Even as we climb out of a recession (or maybe especially because we’re currently climbing out from a recession), wine lovers need not be denied. Whether your preference is red, white or blush, if you’re on a tight budget, you can still find flavorful, awesome wines that will not break the bank. All of the following wines are under $20 a bottle and represent wineries from around the world. Although the bottles vary in size, these wines are perfect for both wine connoisseurs and wine novices who are searching for a moderately priced wine with flavor. Pick up one of these affordable wines for your next dinner party or get-together.
1. 2007 Foxglove Zinfandel
In this unique red wine, Zinfandel grapes are combined with 14 percent Petite Sirah to create a red wine with a wild berry fruit flavor and a bit of a tang. Foxglove Zinfandel originates from California’s Paso Robles region and is actually a second label of the more famous Varner Wine. This is a popular California Zinfandel that was rated 90 points by Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. You can purchase it for just $13.99 per 750 ml bottle!
2. Barefoot Chardonnay, 2007
This medium-bodied Chardonnay from Barefoot Cellars of Modesto, California is a favorite of both casual drinkers and wine lovers everywhere. Often recommended by liquor store owners, Barefoot Chardonnay is golden and smooth, with a vanilla aroma. The winner of the Silver Medal, 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, this chardonnay has a light and fresh finish. Best of all, it costs just $10.99 for a 1.5 liter bottle.
3. Punto Final Malbec Reserva 2007
Created from grapes from the Agrelo and La Consulta regions of Argentina, this wine blends 99 percent Malbec and 1 percent Cabernet Franc, creating a red, fruity, toasty oak scent. The deep red color of this strong red wine belies its flavors of plum, licorice and fig. Wine Spectator rated Punto Final Malbec Reserva 91 points. Pick up a bottle for just $12.98 per 750 ml bottle.
4. Searidge Chenin Blanc 2009
Red apple and ripe cantaloupe flavors create one of the sweetest Chenin Blancs on the market, and one of the most drinkable by all levels of wine drinkers. Another oft-recommended white wine, this California Chenin Blanc combines fresh fruit and delicate floral aromas with firm, crisp, natural acidity. It sells for just $5.95 per 750 ml. bottle.
5. Bodegas Sierra Salinas Mira 2005
This dark, dense red is made in Rioja, Spain, at the base of the Sierra Salinas mountains. The 65 percent Monastrell, 25 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 10 percent Garnacha Tintorera blends dark blackberry fruits with smoky flavors to create a sweet yet slightly acidic red wine. The Wine Advocate by Robert Parker rated it 93 points. You can purchase a bottle for $18.99 for a 750 ml bottle.
6. Walnut Crest White Zinfandel 2009
Ever had one of those wines that you taste once and can’t forget? This is the one. White zinfandel lovers will fall in love with Chilean Walnut Crest’s White Zinfandel. It’s a robust, hearty white zinfandel that isn’t overpowering nor bland or weak. Although the wine can be extremely difficult to find, it does sell for $10.97 for a 750 ml bottle at some online retailers (when it’s not sold out, that is!)
7. Kangarilla Road Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
Australia’s McLaren Vale area produces this Cabernet Sauvignon, which is full-bodied with a dark berry, earthy scent. The taste is rich, dark and fruity with dark chocolate overtones. Wine Enthusiast rated this Cabernet 90 points. You can buy a 750 ml bottle for $14.99 when you’re lucky enough to find it on sale.
8. Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc, 2005
Don’t laugh: this wine is a Sutter Home, but it actually is distinctive! From the California winery comes this Sauvignon Blanc that is extremely drinkable yet flavorful. Its ripe citrus flavors are light and zesty, making it pair well with fish or poultry. Of course, most wine drinkers, casual or otherwise, purchase Sutter Home wines for the price, and this one doesn’t disappoint in that area either: $4.99 for a 750 ml. bottle! Not bad for a cheap white!
9. Finca Allende 2004
From Rioja, Spain, the Finca Allende is a 100 percent Tempranillo cuvee dark purple wine. It has an aroma of violets, cranberry, blueberry and mineral, with a fruity tannin taste. It is rated 92 points by Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. It will cost you $19.99 for a 750 ml bottle, however.
10. First Cape Limited Release Pinot Grigio, 2009
This South African wine is a real surprise, from a region not traditionally known for great wineries (but contemporary wine drinkers are discovering them!) This delicately fruity Pinot Grigio from South Africa’s Western Cape tastes subtly different from its Italian cousins. Ripe pear and green apple scents are followed by citrus fruit and white peach flavors to create an enticing white wine. You can purchase this unique Pinot Grigio for $9.61 per 750 ml bottle.