Whether it’s an underrated region or surprise bottling, great value wines are everywhere — provided you know where to look. We asked 13 sommeliers and restaurant professionals across the country: What’s your go-to bargain bottle?
“I have two to share that are both under $20: La Rioja Alta Alberdi Reserva 2012 is made at one of the great old estates of Rioja and has consistently produced high-quality classic Rioja wines. When you consider the winery’s history, reputation, and strict production methods, their Alberdi Reserva priced under $20 is a really great value. Oddero Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2015 is known for being a straightforward, drinkable, juicy red, with low tannins. When you find a good bottle, it always imparts depth and layers of flavor. 2015 was a particularly good year for Barbera and with the additional aging as a superiore, this bottle is offered at an excellent value.”— Karen Lin, General Manager and Beverage Director, Bar Moga and SakaMai, NYC
“I feel like if I’m looking for a bargain, it’s usually a situation when multiple bottles are going to be consumed — a dinner party, at the beach, BBQ-ing, etc. What’s more perfect and versatile than rosé? Currently loving Coupe Roses Minervois ‘Frémillant’ 2017 from the Languedoc. ‘Frémillant’ is an old Occitane word for light-red wine. Darker than your traditional southern French rosé, it is a perfect accompaniment for late-winter and early spring foods.” — Alex Zink, Beverage Director and Partner, The Dabney, Washington D.C.
“During the early chaat and wine pairing days for Indian Paradox, I chanced upon this Beaujolais made by Domaine de Collete. It is a brilliant wine for under $10, absolutely great value for money. … Any wine that can be consumed with the right food or just by itself without costing an arm and a leg is great wine, like this one. Added bonus: This works perfectly with so many Indian dishes with yogurt!” — Kavitha Raghavan, Indian Paradox, San Francisco
“My go-to bargain is actually a country. I like to go to Trader Joe’s by work and get Portuguese or Spanish wine. I like a bargain Vinho Verde and or a Monastrell. I like to mix up my bargain buys. — Alvaro Umano, Beverage Director, O-Ku DC, Washington D.C.
“After traveling to South America, I have concluded that almost everything has great value-to-quality ratio. One of my favorite wines was Bodega del Rio Elorza ‘Verum’ Pinot Noir from Patagonia. Another was Puramun Chardonnay — was extremely elegant and reminded me of high-quality, Old World Chardonnay!” — Cassie Sakai, Goat Group Wine Director (Girl & the Goat, Duck Duck Goat, Little Goat), Chicago
“My go-to bargain bottle has been, for many years, Karl Fritsch’s Grüner Veltliner ‘Steinberg’ from Austria’s Wagram region. Year after year his entry-level bottling is a steal for classic Grüner Veltliner. You would be hard-pressed to find a biodynamic wine of this quality and frankly quaffability. … This particular wine really shows off the peppery side of the grape with classic notes of tobacco, fresh Granny Smith apples, and my favorite sensation from GV grown on the Wagram’s famous Loess soil: salted caramel.” — Jeremy Halker, Sommelier, DBGB DC, Washington, D.C.
“White: Franz Etz’s Grüner Veltliner retails for under $16 for a liter, and every vintage continues to delight and impress. Red: Paolo Scavino’s Vino Rosso. It’s consistent, expressive, and palate-pleasing for all.” — Paulina Schermanski, Sommelier, Mabel Gray, Hazel Park, Mich.
“Le Ragose Valpolicella Superiore Classico Ripasso is a fantastic red wine from Le Ragose cellar; each bottle costs between $15 to $20. This is the perfect bargain wine to pair with salame and little bit of cheese.” — Pietro Caldarelli, Beverage Director/Certified Sommelier, Feroce Ristorante , Feroce Caffé, and Bar Feroce, NYC
“R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Gravonia. I love its richness and complexity, and that the estate releases their wines after a substantial time of aging in their cellars. It’s one of my favorite wines to bring to a party because it’s relatively inexpensive and often something unexpected in the mix.” — Anncherie Saludo, Beverage Director, L’Artusi, NYC
“My go-to bargain bottle has always been German Pinot Noir (often labeled as Spaetbergunder). It can almost always be found on a retail shelf for under $20 and really overdelivered for the price. Koehler Ruprecht is a great one to look out for the next time you’re at your local bottle shop.” — Jake Yestingsmeier, Director of Food & Beverage, Monarch Prime & Bar, Omaha, Neb.
“My go-to bargain bottle would definitely would be Nals Margreid Galea Schiava or Francois Montand sparkling rosé.” — Andrew Manning, Chef (and wine list creator), Longoven, Richmond, Calif.
“Mionetto Prosecco is my go-to. It’s great by the glass or in a cocktail, and is very affordable, around $10.” — George Duval, Beverage Consultant, Open Bar Hospitality, DeKalb Market Hall, Brooklyn
“When looking for quality value wines, I always find myself in the Spanish section of the wine store. At around $18 a bottle, Bodegas Pinuaga 200 Cepas always delivers incredible quality for its price point. Made from 100 percent Cencibel, a native Tempranillo clone in the region. This wine does an incredible job of showcasing balance between the fruit, acidity, and structure of the grape.” — Alisandro Serna, Wine Director, Boka, Chicago