You get exactly what you pay for, right? Not always, though. Sometimes, if you choose wisely, you get a lot more than you pay for – even when it comes to wines for summertime entertaining and outdoor dining. So whether you need a hearty dry red to go with the perfect steaks you’re grilling or a more delicate white to accompany your fresh seafood, you really can get the great wine you need for less than $20, one that also tastes like it cost much more. Here, then, are our picks for the best wines under $20.
Notable 2015 Oaky and Buttery – $14.99
Delivering just a hint of roasted nuts, coconut cream pie, and vanilla, this chardonnay has been aged for nine months in French oak to imbue it with a toasty vanilla profile to satisfy California chardonnay lovers. And what the aroma promises the flavor delivers. The creamy, oaky flavor pairs well with chicken, turkey, or lobster.
2015 Tom Gore Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – $12.99
With a heady blend of cherry and currants and whispers of tobacco and leather and chocolate, this cabernet sauvignon from northern California owes it all to oak aging. Because it remains light and has a smooth mouth, it matches up well with peppered steak and roast beef.
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Bonterra Organic Vineyards Merlot – $16.00
This is a California Merlot with hints of petite sirah and malbec adding complexity to the fruit-forward notes, including plums, black cherries, and vanilla spice. The oakish tannins are soft, but still provide the necessary acidity. You can sip it by itself or pour it alongside roast chicken.
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay – $17.00
The top-selling chardonnay in the US for 25 years, this wine is hand crafted in small vineyard lots in Sonoma County, California. It has been called the quintessential chardonnay with notes of mango, pineapple, and citrus and smooth highlights of butter and oak for a velvety mouth feel. It’s great for party toasts or serving with seafood.
Iron Side Cellars 2014 Red Blend – $15.99
Why not be bold and try a blend? This red blend from Iron Side Cellars is both full bodied and complex in flavor owing to the carefully orchestrated mix of petite sirah, syrah, merlots, and cabernet sauvignon modulated by blackberry, blueberry, cassis, and sweet spice. It all adds up to a wine that can fit nearly any occasion.
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Finally, if you’re really price-conscious, you may be tempted to grab a bottle of wine in the $10-or-less range. But, most of the time, you shouldn’t because you’ll likely be disappointed with the unexciting flatness. Better to stick with one of our picks here.