What the $10 bottle of wine will save you in dollars, it might cost you in anxiety. Whether you’re using just a splash for dinner or if you’re just operating with a tighter budget, you still want a wine that is satisfying and enjoyable. To help sort out any anxieties over affordable bottles, VinePair spoke with Duey Kratzer, the owner of Mondo Vino Wine and Spirits in Denver.
Given that it’s likely that the more widely produced grapes or brands will be of lesser quality at that price point, this budget is a great way to move away from your comfort zone. Some may automatically go for “tried and true” grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, but the quality of these wines often doesn’t hold up as well under $10. “The first thing is to look at the label,” says Kratzer. “Look for something that isn’t from any of the mainstream brands or wineries— you can find some really fun stuff. There are some cool wines from countries like Lebanon and Georgia that are using ancient varieties with interesting qualities all around that price point.”
For cooking or easy sipping, Kratzer notes that Italian varieties are better as affordable staples, specifically grapes like Nero d’Avola, Barbera, and Dolcetto. For both red and white wines, Kratzer says to stick to styles that have a bit more structure and body to them, because bottles that are lighter and more affordable tend to be more alcoholic and less flavorful. For example, when you’re sizzling up some seafood, reach for a mineral-driven Muscadet rather than a crisp Pinot Grigio.
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If your budget is tight because you’re going to drink many wines in one sitting, Kratzer says stocking up on more affordable bottles is a great way to keep the good times rolling — so long as you’re thoughtful with what you bring to the table.