 The Beach House Western Cape sauvignon blanc ($10). From South Africa and just in time for the beach season — down there (where summer is about to begin). It’s a lightly sweet, full, rounded sauvignon with more nectary notes than kiwi flavors.
NV Bolla Pavia Moscato ($8). A real charmer from northwest Italy, it has well-balanced fruitiness with lots of peaches and tropical fruit. It is so surprising light and elegant that I almost would serve it in a champagne flute!
The Best Wines at Aldi Under $15, According to Sommeliers
From the well-curated selection to the bargain-priced plants to their huge supply of healthy-ish products, we actually look forward to our shopping trips at Aldi. Admittedly, there are five things we recommend never buying at Aldi, but wine certainly isn&apost one of them. In fact, there are some really delicious and affordable wines at Aldi.
Aldi cuts out the middle person, working directly with winemakers who own their acres outright—keeping costs low even on surprisingly high-quality wines. An Aldi representative revealed to us that 9 out of 10 bottles they have on their shelves are less than $10.
That affordable shelf is right where you&aposll find one of Jon McDaniel&aposs favorite white wines. McDaniel is a sommelier and the founder of Second City Soil in Chicago, and was named one of Food & Wine&aposs 2018 Sommeliers of the Year.
The 2020 Sunshine Bay sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, is available now for just $7.99*.
"I couldn&apost tell you the last time I had a wine under $8 that I enjoyed, but that all changed with this sauvignon blanc," McDaniel admits. "This is probably the best wine that Aldi has in the store! New Zealand is one of my favorite places in the world to visit, and Marlborough always produces delicious wines of great value. This is a very bright, crisp wine that&aposs like drinking adult lemonade with a dry finish. It&aposs so tasty and dangerously drinkable, you may need to pick up a few bottles."
While you&aposre stocking up on a bottle (or a case) of that easy-pairing white wine, grab these Aldi fan favorites, too.
*Note: Prices may vary based on your local market.
22 Great-Tasting White Wines for $20 or Less
If you think cheap white wine is only for grandma's spritzer, think again. As a wine and spirit educator and judge, I've encountered hundreds of wines working with the Ultimate Beverage Challenge and selling and buying for restaurants and stores — and there are white wines costing no more than $20 to satisfy almost anyone's palate. At Cheapism, we've spoken with experts and wine vendors, read reviews, and held tastings to round up the best white wines that achieve a certain level of quality at a low price. Often the trick is to look beyond the chardonnays and pinot grigios (though they’re here, too) to less common varieties of grapes, such as melon de bourgogne or viura. And if your local wine shop lacks, check larger retailers such as Total Wine or BevMo. Looking for some suggestions for reds as well? Check out 50 Great-Tasting Red Wines Under $20.
Prices and availability are subject to change, and shipping is not available in all states.
20 Under $20: Wines That Feed the Soul
These 20 bottles — found online from 11 different countries, including some unexpected regions — offer values and pleasures in a summer unlike any other.
Between the physical, emotional and economic miseries delivered by the pandemic, the continuing national debate over racial justice and the myriad daily shockers that have battered the national equanimity, I’ve learned it’s possible to feel hopeful and despondent at the same time.
Add to that, it’s summer, and though we’re no longer stuck indoors exactly, the usual seasonal pleasures seem a distant fantasy.
In these strange times, I find grounding in wine. Not through self-medication, though I do not disparage the buzz. But simply through the fascinating combination of grape, place and person that can make every good bottle either a new adventure or an old, beloved story.
I went in search of thrills and values late last month. Or rather, I did it pandemic style, letting my fingers do the shopping through the online inventories of New York wine shops. I tried them all at home and have come up with what I think is an excellent and unusual assortment of 20 wines under $20. They come from 11 different countries, in quite different proportion from my usual array.
For one thing, five of the wines are American, four from California and one from Washington. I don’t want to say that’s unprecedented, but California, for numerous reasons, is not usually fertile ground for good values. Perhaps bottles generally destined for restaurants ended up instead at retailers. Or maybe producers in California have finally taken up the challenge of making interesting, honest, moderately priced wines.
With these wines, don’t expect the most famous grapes from the most prized vineyard areas. Indeed, the two reds from California are blends, leading with carignan and petite sirah from various sites in the sweeping North Coast appellation. One of two whites is a blend of pinot gris and pinot blanc. The other is a chardonnay, though from the wilds of Mendocino.
These 20 bottles include none from Spain, usually a wonderful source of great values. Why not? I don’t know. Earlier this year Spanish bottles dominated a roundup of wines under $15, so don’t hesitate to experiment with a few on your own.
Now, I can’t emphasize this enough: I am not asserting that these 20 bottles are the best values in the world under $20. They are all excellent deals, but they represent simply a cross-section of what I could find on the websites of Manhattan retail shops in June 2020.
That, I am sorry to say, will differ from what’s available in Atlanta or Dallas, or Milwaukee or Salt Lake City, to say nothing of all the countries within internet reach of this column. Some of these bottles you may find, others not.
What to do if you can’t find a specific bottle? I recommend these steps:
Find a good wine shop. The most important step toward improving your drinking is to shop at a store that loves wine rather than treating it as a random consumer product. It will have assembled an inventory of scrupulously made wines from meticulously farmed grapes. These 20 bottles are not all big brands. You won’t find them at supermarkets.
If a good retailer does not have a bottle, ask the merchant to suggest an equivalent wine. Most shops will be happy to take on this challenge. If they don’t have, say, a Croatian posip or a German weissburgunder, perhaps the two most esoteric bottles in this selection, they may find something equally obscure that they esteem. Why not try something new on a recommendation?
Use an online tool, like wine-searcher.com, to track down bottles. You might find them in other stores. For American wines, dozens of states permit you to buy directly from wineries and have it shipped to your home.
Consult previous 20 Under $20 columns. Most of these bottles are still excellent deals, though some prices may have crept up slightly.
If all else fails — I don’t expect anybody to find all these bottles in one place, I sure didn’t — it’s nice to know that these wines exist in the world, even if they are not immediately available. Seriously, in the days before theater and restaurants closed down, I enjoyed reading about a play that opened in London or a restaurant in Los Angeles without the immediate expectation of experiencing either. You may not find this bottle now, but it may show up in the future if you keep your eyes open. And it’s great to know wines like these exist.
Thinking seasonally, this list emphasizes whites, sparklers and rosés, but it does include eight red wines, because, well, one always needs reds. Here are the 20 bottles, in no particular order.
Zlatan Otok Hvar Posip 2018 $17.99
This bottle from Croatia may seem obscure. But this sumptuous white, made from the indigenous grape posip, is rich, herbal, savory and deliciously refreshing. For now, wines like this, made from grapes little known to Americans in regions yet to achieve international popularity, are great values. Zlatan Otok, on the island of Hvar, was established in 1991. It’s now one of the larger wineries in the country. (Vinum USA, Basking Ridge, N.J.)
Le Vigne di Alice Vittorio Veneto Tajad Frizzante NV $18.99
This gently sparkling wine is a modern interpretation of the wines made in an era before the glera grape came to dominate Prosecco. It’s a blend of indigenous varieties, including 40 percent boschera, 40 percent verdiso and 20 percent glera. However, it’s not strictly old school. Cinzia Canzian, the winemaker, achieves the bubbles through the bulk-production Charmat method, also used for industrial Prosecco. But by comparison with mass-market bottles, this wine seems handmade, easygoing and perfectly refreshing. (PortoVino, Buffalo)
Troupis Arcadia Moschofilero Hoof & Lur 2019 $19.99
Moschofilero, like pinot gris and its Greek cousin, roditis, is a pink-skinned grape. If the juice sits briefly with the skins before vinification, it develops a pale salmon color, so let’s call Hoof & Lur a rosé. This wine, made without added yeast or filtration in the Peloponnese region of Greece, is fragrant and floral, bone-dry and lightly fruity. (DNS Wines/T. Elenteny Imports, New York)
Broc Cellars North Coast Love Red 2018 $19.99
Broc Cellars is one of my favorites among the new wave of California producers. Chris Brockway, the proprietor, specializes in tracking down well-farmed grapes, no matter how obscure, from undervalued vineyards around the state. The wines in Broc’s Love series are lower-priced and made to quench thirsts. With its lively fruit flavors, this red, a blend mostly of carignan, with some valdigué and syrah thrown in, is perfect for an outdoor barbecue. Chill it up, pour it out and prepare to be refreshed.
