Who says drinking delicious wine has to be expensive? Contrary to popular belief, a plethora of well-made wine can be found below the $20 price point, though knowing where to look can be a difficult feat. That’s why we’re here! We’ve rounded up ten excellent bottles of red wine to drink under $20 retail cost. Keep this list on your phone for your next trip to your local wine shop.
This affordable, easy-to-find wine from Languedoc has long been a wine lover’s go-to and it’s no surprise why. Hovering around the $10 price point, this 80/20 blend of Carignan and Grenache is tasty, dependable, and extremely budget friendly. “Les Hérétiques is consistently one of the best ‘bistro’ / French table reds year after year,” says Andrew Rosenblum, founder of LA-based food-and-wine pop-up producer, The Counterpart. “It goes with everything, from a burger and fries to high-end French fare,” he says. The Carignan is put through partial carbonic maceration.
For a juicy red wine with a touch of fizz, look no further than Lini 910 Lambrusco’s Rosso NV. Crafted in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, this traditional Lambrusco is produced from organically-farmed fruit via the charmat (tank) method “Lini Lambrusco is an unexpected wine made with incredible wine making,” says Kat Heverin, New York-based wine consultant. Heverin describes the wine’s comfort and accessibility as “like talking with a good friend until the wee hours of the morning.” Expect flavors of blackberries, jammy red fruits, and violets to lead to a juicy, thirst-quenching finish.
Well-made Pinot under $15 is nearly impossible to find, though David Gordon, longtime wine director at Tribeca Grill, has done it at Bacchus. Produced from Pinot Noir grapes harvested in California’s Monterey region, this medium-bodied wine jumps with flavors of red cherries, raspberry skin, and a touch of pepper. Serve slightly chilled with a variety of foods, especially hearty fall stews, roasted veggies, and mushroom-based sauces.
Fans of bold-yet-balanced reds will love this affordable gem from Douro’s Portugal region. Produced from a blend of 45% Touriga Franca, 30% Touriga Nacional, 20% Tinta Roriz, and 5% Tinta Barroca, this wine from Casa Ferreirinha exudes full-bodied flavors of ripe red and black fruits, earth, and hints of chocolate. “Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande is a blend that offers good fruit, smooth tannins and great balance,” says Anita Musi, fine wine specialist at Evaton USA. Musi describes the wine as “food friendly, affordable, and easy to drink.” Serve with grilled meats, charcuterie, and Iberian-inspired tapas.
For a fun and fruity off-the-beaten-path pick, pop the cork on a bottle of Tatsis’ Young Vines Dry Red from Macedonia. Produced from the native varieties of Xinomavro and Negoska, this tart and lively juice offers flavors of cranberry, pomegranate, cherry skin, white pepper, and freshly picked herbs. The wine is made from biodynamic fruit, is vinified with minimal intervention, and is vegan friendly. Pair with chicken tagine or savory, Greek-inspired pies; spinach, meat, and beyond.
Bordeaux on a budget? You bet. Mara Rudzinski, sommelier and managing partner at New York’s newly opened Contento, recommends this pick from Bordeaux’s Côtes de Blaye region. “This is a beautifully made, well balanced Bordeaux,” she says, adding that it’s crafted from a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and a touch of Malbec, made by a brother and sister team who focus on biodynamic and organic farming. On the palate, ripe blackberry, red currants, and sweet spice lead a finish laden with well-integrated, gritty tannins. Drink slightly chilled within five years from the vintage date.
For something fresh and crunchy, check out Gianni Doglia’s Grignolino d’Asti. Fruit for this wine hails from sustainably-farmed vineyards in Italy’s Piedmont region and is vinified in stainless steel to preserve fruit-forwardness. “This wine is super light and chillable,” says Caroline Coral, operations manager at Swigg Wine. “It works on its own as an easygoing aperitif or as a food-friendly match for a staggering array of dishes. It’s a killer deal at $18 retail.” Expect flavors of strawberries, purple flower petals, and sweet spice on the palate.
Love Brunello di Montalcino but not the price tag that comes along with it? Check out this similar, more youthful bottle from La Gerla. Fruit for this wine comes from vineyards on the hill of Montalcino, planted at 320 meters above sea level. “Poggio gli Angeli offers a lovely adventure for the price, and the quality is impossible to argue with,” says Brandon Borcoman, founder of Vin-Decision. The wine’s rather quick aging regimen of four months in Slavonian wood, followed by two months in bottle prior to release, renders it perfect for youthful drinking. Pair with your favorite Sunday Supper picks — pizza, red pasta, you name it.
For domestic glou-glou in one of its tastiest forms, dive into a bottle of this easy-drinking red from California. The wine is produced from organically-farmed Zinfandel, Carignan, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon, and Picpoul sourced from Mendocino County. Expect juicy flavors of red candies, cherry juice, and dried wild herbs on the palate. It’s a light, chillable red at a great price.
Susanne Wagner, sommelier and wine director at Crystal Springs Resort (known for their award-winning Restaurant Latour), reaches for Duca Carlo Guarini’s Burdi Primitivo when searching for affordable, delicious reds. Vinified in stainless steel, “this Primitivo is intended to be a fresh drinking style of wine that plays well with just about anything you choose to pair it with,” she says, describing the wine as light to medium-bodied, as well as versatile year round. Wagner describes the wine as showing notes of blackberry, cherry, and savory herbs.
“This is an ideal wine to entertain with. Pinot Noir lovers, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers, will appreciate this Primitivo,” she adds, describing the wine as beautifully smooth and easy to sip on. “It also stands up to richer foods like charcuterie and cheese, and it’s made from organically-certified grapes.”