Delicious wine doesn’t have to be inaccessible. Yes, great wines can cost a pretty penny, but many producers and wine shops today are keeping an eye on the price range they stock by offering at least a handful of wines at relatively attainable prices.
The key to finding these wines can be as simple as asking the right questions. When visiting your local wine shop, be forward about your budget, as owners typically have great bottles to recommend at most price points. Here’s what wine pros from around the country recommend for the next time you’re seeking a delicious wine that costs $20 and under:
“I’m crushing on Craig Haarmeyer’s Chenin right now. These grapes are from Sacramento, Sutter Ranch. The wine consists of four vintages of Chenin blended together from 2016-2020, including a barrel from their sous voile, so a touch oxidative, but super bright, high acid, with a hint of salinity on the finish. It’s $19 on my shelf! I really enjoy this wine because it’s citrusy and bright. You get that touch of salt and can’t not keep drinking it.” —Sipha Lam, owner of Wilder Wines in Burlington, Vt.
“This well-balanced white from Fausto and Cinzia Cellario is made with organically grown Favorita, a native varietal from Piedmont that is a relative of Vermentino. This sunny yellow wine has an aromatic bouquet that belies its freshness on the palate. It’s a perfect afternoon sipper! Plus, we love supporting these winemakers, who are fierce champions of indigenous Piedmont varietals and traditional farming and winemaking practices (don’t sleep on their Dolcetto or Grignolino, either!)” —Cecily Upton, co-owner of Friends and Family in Portland, Maine
“We’re in love with this richer-side-of-the-moon Vinho Verde called Azahar from Gota Wines. Great name, beautiful label. The cepage, or wine variety, is different this year. It’s more electric and light on its feet due to the greater dominance of the high-acid Loureiro. Lots of floral, lots of citrus — really beautiful and refreshing, but deep at the same time due to the lees aging in concrete. Very flexible with most of the food we eat today, and all in all an amazing wine. Portugal remains a great place to look for real bargains.” —Jed Boyar, wine buyer at Dandelion Wine in Brooklyn
“I’ve always had an affinity for wines from Sardinia and specifically the wines from Cardedu. For the ‘Bucce’ bottling, Sergio Loi takes Vermentino and Nasco and leaves them on the skins for two days while direct pressing the Cannonau. The result is this beautifully floral, salty, fresh wine that reminds me all skin-contact wines are not made the same. It’s such an expressive and exciting wine that its $20 price point feels like stealing. Give me this and a Vongole pizza and I’d never ask for anything again.” —Eric Moorer, director of sales at Domestique Wine in Washington, D.C.
“Marc Castan of Domaine Mamaruta is a winemaker in La Palme, a small village in Languedoc-Roussillon. He’s got a light touch, a passion for biodynamic farming, and shaggy highland cows! Kezako is 100 percent Carignan. With bright red fruits and a dash of cinnamon on the nose, this wine is lively and refreshing. It sings with pomegranate, raspberries, and a touch of herbal cherry lozenge. It’s got the slightest bit of effervescence, medium tannins, and acid that’ll make you want to drink the whole bottle. I love this wine for its versatility — it’s the perfect food wine, pairing well with anything from paneer tikka masala to pepperoni pizza. Kezako is unpretentious, delicate, and completely delicious. And you gotta love the little naked guy on the bottle!” —V. Batyko, wine buyer at Good Luck Wine Shop in Pasadena, Calif.
“This wine is unmistakably Muscadet, but has an accentuated roundness to it to balance out the classic salinity and bright acids. An excellent choice with oysters, of course, but can be enjoyed alone or with other seafood. There is something particularly endearing about this cuvée’s ability to conjure up a feeling of sitting by the sea; a real treat of a wine.” —Chandler Sowden, owner of In A Silent Way in Wiscasset, Maine
“Our go-to always is Les Hérétiques by Chateau d’Oupia. It’s around $15, and most of the time, we’ll have it in stock year-round. It’s hard to find something chuggable in that price range, but thanks to its carbonic maceration, it checks our boxes.” —James Havens, owner at The Heights Grocer in Houston
“Whether it be the popularization of Rhône Varietals in California, the use of screw caps on premium wines, or transparency in ingredient labeling, Bonny Doon has been at the forefront of progression and innovation in American wine. It is no surprise that they have led the way in offering affordable, biodynamic, minimal-intervention wines like the Vin Gris de Cigare. The rosé is brilliantly blended with six Rhône varietals and undergoes extended contact with the lees. Subtle flavors of rose petal and blackcurrant with hints of toast and cream make this wine sophisticated beyond its $19 price point. Logic aside, it also has a UFO on the label and an alien on the screw top, which in my opinion is enough reason to pick some up!” —Jake Raymond, co-owner of US Natural Wine
Responses have been edited for clarity and length