Dirty & Rowdy North Coast Unfamiliar Red 2017 $19.99
Dirty & Rowdy operates very much like Broc, prospecting California for grapes and vineyards off the beaten trail, though with a more puckish attitude. The 2017 Unfamiliar Red is more structured than the Broc Love Red. Its primary component is petite sirah, a notoriously tannic grape. The tannins are apparent here but very much in check. Zinfandel, carignan and mourvèdre round out the blend. It’s fresh and fruity and would be just right with juicy burgers off the grill.
Brand Pfalz Weissburgunder Trocken 2018 1 liter $19
Daniel and Jonas Brand, two brothers, work in the northern reaches of the Pfalz region of Germany, where they farm organically and make a wide selection of excellent wines, many of them, like this one, sold in 1-liter bottles. This is made of weissburgunder, also known as pinot blanc. It’s a creamy, textured wine that feels so good in the mouth you just want to keep drinking it, rolling it around and seeking out nuances. (Vom Boden, Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Niepoort Douro Tinto Twisted 2018 $19
Dirk Niepoort is one of Portugal’s most interesting and influential producers. Based in Douro, port country, he pioneered the movement toward making lighter, fresher wines that aimed for finesse rather than power. Twisted is a perfect example. It’s a field blend of port varieties, a wine that maybe 15 years ago would have been heavy and jammy. It’s far more of a precise wine these days, lightly tannic and fresh, reminiscent of port but delightful now. It will improve for a few years, too. (Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, N.Y.)
Chiara Condello Romagna Sangiovese Predappio 2016 $19.99
In Italy, sangiovese is not grown only in Tuscany. It’s the country’s most abundant red grape and has been cultivated in Emilia-Romagna for centuries. Chiara Condello, a young producer from a family of winemakers, makes this wine under her own label. It is 100 percent sangiovese, and it’s more overtly fruity than, say, a Chianti Classico. But it carries similarly dusty tannins and is nuanced and energetic. (Bowler Wine, New York)
Meinklang Österreich Prosa Sparkling Rosé 2019 $17.96
Meinklang, the biodynamic estate in the Burgenland region of Austria, almost never fails to delight. Whether blaufränkisch, grüner veltliner or anything else, the wines are always pure, fresh and delicious. This lightly sparkling rosé is made of pinot noir, tastes gently of red fruit and flowers, and will go with burgers, grilled salmon or even just by itself. (Zev Rovine Selections, Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Mother Rock Swartland Force Celeste Sémillon 2018 $17.99
Sémillon makes wonderful wines, but you don’t see them often. It’s a crucial component of Sauternes and the dry whites of Graves, even as many producers there reduce the proportion in favor of sauvignon blanc. Excellent, age-worthy versions come from the Hunter Valley of Australia, while California and Oregon make a few. This, from Mother Rock, is the first South African sémillon that I’ve tried. It’s bone dry and full of the grape’s characteristic aromas and flavors of beeswax, lemon and honey. Bravo. (Vine Street Imports, Mount Laurel, N.J.)
Leitz Rheingau Sylvaner Trocken Alte Reben 2016 $19.96
Sylvaner, or silvaner as it’s also spelled frequently, is a perpetually underrated grape. When conscientiously farmed and made with care, like this one, it’s a perfect spring or summer white. This wine, tangy and light, yet with flavors that resonate, won’t be easy to find. But I include it because it’s excellent, and perhaps it will inspire you to try a sylvaner, whether this one of from another producer like Stefan Vetter, Ostertag, Dirler-Cadé or maybe one you discover yourself. (Schatzi Wines, Milan, N.Y.)
Gaspard Vin de France Sauvignon Blanc 2018 $16.96
Jenny & François is one of the pioneering American importers of natural wines. Gaspard is the name of its private label, and this wine is delicious. Made from sauvignon blanc grown in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley, this wine will not remind you of the more pungent sauvignon blanc associated with New Zealand. It’s a more gentle, resonant style reminiscent of a restrained Sancerre. (Jenny & François Selections, New York)
Familie Bauer Wagram Terassen Roter Veltliner 2018 $16.96
What is roter veltliner, you ask, grüner veltliner’s whirling sibling? The grapes are actually unrelated, the ampelographers say, though it does have some similarities, like a pleasing peppery spiciness. But this Austrian wine, made from organic grapes, is richer and rounder, pure, clear and deep. It would make an interesting alternative to chardonnay. (Savio Soares Selections, New York)
Fabien Jouves Cahors Haute Côt(e) de Fruit Malbec 2018 $17.99
Fabien Jouves is one of the best young producers in Cahors in southwest France. Those wines meant to reflect the characteristics of particular terroirs are bottled under the name of his estate, Mas del Périé. Those intended primarily for thirst-quenching, like this one, carry his own name. The red grape of the region, malbec, is also known as côt, hence the pun on the label. Whichever name you choose for the grape, this is a less effusive expression of malbec than the familiar Argentine version, fruity yet tapered and lightly mineral. Chill a bit before serving. (Zev Rovine Selections)
Porter-Bass Poco à Poco Mendocino County Chardonnay 2018 $19.99
Poco à Poco is the budget label of Porter-Bass Vineyard and Winery, a producer in the Russian River Valley that is committed to biodynamic farming. This bottle, from a biodynamic vineyard in Mendocino County, is lean and lively with lovely citrus and herbal flavors, a blessed relief from heavy, oaky California chardonnays.
Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Gris/Pinot Blanc 2018 $19.99
Jim Clendenen is the man, or as he prefers to put it, the mind, behind Au Bon Climat. I’m not sure he is exactly unsung, but he is a hero for his advocacy both of the Santa Barbara region and for wines of restraint and subtlety. In the annals of American wine, where attention seems to gravitate to the newest thing, it’s always worth remembering what good wines he’s been making for years. This white blend, two-thirds pinot gris, one-third pinot blanc, is savory and sumptuous, not at all heavy but quite refreshing. It would be great with richer fish or chicken off the grill.
Punt Road Airlie Bank Yarra Valley Gris on Skins 2019 $19.99
Clear glass bottles are almost always unfortunate, as they expose wines to possible damage from light. But they seem irresistible to rosé producers as they show off the variety of pink colors possible in wine. This Australian one is a pale maraschino, and it is quite beautiful. More important, it’s absolutely dry and refreshing, with the faintest rasp of pleasant tannin to scrub the mouth clean. Made of pinot gris fermented with its skins, which accounts for that lovely color. (Little Peacock, New York)
Seresin Marlborough Momo Pinot Noir 2018 $18.99
Inexpensive pinot noir is often a dicey proposition. Too often the money-saving compromises mean that this difficult-to-grow grape was planted in the wrong place, or that the production process cut multiple corners. But this wine, made from organic grapes grown in the Marlborough region of New Zealand, is true to the spirit of pinot noir, resulting in a fresh, graceful, refreshing wine redolent of flowers and red fruit. Drink lightly chilled. (The Sorting Table, Napa, Calif.)
Rasa Vineyards Occam’s Razor Columbia Valley Red Wine Blend 2017 $19.99
This blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah calls for steaks grilled over coals. It’s got the substance and body — 14.5 percent alcohol — to handle fatty, juicy beef, yet it wears its heft easily without feeling heavy or syrupy. As befitting the name Occam’s Razor, which postulates that the simplest explanation is the most likely, this wine is not complicated, it’s just satisfying.
