Now that we’re all spending a lot more time at home, it’s the perfect opportunity to stock up on low-cost, high-quality wines for everyday enjoyment. In our experience, a glass of wine (or two) can help take the edge off of our current predicament (bonus points for rounding up friends online to taste with you, or to play these virtual happy hour games).
With a seemingly limitless selection of bottles available from online shops, you can explore regions and wine styles easier than ever, snatching up some of the special values we’ve tasted and rated. Below, you’ll find the 20 best affordable wines that VinePair has reviewed in the past six months.
These wines all scored a ‘B’ or higher in our reviews, and all have an average retail price under $20. (As a bonus, we’ve included two exceptions that just missed the price cutoff, but are too good not to mention.)
Here are the 20 best cheap wines you can get right now:
If your heart says Champagne but your budget says otherwise, look no further. This is one of the best American sparkling wines and you can pick it up for less than $20 a bottle. Made using the same technique as Champagne (secondary fermentation takes place in-bottle), the wine then spends two years on lees gaining complexity, delicious aromas and flavors, and a creamy mouthfeel. This is outstanding sparkling wine that you can afford to drink on any night of the week.
This wine is a damn joy to drink. It’s an old school blend with all indigenous grapes from the region, and so balanced I feel like I’m in Chianti when sipping it. You will love the cherry and cranberry burst on the nose, along with the floral aroma of rose petals. The palate is bright and juicy and makes you want to sip paired with a sunset. It’s under $20 and worth a spot in your everyday lineup. What a wonderful wine.
Bringing Cabernet Franc into this blend does wonders for the wine. It brightens up the Cabernet Sauvignon and adds a juiciness to the Merlot. The nose benefits as well, showing cherry notes and some fresh turned soil, giving it a nice earthy depth while not weighing you down. This is the perfect wine to have on a pasta night with family or friends or bring to a dinner party. Everyone will dig it.
This wine is ridiculously good for under $20. It’s crisp and refreshing while having great depth. There’s no oak, so you get the full Russian River personality without the wooded distraction. It has a great grip on the palate, and feels nice and broad. I want to bring this to the next cookout and wash it down with some grilled chicken and butter-laden corn on the cob… damn.
This wine is only available on their website — which also promotes their bags of vine cuttings that can be used for grilling — and the Chardonnay is damn good. It has depth and structure to jive with whatever you’re grilling — though chicken and veggies would pair best — and enough acidity so it won’t weigh you down on a nice, sunny cookout day. It’s crisp and soft with subtle aromas that will complement the char.
You just can’t go wrong here. The wine is $10 and solid. It has nice medium fruit and not a ton of oak. The acidity is right, making it not too heavy. Yo, I’m thinking you should get a case of this wine to have laying around for spontaneity or to pull from when you’re on your way to a cookout, a casual dinner party, or even game night with pizza. It’s a legit go-to definitely.
Dry as a bone and aromatic for days defines this wine. The nose makes you think of sweet orange blossoms and honey citrus. The palate is like the aroma of a wet stone, and the acidity is wild and crazy. All this makes for a delicious seafood wine. I mean any seafood. Anything from the sea. All of it. It’s under $20 and will give your palate something new to get into.
This is a great, clean, and crisp wine with a good grip on the palate. It has a nose that smells like nectarines and watermelons, and a dry palate that begs for a picnic. For a bottle from New Zealand to be under $20 is a big deal, and the quality is so there.
This wine was made for the cookout, for the BBQ, for that fire pit brisket. It was made for the family secret sauce you slather on any protein on a sunny day. It has deep, dark, concentrated fruit, good integrated tannin, and enough acidity that it won’t weigh you down too much. And it’s under $20 for the win.
This is a hell of a deal. It’s less than $20 and solid AF. It’s full-bodied, but soft and peppery, with comfy earthy smells that will remind you of wild blackberries and a forest in October. The palate is smooth and the drying tannins are not even perceptible. Wine at this price shouldn’t be this complex, but here we are. Bring this to ANYTHING. I mean, name it. BBQ, Netflix pajama jammy jam, pizza party, burger party, pool party, wine and cheese night. Like, anything. It’s also a crowd pleaser.
At under $20 this is a great way to branch out and enjoy a wine from a grape you may have not been introduced to yet. Perricone is all about those Pinot Noir and Sangiovese vibes. It has ripe earthy fruit with vibrant acidity that makes that fruit pop. The mouthfeel is calm with smooth medium tannins balancing the wine nicely. With the price being awesome, buy a few bottles for your next pasta and gravy dinner party.
This wine is as intense in aroma as any other Chardonnay in Cali with toasted oaky vanilla stuff and some butterscotch. But what sets it apart is the bracing acidity cleaning up the wine, not letting those intense aromas weigh you down. Also, it’s only 13.6 percent alcohol, which is glorious. It still has that classic big ol’ butter thing going on, but it’s much more approachable.
This bottle is solid. It has all the stuff you like about Pinot Noir in a $10 bottle. It’s fruity, tart, and smells like cherries. It’s soft and chewy on the palate and pairs with poolside parties, picnics, and game nights. If you see it on the shelf on the way to the pizza party it will most definitely jive with a pie.
Pull out the salad bowl, get to the farmer’s market before they close, load up on the veggies, and get on that group text. This is a wine for spontaneous occasions to please a crowd. It’s under screw cap, $13, and easy drinking. It has crazy, vibrant acidity and some depth for the char on that zucchini.
If you like the petroleum vibe in Riesling, this wine is for you. It’s the dominating aroma. There might be more going on but the petrol takes over everything. The palate is sweet, with high acid, so as a BYOB for a spicy menu it’s a good crowd pleaser.
If you dig oaky Chardonnay, but want to branch out, this native grape from Sicily will make you swoon. It has a balanced oaky nose that smells like honey, toasty vanilla, and bananas, along with a grippy palate. The mouthfeel is also tight and broad, making this a great wine for a get-together with close friends with some nibbles and good convo.
The alcohol is way too high and the oak is slathered on, but dammit I like this wine. It’s the kind of crowd-pleasing wine you bring to a family event that everyone will enjoy and can pair with a wide range of dishes. If you are looking for the soft subtly of this grape, you won’t find it here, but if you’re looking to appease a broad range of palate preferences this wine will be a winner.
The Gewürztraminer calms the intensity of the Riesling, but the acidity is too high. The palate flattens out a bit, but something is off here. This wine would only serve you well as palate cleanser for a spicy menu BYOB if you’re in need of a last-minute bottle.
These wines were just over the $20 threshold but made our Top 50 Wines of 2019, so we wanted to share them!
You need to taste this wine. This is one of the best expressions of old vine Garnacha from Spain. If you like Pinot Noir you are going ape shit for this bottle. It has the bright fruit you love while maintaining a significant tannin structure that holds all the elements together. There’s a rustic edge and an elegant bent and will make your palate sing. Actually you will probably start singing.
If you’ve heard about the wonders of Barolo but want to see what all the fuss is about before spending some serious cash, seek out this bottle. It’s made using the same grape variety (Nebbiolo), but arrives in a much more youthful, approachable, and affordable guise. Its aromas include concentrated sour cherry and hints of violets and plums. The palate has vibrant acidity and rigid, well-incorporated tannins. At this price, you can serve it on the midweek dinner table, where it will pair wonderfully with lean red meat.
Published: April 3, 2020