I am always on the lookout for an affordable wine that drinks like a $100 bottle. Each of these selections delivers just that, all for $25 or less—many for under $18. (Some bottles were sent for editorial consideration.)
One of the prettiest Rosé wines I’ve recently enjoyed is Olema Rosé ($16, Total Wine) highlighting the beauty of wines from Provence with wild herbs, tangerine, and stone fruit. Watermelon, and strawberry-filled Ponzi Pinot Noir Rosé ($23, available here) from Willamette Valley, is the ideal wine to sip as summer transitions into fall.
South Africa’s Protea Rosé ($18, at Central Market), blends sun-loving Mourvedre with Shiraz, Cinsault, and Grenache for a luscious wine. Fragrant lilac, golden apple, and peach shine in the Rosé from Justin Winery’s ($20, available here.) Sanford Pinot Noir Rose ($24, Total Wine) from Santa Rita Hills highlights floral orange blossom, honeysuckle, and strawberry.
Highly affordable Salinas Valley, Monterey Ranch 32 Pinot Noir completely delivers for the price. The red berry, pomegranate, and spice filled wine retails for just $17. Edna Valley Central Coast Pinot Noir ($17) is also a great value, layering black fruit, wild rose, and baking spice.
Willamette Valley’s Beacon Hill Winery Liberty Pinot Noir ($20, Central Market) reveals ripe blackberry, licorice, and mushroom. Portlandia Pinot Noir ($20, Wine.com) adds a bit of Rouge Valley fruit to their Willamette Valley-based blend, bringing black plum to the earthy, cherry-filled, approachable wine.
Olema Pinot Noir ($20) layers wild strawberry and black truffle, with soft tannins and balanced acidity to keep the wine light and lively. MacMurray Estate Central Coast Pinot Noir ($16) from limestone and clay-filled soils in Santa Lucia Highland’s Olson Estate Vineyard creates a wine with raspberry, soft herbs, and earthy minerality. Carmel Road Monterey Pinot Noir ($15) is slightly heartier, with black tea, red fruit, and toasted spice. (All at Total Wine.)
When searching for inexpensive options, Italy often delivers incredible wines at affordable prices. From the Tuscany’s Chianti region, Castello del Trebbio Chianti Superiore DOCG ($15, wine.com) layers woody thyme, wild blackberry, and spice. Similarly, Coltibuono Selezione RS Chianti Classico DOCG ($15, Jimmy’s) is fresh, and easy, with a fruit-forward palate finishing with dusty earthiness.
From Montepulciano, full-bodied, yet subtle Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano DOCG ($15, wine.com) melds fresh blueberry, black cherry, and spice. Sister winery Lohsa Morellino di Scansano DOCG ($14) highlights wild herbal and salty mineral notes of Sangiovese grown in coastal Maremma influenced by the Tyrrhenian Sea.
In Piedmont’s hilly Asti region Barbera thrives, producing expressive raspberry filled wine with acidity, and finesse, as displayed in Renato Ratti Barbera d’Asti DOCG ($20, Pogo’s).
Across the country, in Veneto, Amarone is produced in the traditional appassimento process, leaving small amounts of hand-picked fruit on racks to dry, intensifying the flavor. Incorporating the traditional Valpolicella varieties used for Amarone, as well as freshly picked and fermented fruit, Allegrini Pallazzo della Torre IGT ($23, Central Market) is a steal for the quality and character of the wine, showcasing fresh blackberry, dried blueberry, pepper, and spice.
For Cabernet Sauvignon fans, Alexander Valley’s Edge Cabernet Sauvignon ($25, Pogo’s) leaps from the glass with blackcurrant, cassis, leather, and espresso.l An incredible bargain for the quality.
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($18, Total Wine) is dynamic with red cherry, toasted vanilla, and chocolate. Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon ($22, Pogo’s) melds toasted hazelnut, black licorice, and blackberry for a powerful selection.
Lodi shines in Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon ($23, Pogo’s) showcasing blackberry, chocolate, and anise. Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon ($11, Total Wine) balances cassis fruit with woody herb and dried tobacco, inherent to Chile’s famed Colchagua Valley.
From Portugal’s Duoro region, Esporao Quinta dos Murcas ‘Assobio’ blends classic varieties typically used for Port for a dry, juicy red and black fruit filled wine that consistently over-delivers for its inexpensive price. ($13, Goody-Goody.)
Fruit-forward, peppery, Chronic Cellars “Purple Paradise” ($12, Total Wine) embodies the approach of winemakers/brothers Josh and Jake Beckett to not take themselves too seriously, while making easy-to-drink wines.