Pierre & Rodolphe Gauthier Domaine du Bel Air Bourgueil Jour de Soif 2019 $17.99
Domaine du Bel Air, run by a father-and-son team, makes fine, age-worthy wines from organic cabernet franc. Jour de Soif is their entry-level bottle, made from younger vines, which are nonetheless still 20 years old. Yet this is no mere vin de soif. You can sense the structure of the other cuvées in the fine tannins that give shape to this otherwise fresh and juicy wine. Not shy at 14.3 percent alcohol, it, too, would be great for grilled meats. (Polaner Selections)
Best Wines Under $15
Cune Rioja Crianza
"For an easygoing, fun, light-hearted time, try out a crianza," suggests Nisha Aher, sommelier and in-house retail manager at Verve Wine in Chicago. Compared to other Riojas, a variety of Spanish red wines, these spend time aging in oak. This garnacha blend showcases slick fruit and grainy tannins (that astringent quality that makes your mouth water) that pairs beautifully with dark meats, such as a holiday beef roast, rack of lamb or prime rib. "This has a long, savory finish that makes it a total winner for the dinner table," Aher adds.
Le Contesse Prosecco
Bubbly can be a steal if you steer clear of Champagne. While delicious, the cost per acre in that specific region of France means your wine will likely be over $30 for a quality bottle (still not that bad!). But if you&aposre watching your budget, try Spanish cava or an Italian prosecco like this one, adored by Jon McDaniel, a sommelier and the founder of Second City Soil in Chicago who was named one of Food & Wine&aposs 2018 Sommeliers of the Year.
"The holidays are a perfect time for celebrations and whether you are ringing in the New Year or having a holiday mimosa brunch, I have always loved Le Contesse. There is a lot of Prosecco out there, but Le Contesse is not only a family-run business in Veneto, Italy. It&aposs so versatile for any occasion," McDaniel says, and the hint of creamy citrus teams up nicely with everything from seafood to charcuterie.
Weingut Laurenz V. Singing Grüner Veltliner
This Austrian white is a favorite of many wine pros, including Rachael Lowe, the beverage director at Spiaggia in Chicago and James Beard Award-nominated sommelier. The under-the-radar, equally crisp and refreshing white wine is a wonderful wallet-friendly alternative to sauvignon blanc. "This is an amazing grüner veltliner with an expansive body and long finish which stands up well to a variety of appetizer recipes, or it can certainly be enjoyed by itself. Aromas of pear, golden apple, a hint of tropical fruits and a stony minerality finish with bright acidity," she says, all of which makes it a very food-friendly wine.
Setzer Grüner Veltliner
In fact, why not go big when you&aposre staying home? "Consider the brilliance of the one-liter bottles [eight 5-ounce glasses] of awesome grüner veltliner Austria is putting out. For family holiday parties, what better way to do a mixed bag of food than with the friendliest food-pairing wine around? Setzer does an extraordinary grüner veltliner, full of savory and citrus flavors. Drink it with the first several courses—or hours—of your party," Aher says. Even if your gathering is small, this twist-top option is a good investment. Leftovers will save well for up to three days after the festivities if you store it in the fridge.
Quinta da Lixa Aromas das Castas Grande Escolha Vinho Verde
For another crowd-pleasing, easy-pairing white, try this low-alcohol Portuguese wine. "Delightful, and sometimes effervescent vinho verde, is bright, fresh and fruity," explains Brianne Cohen, a Los Angeles-based event producer and certified sommelier. "I taste green apple and pear, stone fruit, plus a slight tropical note. This wine is yearning for some seafood," she says. Bring on the Feast of the Seven Fishes!
Château de Berne Romance Rosé
Don&apost reserve pink wine for summer alone, McDaniel says. It&aposs a terrific year-round choice, especially when the price is this right. "Rosé from Provence may be the perfect wine for the winter and the holidays. Not only does it combine the juicy berry flavors that red wine-drinkers seek, it is crispy, zippy and fresh to please the white wine drinkers," he adds. Try it with anything from turkey to ham and sweet potatoes to cranberries.
Be Human 2018 Merlot Columbia Valley
Despite what the 2004 movie Sideways might lead you to believe, merlot can be just as magnificent as its fellow red wines, Cohen believes. "Poor merlot. She was revered round the world and then fell from grace in the early 2000s. She was kicked to the curb by the sexier pinot noir," she says. "But don&apost sleep on merlot, which some believe is cabernet&aposs red-headed younger sister. Her wines tend to be full, lush and filled with red fruit characteristics. I found this wine warm, balanced, juicy and fruity," making it a delight with any recipe with blue cheese, pork or mushrooms. We know this one is *technically* not under $15, but we promise your extra dollar will be well spent on this bottle.
Made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, this is the gold standard of sparkling wine. Styles range from lean and crisp with lots of lemon, green apple and stony minerality to rich and full with aromas of brioche, toffee and baked apples. Rosé Champagne will display more red fruit and berry aromas. The hippest category of Champagne these days is known as Grower Champagne, so called because the winemaker also grows the grapes – a relatively uncommon practice in the region. These tend to be rather pricey in the US (but if you are going to France, you can get great deals) — think $50+. Henri’s Reserve is a good resource and they ship nationally.
36 Gifts and Gadgets For Anyone Who Loves Drinks
Cremant de Loire, Burgundy, Jura, Alsace, etc
Cremant means creamy in French and is the word used to denote sparkling wine made in the “Methode Champenoise” in any region other than Champagne – for example: Cremant de Loire, Cremant de Bourgogne (Burgundy), Cremant de Jura and Cremant d’Alsace. In each region it is made from different grapes. In the Loire, it will often be Chenin Blanc or Cabernet Franc in the Alsace it might be Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc or even Gewürztraminer. This is a great way to get close to the quality of Champagne at a fraction of the price.
Blanquette de Limoux
Hailing from Limoux, a small sub-region of the Languedoc in southern France, this wine is also made in the Méthode Champenoise primarily from Mauzac (a local grape also known as Blanquette). Crémant de Limoux is from the same region, but made primarily from Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Both are great choices. Limoux is one of the oldest sparkling wine-producing regions in France – dating to 1531.
Made from the Glera grape in Italy in the Charmat method, Prosecco is perhaps America’s favorite bubbly. Because it is not aged “sur lie” as Champagne is, the flavors of Prosecco tend to be simpler and less complex. Think white flowers, apple and pear. Some even have a bit of sweetness, especially cheaper versions.
Spain’s sparkling wines can be extremely high quality, but historically the ones that were exported to the U.S. were not the nation’s best. This is changing and I encourage you to seek them out. Cordoniu is a quality producer with a fairly large production that is widely available. They are also made in the Methode Champenoise, and many are aged even longer than Champagne is. The principal grapes are Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada, but many others can be used as well.
Hailing from the Lombardy region of Italy (also the home of Milan), Franciacorta can be delicious, but unfortunately it also tends to be overpriced. It is made in the Methode Champenoise from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir (Nero) and Pinot Blanc (Bianco). As a warmer region than chilly northern France, the wines tend to be riper and fuller and can lack the zesty acidity and minerality of Champagne.
Basically any sparkling wine made in Germany. This is another category that has suffered from poor quality production and lack of attention. There are some producers who are really doing it right, though. I recently had a Riesling Sekt that was phenomenal, with all the green apple, nectarine and minerality of a still Riesling, plus the added sparkling bonus.
American Sparkling Wine
In the US we don’t have any laws about what grapes can be included in what wines, so technically just about anything could be used. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the most common choices. Some are made in the Methode Champenoise, but many are not. In general, cooler growing regions are better bets because the acidity in the grapes is preserved. Parts of Northern California and upstate New York are examples, although improbably some of the best value US sparkling comes from New Mexico’s Gruet. Schramsberg from the North Coast is my favorite domestic bubbly.
Moscato d’Asti & Brachetto d’Acqui
Sweet sparkling wines from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, Moscato d’Asti is made from Moscato grapes in the Asti region and is white, while Brachetto d’Acqui is made from Brachetto grapes near Acqui Terme, and is a Rosé. Both wines range from slightly to very sweet. Bad examples are cloying, while good ones are delicious as an aperitif or with dessert.
