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What to Drink Now: 21 Wines for Under $20

Some trusted and affordable options.
By Hayley Hamilton Cogill |

Looking for affordable wines that deliver great taste? Here are 21 varieties for under $20. (Some selections sent for editorial consideration.)

Drinking the citrus, white flower filled Sauvignon Blanc from Bodega Garzon is refreshing. Rocky, well-drained and mineral-rich soils enhance the wine, giving it an earthy structure. ($16.50 at Spec’s.) Alamos Torrontes is a lively white, filled with wildflower aromas, vibrant acidity and freshness. ($10 at Spec’s.)

Caricature, Wente Morning Fog, Tall Sage, Ava Grace and Josh Cellars are Chardonnay options that offer consistency, with classic orchard fruit and ripe citrus profiles. Each $10-$15. Meiomi recently added Chardonnay to their portfolio, with fruit from Sonoma, Monterey, and Santa Barbara, creating a tropical, butterscotch filled wine. ($15 at Total Wines.)

Verdejo vines in Rueda, photo by Hayley Hamilton Cogill
Verdejo vines in Rueda. Photo by Hayley Cogill.

The rocky Rueda region of Spain, northwest of Madrid, specializes in herbal, fresh fennel, and mineral rich Verdejo, from stellar wineries like Belondrade and Beronia. Total Wine has a nice selection of Rueda, for under $15, including Nisia Old Vine Rueda ($14.50) and Palma Real Rueda ($12).

Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Merlot ($17) is lush and concentrated with plum, violet, and milk chocolate. g3 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15) from Columbia Valley layers black fruit, licorice, and savory balsamic notes. Columbia Winery just relaunched their look, reflecting the cool Washington terroir around the Woodinville winery. Lucky for us, the wines inside the bottle, like their floral, red fruit filled Merlot ($15) remains consistently delicious. From Paso Robles, J Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon ($17) highlights currant, fig, and baking spice in their easy-drinking Cabernet. (All available at Total Wine.)

Concannon Vineyard is the oldest ongoing U.S. winery under the same family brand and stewardship. Petit Sirah is their legacy. ($10 at Spec’s.)

Esporao Vineyards, photo by Hayley Hamilton Cogill
Esporao Vineyards, photo by Hayley Cogill

Portugal’s Esporao highlights the rustic earthiness of hot Alentejo region summers in their Alandra Red ($10 at Spec’s). From the Douro region, Dow’s Vale Do Bomfim refines traditional Port varieties for a peppery, leathery, and dry wine. Both pair well with hearty meat dishes. ($13 at Total Wine.)

When it comes to taste and affordability, Italian reds deliver. That is if you know where to look. From Puglia to Veneto, affordable wines shine. Puglia’s Li Veli “Passamante” Salice Salentino DOC ($13) delivers red fruit and toasted spice. From Veneto, Tenuta Sant’ Antonio created Scaia specializing in the varieties of Valpolicella. Scaia Corvina ($12) is filled with sour cherry and wild berry. (Available at Jimmy’s Food Store.)

Chianti Classico, photo by Hayley Hamilton Cogill
Chianti Classico, photo by Hayley Cogill

Castello di Gabbiano reveals blackberry and earthy tobacco in their Chianti Classico ($11), however, their Chianti Classico Riserva, with additional barrel and bottle aging, proves why Sangiovese has been celebrated in Tuscany for generations. It delivers a delicious, food-friendly red. ($20 at Total Wine.)

Jammy Zinfandel is perfect Texas barbecue wine. It cuts through the richness of slow-cooked meat. Peppery Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel ($10) and Cigar Old Vine Zinfandel ($14) are both solid wines for the price. (Available at Total Wine.)

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