Once only available at very few Italian restaurants, Lambrusco is making a comeback and can now be spotted all over the hippest of Brooklyn locales. A sparkling red wine that can be off-dry, it comes from Emilia Romagna in Italy, also home to such delicacies as Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano — which is what you should pair it with. Grasparossa di Castelvetro is considered the best sub-region.
Sparkling Wine From Anywhere Else
Almost every wine producing country in the world produces sparkling wine of some sort. Without any clear regulations or reputation, however, it can be challenging to identify what will be delicious, and what might be an unfortunate experiment. Some fun and unlikely examples of sparkling-producing places include Austria, South Africa, Australia and even England. To seek these gems out, I recommend finding a good local wine merchant who can point you in the right direction.
A word on pricing…
As our recent infographic illustrates, making sparkling wine of quality is fairly complex. For Champagne, Cava and Franciacorta, there are strict rules on how long a wine must age. For example, a non-vintage Champagne must rest at least 15 months “en tirage” and vintage Champagne must rest for three years. Accordingly, you’ll get much better quality if you trade up a bit in price.
Disclaimer: The article’s author’s employer helps to promote wines from Languedoc.
Adrienne is a native New Yorker who now lives in Napa with a penchant for all things food & beverage. Previously she co-founded Dipsology, a guide to great cocktails in NYC, and she is also a Certified Sommelier. Follow her on twitter @alstillman.
The Best Affordable White Wine, $15 and Under
Here are more than 60 still and sparkling whites, all steals, that are on store shelves now. These terrific bottles come from some of the world's best wineries.
There are plenty of super-pricey white wines in the world𠅊 bottle of Domaine de la Romanພ-Conti Montrachet will set you back $5,000𠅋ut most of us are not billionaires. Fine. Life may not be fair in that way, but it&aposs got its good points, too: For instance, you can also seriously improve your evening by picking up one of these great white wines that all run $15 or under. Even if you are a billionaire, in fact.
2019 Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde ($8)
A blend of Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal Branco grapes, this is bracing, with citrus and green apple notes.
2019 La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Luberon Blanc ($8)
From Rhône&aposs southernmost zone, this is fresh and peachy.
2019 Indaba Western Cape Chenin Blanc ($10)
Lemon-lime and herb flavors mark this refreshing white.
2020 Berger Kremstal Grüner Veltliner ($11 for 1 liter)
Sealed with an easy-to-pop crown cap, this zesty one-liter bottling makes a great summer white.
2020 Le Jaja de Jau Pays d&aposOc Sauvignon Blanc ($11)
Tart and refreshing, with lime and grapefruit flavors.
2019 Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore Secco ($8)
Fresh and fragrant, with citrus, peach and floral flavors.
NV Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserva ($10)
This low-priced gem is packed with green apple and citrus.
2017 Catena Alamos Mendoza Chardonnay ($10)
Oak aging adds a vanilla note to tangy citrus and pear flavors.
2019 d&aposArenberg The Stump Jump McLaren Vale White ($12)
A medium-bodied blend of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Marsanne, and Roussanne that&aposs packed with fruit flavor.
2019 Santa Carolina Casablanca Reserva Chardonnay ($13)
The Casablanca Valley&aposs cooler climate imparts a nice vibrancy to ripe apricot and peach flavors.
2019 Maculan Pino & Toi Veneto ($15)
A peachy, floral blend of Toi (formerly known as Tocai), Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio at a super price.
2019 Veramonte Casablanca Reserva Sauvignon Blanc ($11)
Bold tropical aromas are followed by lime flavors.
2019 Ken Forrester Petit Stellenbosch Chardonnay ($14)
A creamy, aromatic white from renowned South African vintner Ken Forrester.
2020 Los Vascos Casablanca Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($10)
Zippy and refreshing, with savory lime and grass flavors.
2020 Chateau Ste Michelle Dry Riesling ($11)
Year in and year out, this Washington State Riesling—which is crisp, dry, and full of vibrant lime-zesty fruit—is one of the best deals in white wine around.
2018 Hogue Cellars Columbia Valley Riesling ($11)
Citrus and peach flavors mark this lovely off-dry bargain.
2019 Elsa Bianchi Mendoza Torrontés ($11)
Orange blossom and minerals mark this delicious white from one of the coolest areas in Mendoza&aposs San Rafael subregion.
2019 Marqués de Cres Ruedo Verdejo ($10)
A citrus and floral-tinged Verdejo from esteemed Rioja producer Marqués de Cres.
2019 Anselmo Mendes Pássaros Vinho Verde Loureiro ($10)
Loaded with bright, zippy lime and green pear flavors, this refreshing white is a terrific value.
2020 Condes de Albarei Rias Baixas Albariño ($14)
An ideal summer sipper, this Albariño features light, zesty green apple notes and a salty kick.
2020 Yalumba Y Series Unwooded South Australia Viognier ($11)
Crisp and evocative, this affordable version of a notoriously difficult grape to grow is particularly impressive.
2018 Santa Rita Casablanca Reserva Sauvignon Blanc ($13)
Consistently an amazing value, this Sauvignon Blanc is loaded with fragrant lime, herb and tropical flavors.
2018 The Chard Project California Chardonnay ($14)
An appealing everyday Chardonnay with ample yellow apple flavors at an incredible value.
2019 Dry Creek Vineyard Clarksburg Chenin Blanc ($14)
Made with grapes from a vineyard located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, this features lively citrus tones.
2019 Edna Valley Vineyard Paragon Edna Valley Chardonnay ($13)
A great everyday white, bursting with refreshing green apple and citrus notes.
2019 A to Z Wineworks Oregon Pinot Gris ($15)
A great value, with bright apple and lime on the palate.
2019 Acrobat Foley Oregon Pinot Gris ($14)
A great value full of satiny quince, nut and apple flavors.
2018 Lamoreaux Landing Finger Lakes Dry Riesling ($13)
This white&aposs robust peach flavors are deliciously juicy and made vivid by bright acidity.
2019 Château de Saint Cosme Little James&apos Basket Press Vin de Pays d&aposOc ($14)
This unusual, crisply delicious blend of lush, tropical Viognier and zesty Sauvignon Blanc comes at a compellingly low price.
2019 Inama Soave Classico ($15)
Citrusy and refreshing, this Soave boasts a round texture and loads of minerals on the finish.
2019 Tasca d&aposAlmerita Sicilia Regaleali Bianco ($14)
Almerita&aposs Regaleali estate turns out this fresh, floral-edged blend of three native grapes.
2019 Pierre Sparr Alsace Pinot Blanc ($15)
Fresh apple and pear notes mark this food-friendly wine.
2019 Mulderbosch Western Cape Chenin Blanc ($15)
Bursting with intense zesty lime and green apple flavors.
2018 Hugel Alsace Gentil ($15)
This filigreed, aromatic white blend has lots of personality.
2019 Bodegas Nekeas Vega Sindoa Navarra Chardonnay ($13)
Silky baked pear and stone fruit mark this great-value white.
2019 Kendall-Jackson Vintner&aposs Reserve California Chardonnay ($13)
Straightforward citrus flavors are rich yet focused in this tasty KJ white.
2020 Cousiño-Macul Isidora Maipo Sauvignon Gris ($15)
Lemon-lime flavors reveal a pleasant trace of sweetness in this Chilean white.
2020 CVNE Monopole Rioja Blanco ($14)
Zippy acidity and ripe melon and citrus notes make this a textbook introduction to the Viura grape.
NV Mionetto Prosecco Treviso Brut ($13)
Crisp and bright, with zippy lemon and apple accents.
2019 Matetic Corralillo San Antonio Sauvignon Blanc ($15)
Marked by vivacious passion fruit and grapefruit.
2019 Buitenverwachting Constantia Sauvignon Blanc ($15)
A firm backbone of acidity and brisk grass and mineral flavors.
2019 Simonsig Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc ($14)
There&aposs an appealing green apple note amid citrus flavors.
2019 Alois Lageder Alto Adige Pinot Grigio ($15)
A fragrant, mineral white that makes a strong case for the Pinot Grigio grape.
2019 Martín Cx Albariño ($14)
This widely available bottling makes a great introduction to Albariño, with zesty lime and herb flavors and a hint of fizz.
2020 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc / Viognier ($14)
Melony and crisp, this juicy but unoaked white comes from a producer primarily known for high-end Napa Valley Cabernets.
2019 Badenhorst The Curator White Blend ($11)
South African wine superstar Adi Badenhorst crafts this supple white from Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier from cool vineyards on the country&aposs western coast.
2019 Novellum Chardonnay ($13)
Three months on the lees (leftover yeasts) from Domaine Lafage&aposs Viognier-based whites give this Chardonnay from France&aposs Roussillon surprising depth and richness.
2019 Herencia Altés Garnatxa Blanca ($14)
Old vines in Spain&aposs Terra Alta region are the source for this fresh, juicy white Grenache, which has a touch of citrus peel bitterness (in a nice way) on the finish.
2019 Azul y Garanza Viura ($13 for 1 liter)
A Spanish white for Sauvignon Blanc lovers, this liter-sized bottle from Navarra offers bright, grapefruit-inflected flavors that would be perfect with raw oysters.
2019 Telmo Rodriguez Basa White ($15)
One of Spain&aposs most talented winemakers, Rodriguez works in a number of regions and with a number of grapes varieties. This spritely white from Rueda has fresh lime and mineral notes.
2019 Garofoli Macrina Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico ($15)
This floral, straw-colored Italian white ends on the almondy note typical of Verdicchio. It&aposs eminently refreshing, and ideal for an early evening cocktail party.
2019 Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio/Verduzzo ($14)
Famed Amarone producer Masi doesn&apost just make powerful, pricey reds. Witness this minerally blend of Pinot Grigio with the far less well known, local Friulian variety Verduzzo.
2018 Hess Select Monterey County Chardonnay ($13)
Creamy pear notes and a judicious amount of oak spice make this Chardonnay from California&aposs cool Monterey region an excellent deal.
2019 J Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay ($13)
Ripe peach and tropical fruit notes abound in this full-bodied white. For those who like their Chardonnay in the richer and more creamy California style, this is a consistent winner.
2020 Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino ($14)
This Sardinian white has a seashell minerality to it, together with plenty of citrusy fruit. Grilled shrimp would be an ideal pairing.
2019 La Carraia Orvieto Classico ($12)
Floral and melony, this Italian white𠅊 mix of Grechetto and Procanico, with a little Viognier and Vermentino to add aromatic lift—is a crisp winner at an excellent price.
2020 Vermonte Sauvignon Blanc Reserva Made with Organic Grapes ($12)
This organic Chilean Sauvignon Blanc is peppery, grapefruity and has a finish that recalls salty lime zest—think spicy margarita in wine form and you won&apost be far off.
2020 Cousiño-Macul Isidora Sauvignon Gris ($15)
Sauvignon Gris offers a little more texture than its more well known relation, Sauvignon Blanc. In this Chilean white, it has green apple and cut grass notes, with a hint of white pepper on the finish.
2019 Kris Pinot Grigio ($15)
A consistent white wine value, Kris consistently delivers more personality than most similarly priced Pinot Grigios—think white peaches and a hint of citrus blossom, dry and light.
2019 Bila-Haut Côtes de Roussillon Blanc ($15)
Famed Rhône winemaker Michel Chapoutier started this Roussillon several years back - the white, a blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Macabeu & Vermentino, is lush and citrusy.
10 Popular White Wine Grape Varieties From All Over the World
Riesling, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc are by far the most popular white wine grapes in the world. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any other excellent white wine grapes as much popular. But for some reason, they are not much familiar to folks.
Here we will go through the best white wines worldwide, the regions that produce them, as well as, what they bring to the table in terms of acidity and flavors.
Riesling is pretty much a synonym for white wine grape, together with chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. This variety originates from the Rhine region, Rheingau, and Mosel. Each of them is in Germany.
Riesling wines are high in acidity and are very aromatic, featuring tropical or floral notes. Typically, Riesling is rarely mixed with other grape varieties and exhibits strong fragrant notes similar to Gewurztraminer wine.
#9 Sauvignon Blanc
This wine variety is famous for its dry and refreshing taste. The origin of this variety is Sauvignon in France. In France, great Sauvignon Blanc is also grown in the Loire Valley, as well as the world-famous Bordeaux region. Its aroma can go from fruity to floral, conditioned whether the wine has been grown in a tropical climate or in a cooler region.
Chardonnay is part of the holy trio of white wines: Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. Chardonnay wines can be found in almost any restaurant worldwide and are always very popular among wine lovers. Its origin is the Burgundy region in France. But, Chardonnay wines from both Australia and California are also very popular.
Its origin is Spain, to be more precise, the dry and hot regions in central Spain like Valdepenas and La Mancha. It accounts for almost one-third of all grapes grown in Spain. At the moment, it is ranked third worldwide in terms of planted surface. The only two varieties that cover more surface than Airen are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This variety is also known as very resistant to both diseases and drought.
Airen wines are quite tasty and easy to drink. Typically they are low on acidity and features notes of mature fruit (grapefruit, pineapple, and banana).
Torrontes comes from Argentina and is very similar to wines made from the Muscat variety. Wines made from Torrontes have aromas of apricot and peach. They are aromatic wines featuring smooth texture. In terms of acidity, they range from moderate to high acidity.
#5 Gruner Veltliner
This is Austrian’s national grape that accounts for more than one-third of all vineyards in the country. Most of those vineyards can be found in the northeast regions of the country such as Kamptal, Kremstal, and Wachau. Almost by default, they are alongside the Danube river. Wines made from Gruner Veltliner are slightly fruity with notes of white pepper.
This is a golden-skinned grape variety that produces sweet and dry vines. The best Semillon wines are made by wine producers like Château d’Yquem which is located in the famous Bordeaux region. Wines there are dry and sweet and are known as Bordeaux Blanc. Semillon is also grown in Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.
This variety is mainly grown in France’s region of Alsace and in Western Germany. It became very popular after the Second World War as it was one of the varieties used for making Liebfraumilch wine. Even today, Silvaner is very popular and in demand, both in Germany and Europe.
#2 Pinot Blanc
Pinot Blanc is primarily grown in France’s Burgundy region and in Alsace which is situated in the northeast region of France. Outside France, Pinot Blanc is grown in Italy and Spain where it is known as Pinot Bianco, Austria (goes under the name Klevner), Germany (recognized under the name Weissburgunder).
Pinot Blanc wines have fruity aromas (apple or citrus) and feature strong floral characteristics. Most wines made from this variety are for immediate consumption. Also, almost by default, Pinot Blanc wines are very acidic.
This variety has an Italian origin from the Veneto region which is in the northeast part of the Italian peninsula. Best Garganega vineyards are located in Bianco di Custoza, Colli Euganei, Colli Berci, and Bianco di Custoza. This variety is known for its almond and lemon notes.
Honorable Mention: Albarino
This variety is also known as Alvarihno and is mainly found along Portugal’s and Spain’s Atlantic coastline. In Portugal, Albarino is mainly grown in the Vinho Verde region, while across the border, in Spain, it is mainly found in the Galicia region where it accounts for almost 90% of all grape varieties grown. This white grape variety is recognized by its distinctive botanical aroma, as well as its high acidity.
These are just some of the most popular white wine grape varieties from around the world. What’s your pick?
Please note: We’ve omitted less typical wines such as Muscat dessert wine from this list, even though we did include similar varietals like Torrontes.
The 50 Best Wines of 2019
It’s been another wine-filled year at the VinePair HQ, and while the months passed by in a blur, 50 bottles stood out above the rest and etched a place in our memories. To help readers enter the new year (and decade!) with a list of wonderful experiences to discover with a glass in hand, we’re sharing our top 50 wines of 2019.
As in previous years, this annual ranking tells a story in 50 bottles. These labels are not only the wines we enjoyed the most over the past 12 months they’re what we consider to represent the most important trends in wine right now.
This Is The Last Corkscrew You’ll Ever Buy
Leading the conversation is the class and quality offered by American Chardonnay. The days of “anything but Chardonnay” became a distant memory when we tasted the bottles of several domestic producers, who are highlighting the wonders and nuance of the world’s most popular white variety.
As the months went on, we became increasingly excited about Spanish wines, especially those from less explored regions, grapes, and producers. Our staff, panelists, and wine director agree Spain is currently offering some of the best value for money, and most exciting drinking experiences right now.
It’s also been a year of triumphant comebacks from grapes that, but for the noble work of a few producers, could have become extinct. Italy more than any other nation proved notably nostalgic in this respect.
All wines in this ranking were first sampled and reviewed by VinePair’s tasting department. We then compiled a “short list” of bottles that received an A+ or A rating, and whittled that list down to 50 wines using multiple criteria.
All bottles must be readily available in the U.S., offer great value for money, and be drinking well right now. None of the wines from last year’s list could be considered for inclusion, and we placed a limit of one bottle per winery.
The VinePair staff then debated, and debated again where each bottle should place. We finally tasted the potential top 10 multiple times to cement our final ranking.
Here are VinePair’s top 50 wines of 2019, tasted and ranked.
50. Trivento Amado Sur 2016 ($14)
Malbec lends a medium-bodied, dark-fruit core to this affordable Argentine blend. Bonarda lifts the wine, adding juicy strawberry notes, while a splash of Syrah finishes things off with peppery, herbaceous vibes. This wine is fun and lively, and we believe everyone will love it.
49. Château Rieussec R de Rieussec Blanc Sec 2018 ($25)
Bordeaux might be best-known for its red blends, but the region also makes awesome whites like this zippy Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon blend. It is simultaneously salty and sweet, yet racy acidity and tart green apple notes are present to balance it out.
48. Peter Zemmer ‘Rollhutt’ Pinot Noir 2017 ($19)
From Alto Adige in northeastern Italy comes this soft and elegant Pinot Noir. Dark cherry and redcurrant flavors give the wine a fruity flavor, while notes of crunchy leaves and freshly turned soil add nuance. A bonafide bargain at less than $20.
47. LAN Gran Reserva Rioja 2010 ($23)
A regional stalwart, LAN’s three-letter name is shorthand for wines of quality, balance, and exceptional value. Its 2010 Gran Reserva, the current release, is rich in tart red-fruit character, sweet and spicy oak notes, and the leathery, tobacco-leaf hallmarks of age.
46. Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 ($24)
This soulful Chianti Classico stays true to the traditional style, with aromas and flavors of ripe cherries and forest floor. Some swirling and a little patience coax out vibrant blackberry notes and a crack of black pepper. Did someone say pasta dinner?
45. Domaine Bousquet Brut Rosé NV ($10)
Made from organic, hand-picked Pinot Noir grapes in Argentina’s Uco Valley, we can’t figure out exactly how this wine is so cheap. But affordability is by no means its only attribute. This South American sparkler is concentrated, fruity, and refreshing, and begs to be bought by the case-load.
44. Freemark Abbey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($44)
This structured Cabernet Sauvignon is beautifully balanced, offering nuanced notes of blackberry, cherry, fresh tobacco leaf, and leather. While $44 is no paltry sum, in the realm of Napa Cab, and from a noteworthy, historic producer, this is as close as you will find to a bargain bottle in the category.
43. Sokol Blosser Evolution White Blend NV ($15)
An outlier in every sense, this multi-vintage white blend contains a total of nine different grape varieties, including Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, and Semillon. Intensely aromatic, it is the perfect answer to that trickiest of wine pairing conundrums: What pairs well with spicy, fusion-style cuisine?
42. Gustave Lorentz Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé ($24)
Outside of Champagne, Crémant d’Alsace is France’s leading sparkling wine appellation. This 100 percent Pinot Noir rosé is a great example of why the category deserves international attention. Grapefruit brûlée leaps out on the nose, while the palate is a soft and silky mix of wild strawberries and cherry coulis.
41. Cantina Tramin Kellerei ‘Stoan’ 2017 ($33)
This aromatic white wine contains a non-traditional mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gewürztraminer grapes. Each variety is individually fermented in large oak barrels before the wines are blended and left to age for several months in bottles. The end result is an impeccably balanced wine with intense fruity aromas and flavors, and a lasting, creamy finish.
40. Niner Wine Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 ($35)
A sprawling wine region on California’s Central Coast, Paso Robles highlights the softer side of Cabernet Sauvignon. This bright and juicy red has a velvety palate that’s rich in black-fruit flavors. The variety’s signature tannins are present but seamlessly integrated, while refreshing acidity keeps things lively.
39. Bodegas Nekeas ‘El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa’ Old Vine Garnacha 2018 ($26)
Made from grapes grown on 70- to 100-year-old vines in Spain’s Navarra wine region, there’s a lot going on in this wine. Red fruit aromas are seasoned with hints of clove, mint, eucalyptus, and cracked pepper. The palate is lean, fruity, and structured. For just $14, this is outstanding winemaking.
38. Jean Reverdy et Fils Sancerre ‘La Reine Blanche’ 2018 ($21)
Displaying all the hallmarks of classic Sancerre, this wine has a citrus and green fruit core, topped off with subtle bell pepper and a flinty finish. Lively acidity calls out for some creamy goat cheese or a light seafood dish.
37. Markham Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot 2014 ($21)
One of Napa Valley’s oldest wineries, Markham Vineyards offers this stunning Merlot for just over $20. Off the bat, it’s a little reserved, but soon serves fruity cherry and plum flavors, textured by black pepper and earthy cassis. Grab a decanter, fire up Netflix, and your Saturday night is sorted.
36. Domaine Matrot Meursault 2017 ($99)
This Meursault is exactly the style of Chardonnay many New World producers dream of emulating. It is the definition of balance and delicate oak influence, with vanilla and baking spice aromas mingling with pear and green apple. The palate is rich and luxurious, and goes a long way to justifying the wine’s lofty price tag.
35. Torbreck Barossa Valley Woodcutter’s Shiraz 2017 ($23)
Sure, the bottle label reads 15 percent ABV, but your palate will say otherwise when sipping this graceful Shiraz. You’ll focus on its punchy sour cherry fruit notes, soft tannins, and long, earthy finish. It’s full-bodied, but in a comforting way, like your favorite below-40 winter jacket.
34. Viña Garces Silva Amayna Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($25)
Character-wise, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc falls midway between the in-your-face nature of New Zealand “Savvy B” and the elegantly restrained wines of Sancerre. Viña Garces creates an excellent example of this with notes of gooseberries, white peaches, and basil. Its acidity is less intense than other wines made from the variety, providing a slightly heavier texture, which we love.
33. Remhoogte Reserve ‘Honeybunch’ Chenin Blanc 2017 ($25)
Earthy aromas of a bruised apple, lime, and honeysuckle leap out of this South African Chenin Blanc, and are soon followed by notes of quince paste, jasmine, and a waft of ginger. The depth of descriptors continues onto the palate, which has a soft, creamy texture and zesty finish.
32. Domaine Le Tour Vieille Banyuls Reserva NV ($24)
Sweet, fortified Banyuls wines are made in a similar manner to Port but feature the native grapes of France’s Roussillon region (namely Grenache and Carignan). As with all great dessert wines, the most attractive aspect of this Banyuls is its refreshing acidity, which holds together sweet dried apricot and caramel notes. A lengthy, nutty finish means you won’t forget about it in a hurry.
31. Marco Felluga Molamatta Collio Bianco 2015 ($24)
From Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, this wine is full-bodied and structured, but refreshing at the same time. It pairs with almost all foods, though jibes best with poultry and seafood. Best of all, it will comfortably age for a few years in your cellar (read: wine rack inside your closet).
30. Bodegas Agro de Bazán Granbazán Etiqueta Verde 2018 ($19)
When Albariño is “done” right, the wine’s intense acidity is matched by concentrated fruit flavors. This bottle is one such success story, with mouthwatering acidity that seems to magnify flavors of lemon, ginger, dried apricots, and wet stones. It is an ideal pre-dinner bottle, pairing well with Spanish cheeses, almonds, and salty olives.
29. Tommasi Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2015 ($65)
The nose on this wine is alive with aromas of savory baking spices, caramelized plums, and cracked black pepper. It’s full-bodied and vibrant on the palate, with added notes of dark cherry and espresso. Neither its profile nor its price tag make this an “everyday” wine, but this is Amarone at its harmonious best, and a bottle fit for special occasions.
28. Craggy Range Winery Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016 ($27)
If your prior experiences with New Zealand only include Sauvignon Blanc and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, it’s time you discovered the nation’s expressive Pinot Noir wines. This one has a fruit-forward character with notes of seasoned dried herbs, truffle, and pipe tobacco. Oak aging gives further aromas, including desiccated coconut, and adds playful tannins to the palate.
27. Inama Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico 2017 ($24)
Soave means “smooth” in Italian, and that’s the perfect descriptor for this wine. It has a rich nose that opens with intense aromas of pears and wet rocks. With a swirl, sweet jasmine petals float with the scent of tart white peaches. The palate is rich and weighty, but kept in check by medium acidity.
26. Domaine Karydas Naoussa Xinomavro 2015 ($30)
The translucent cherry hue of this Xinomavro belies its powerful character. Reminiscent of the Nebbiolo wines of Barolo and Barbaresco, this complex red has striking aromas of cherries and potting soil that continue onto the palate. They’re met there by intense tannins and bracing acidity, which eventually give way to the graceful perfume of violet petals.
25. Rusack Vineyards Santa Barbara County Chardonnay 2017 ($29)
From the moment this Chardonnay hits your palate, it doesn’t let go. Prepare to be tongue-struck with green apples, lemon zest, and chalk dust (sounds strange, tastes delicious). There’s oak influence too, but the typical descriptors (vanilla, toast, and butter) are subtle.
24. Nalle Winery Dry Creek Valley Estate Old Vine Zinfandel 2015 ($45)
In an ideal world, all old vine Zinfandels would follow this wine’s lead: relatively low alcohol content (13.8 percent ABV), refreshing acidity, and concentrated fruit flavors that include earth, dark berries, and pepper, rather than just jammy dark fruit. It’s only available from the winery’s website, and will set you back almost $50, but this wine is worth it.
23. Domaine Matrot Auxey-Duresses Côte de Beaune 2016 ($40)
This a relatively affordable introduction to the red wines of Burgundy. It’s heavy on the nose but treads lightly on the palate, with baking spice aromas and dark cherry notes traveling to the supple, velvety palate. You could stash it away for a few years, but this wine is drinking more than fine right now.
22. Tenute Cisa Asinari Marchesi di Gresy Martinenga ‘La Serra’ Moscato d’Asti NV ($18)
This is the best Moscato d’Asti on the market right now. This low-ABV sparkling wine will brighten up any brunch or aperitivo hour with its gentle bubbles, orange blossom, sage, honeysuckle, and lavender notes.
21. Gruet Blanc de Noirs NV ($16)
Made using the “traditional method,” where secondary fermentation takes place in-bottle, this majority-Pinot-Noir Blanc de Noirs spends a minimum of 24 months aging on lees. The result is a complex, layered sparkling wine, with notes of baked apples, vanilla, and toasted brioche on both the nose and palate. The wine retails for a barely believable $16, and can be found pretty much everywhere, making it a staple on our wine shelf.
20. Familia Zuccardi ‘Aluvional’ Paraje Altamira 2014 ($89)
When you first inhale this wine’s aromas, for a brief millisecond it feels like you’re about to taste the type of jammy, approachable Malbec that won over American palates in the early aughts. Then, from nowhere, complex notes of herbs, flinty minerals, and dried earth take center stage. From this point onward, it’s overwhelmingly apparent that this is an outstanding bottle and the future of fine wine in Argentina.
19. Domaine Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko 2018 ($32)
If you like zesty, mineral-rich whites, or have a big ol’ fillet of fish waiting to hit the plancha, this is the wine for you. The very same lemon zest you’ll season your fish with is present on the wine’s nose, as are wet rocks, pepper, and crisp white pears. Its palate is lively, with vibrant acidity and a concentrated green-fruit flavors.
18. Château Batailley Grand Cru Classé 2015 ($81)
One of the oldest estates in the Médoc, Château Batailley is a fifth-growth producer located in Pauillac. Within the appellation, its wines have a longstanding reputation for great value (relatively speaking), and the 2015 vintage is no exception. It has concentrated black currant, leather, tobacco, and white pepper aromas. On the palate, it is simply luxurious. If you want to splurge on Bordeaux, look no further.
17. Bodegas Avancia ‘Cuvee de O’ Mencia 2017 ($16)
While Mencía is best associated with Spain’s Bierzo D.O., when grown in the neighboring Valdeorras D.O., the wines take on a slightly lighter profile and offer more complexity. This bottle is a stunning example of that and shows further nuance from oak aging. Its aromas include wild berries, cracked pepper, and dried herbs. Blackberries and a savory vegetal note arrive on the palate, along with grippy tannins and a persisting finish.
16. Angela Estate ‘Abbott Claim’ Pinot Noir 2015 ($57)
Hailing from a tiny subregion within the Willamette Valley AVA, the Yamhill-Carlton District, this Pinot Noir is decidedly Old World in character. It is complex and nuanced with an attractive bouquet that includes topsoil, green leaves, and tart red cherries. Red-fruit flavors continue on the palate, which has well-integrated tannins and textured minerality.
15. Clos Du Val Three Graces 2016 ($180)
From a famed wine estate in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District, Three Graces is a Cabernet-Sauvignon-driven blend that also includes Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It is fruity, structured, and layered, with well-incorporated tannins providing the finesse its name suggests. This wine is drinking remarkably well right now, despite its young age. It promises to get even better with time.
14. Ravines Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc 2017 ($21)
This wine is a great example of why Cabernet Franc is fast becoming the Finger Lakes’ signature red variety. Its aromas transport you to an afternoon walk through an autumnal forest, with brambly black fruit backed up by fallen leaves and damp stones. The palate has a subtle grip and generous acidity, and its 12.9 percent ABV allows a lengthy drinking experience.
13. Elvio Cogno ‘Anas-Cetta’ Langhe Nascetta di Novello 2016 ($30)
Elvio Cogno was one of a handful of producers that saved Nacsetta, Langhe’s only indigenous white variety, from extinction in the early ‘90s. This wine proves what a loss that would have been. It’s highly aromatic, with citrus and tropical fruit notes, plus a whiff of cannabis. Savory flavor kicks in on the palate, with hints of sage and rosemary.
12. Copain ‘Les Voisins’ Syrah Yorkville Highlands 2015 ($34)
Restrained and balanced, this is California Syrah at its finest. Made using grapes from three different vineyards in Mendocino County’s Yorkville Highlands, this wine has scents of bold blackberries, tart plums, and just a sprinkling of baking spices. The aromas carry through to the palate, which is medium-bodied with firm, well-rounded tannins. Pair with lamb or any other grilled red meat.
11. Laurent-Perrier ‘Grand Siècle’ No. 24 ($140)
Laurent-Perrier makes its prestige cuvée, Grand Siècle, using a blend of three wines produced exclusively from grand cru vineyards in vintage-quality years. Each release comprises a different blend, distinguished by an “Iteration” number displayed on the bottle’s label. Number 24, the current release, has a lively, complex bouquet of green apples, dried white flowers, orange zest, and flint. Its palate is concentrated and vibrant, with a strong fruit core. This is an expressive, age-worthy Champagne and offers great value compared to the prices of other prestige cuvées.
10. Jermann Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT 2017 ($23)
Seldom do we think of Pinot Grigio as a variety that can offer depth and character, but Jermann proves this is absolutely the case. From Friuli-Venezia Giulia in northeastern Italy, this wine is aromatic, elegant, and texturally intriguing. It starts with aromas of flowers and citrus fruit, before stone fruit and mineral notes emerge. The wine has a broad mouthfeel that’s lifted by energetic acidity and textured by chalky minerality. While it’s more expensive than many wines made using this variety, this is absolutely not your average Pinot Grigio.
9. Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley Merlot 2014 ($36)
Long Meadow Ranch farms 90 acres of organic vineyards in the heart of Napa Valley. Though better known for its Cabernet Sauvignon wines, the estate’s 2014 Merlot was the bottle that really grabbed our attention. From one of the warmest and driest vintages on record, this Merlot is big, bold, and balanced with acidity and tannins for long-term aging. At present, it has pronounced cherry tree aromas (fruit, leaf, and bark) and hints of vanilla and plums that continue onto its silky palate. The definition of a fine wine, this bottle promises to get better still with age.
8. Graci Etna Rosato 2018 ($21)
This Sicilian rosato (in French, rosé) is made from Nerello Mascalese, a dark-skinned red variety commonly grown in the volcanic soils of Mount Etna. Graci transforms those grapes into an attractive copper-colored rosé via gentle pressing, avoiding maceration. It then ferments the must in large concrete tanks. What emerges is a perfectly balanced rosé that serves equal parts fruit character, acid, and tannins. The concentration of flavors and aromas is intense, while the wine’s mouthfeel is soft, smooth, and even slightly creamy. Forget Provence, Etna rosé is where it’s at.
7. Château Fonplégade Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé 2012 ($46)
Founded in 1852, Château Fonplégade is located on Bordeaux’s Right Bank, on the southern hillside of Saint-Émilion. The property’s name translates to “fountain of plenty” and derives from a 13th-century stone fountain situated on one of the estate’s vineyards. Grand Cru Classé, the property’s flagship wine, is a soulful Merlot-dominant blend that also contains a seasoning of Cabernet Franc. Prior to bottling, the wine spends 20 months aging, with 85 percent of the blend resting in new French oak, and 15 percent in concrete eggs. Pouring an intense dark ruby, the wine’s aromas are reminiscent of cranberry sauce and cherry compote, while bottle age has added earthy notes of leather and tobacco leaf. It’s plush and velvety on the palate, and serves a long-lasting finish.
6. Ridgeview Cavendish Brut NV ($43)
While winemakers around the world strain to adapt to warming climes, a handful of regions are currently reaping its benefits. Among the most notable is southern England, whose high-quality sparkling wine industry continues to garner international attention. Ridegview, one of the frontrunners of the movement, founded in 1995, has spent the last two decades producing sparkling wines using the same grapes and techniques as Champagne. Pinot Noir drives the estate’s Cavendish blend, which whiffs of cherries and sweet pastry and lands a structured, mineral-rich mousse on the palate. Perfect for parties and food pairings, next time you’re in the mood for bubbles or life calls for celebrations, take this bottle over your go-to Champagne.
5. G.D. Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo 2017 ($22)
Piedmont is the home of the Nebbiolo grape, which famously stars in the fabled wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. For much more affordable expressions of the variety, and wines that are approachable in their youth (read: ready to drink ASAP), drinkers should look to the Langhe hills and bottles such as this from G.D. Vajra. This wine serves a fruit-forward expression of Nebbiolo, with concentrated sour cherry notes that are pleasurably disrupted by a vibrant acidity on the palate. The acidity stops the wine’s heavy fruit character from overwhelming the palate, while a rigid but approachable tannic structure holds everything together. The beauty of this wine is its youth, and for this price, you can afford to serve it on the midweek dinner table.
4. Barboursville Vineyards Reserve Viognier 2017 ($22)
If you have yet to try Viognier or are looking to take a dive into the wines of Virginia, start here. Founded by Virginia Governor James Barbour in 1814, and purchased by Italy’s Zonin family (of Prosecco fame) in 1976, Barboursville Vineyards provides compelling evidence of Virginia’s potential as a world-class winemaking region. With this release, the estate also cements the notion that Viognier should be Virginia’s signature white variety. This wine is an excellent example of its aromatic grace and the balance Viognier can display. Its nose is rich in mineral notes, apricot, and orange blossom, while the low-alcohol palate shows great acidity and luxurious viscosity.
3. Mastroberardino ‘Radici’ Taurasi DOCG 2014 ($54)
The Mastroberardino family’s contribution to preserving the legacy of quality winemaking in Italy’s Campania region cannot be overstated. With local vineyards ravaged by phylloxera and World War II, many farmers understandably decided to rip out indigenous vines and replace them with higher-yielding varieties. Not the Mastroberardinos, who stayed true to the region and, in turn, saved such native varieties as Greco, Fiano, and Aglianico from almost certain extinction. The latter of the three is showcased in the Radici Taurasi DOCG, Mastroberardino’s flagship wine. Hugely age-worthy, and released following already-considerable periods in oak and bottle, this wine is the standard-bearer for Aglianico. It’s one of the finest examples of balance you will come across and sets the bar for both the variety and region.
2. Comando G ‘La Bruja de Rozas’ Sierra de Gredos 2017 ($25)
Made from Garnacha grapes grown on high-altitude old vines in Spain’s Sierra de Gredos region, this wine’s aromas include dark cherries, cranberries, earth, pepper, raw meat, and star anise — to name just a few. The palate starts light, before the grape’s intense fruit character kicks in. And it’s not over there. Mouthwatering acidity and grippy, complex tannins quickly present themselves, prolonging the fiesta taking place in your mouth. If there’s a better wine being made at this price point in Spain or anywhere else in the world right now, we’ll be damned. La Bruja de Rozas will grab your senses with its depth of aromas and flavors and never let go, then leave you dazed knowing that you have tasted something truly special.
1. Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay 2016 ($50)
Though its history stretches back to the late 19th century, Chateau Montelena is best known for the success of its Napa Valley Chardonnay during the now-legendary 1976 Judgement of Paris blind tasting. Deemed by a group of (mainly) French judges to be the best Chardonnay of 10 bottles from California and Burgundy, the victory signified a coming-of-age for America’s wine industry, helping place Napa Valley on the map of the world’s finest wine regions. Produced on the 40th anniversary of that historic event, Chateau Montelena’s 2016 Napa Valley Chardonnay shows that the estate is continuing to operate at the highest level. It offers a blueprint for what oaked American Chardonnay should taste like — beyond butter. Instead, elegance and power shine through in the grape’s mineral-driven flavors of fresh melon, apple, and honeysuckle. Meanwhile, careful and considered oak aging provides nutmeg notes and a soft, creamy texture. Buy this wine and raise a glass to the past, present, and future of Napa winemaking.
The Best Champagnes for Under $20
Champagne is one of the best drinks for celebrations, parties, and get-togethers because of its versatility—it can be used in mimosas or for champagne toasts, and for casual brunches and fancy events. Luckily, there are actually plenty of varieties out there that don't cost as much as a bottle of Dom Perignon but still have the crisp, bubbly, and refreshing elements that make you want to pour another glass. Trust us: cheap champagne can taste just as good.
So which bottles should you buy for your next party? Well, it's important to keep in mind a few things when shopping around. Brut champagnes, for example, are very dry with no sweetness, while cava is a type of sparkling wine from Spain and is produced from Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo grapes, and it can be dry or sweet. Prosecco is produced in Italy exclusively from Glera grapes, and, unlike regular champagne, is fermented a second time in a steel tank rather than the bottle. In case you can't tell, champagne has many components to it!
To help you find the best bottle of bubbly that won't break the bank, we rounded up the best champagne options you can pick up practically anywhere that sells wine and will cost less than $20. The wines were chosen based on price, ratings, and availability. These cheap picks are great for stocking up on for holiday parties, hostess gifts, New Year's Eve toasts, and other celebratory occasions.
Now, here are the 15 best cheap bottles of champagne you can buy.