6 Great Wines (3 Red & 3 White) That Cost Under $20
There is nothing like a good bottle of wine to make a dinner, or other occasion, special.
The good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a memorable bottle of wine either. Thanks to the wonders of global shipping there are now many terrific wines available near you for less than $20.
In this article we are going to talk about red and white wines in general and then we are going to list six great-tasting wines – three red and three white – that you can purchase for under $20 a bottle.
These wines are also popular and are available at many local grocery stores or wine shops, depending on your state’s liquor laws.
So before we get to those great, and expensive, wines let’s take a closer look at red and white wines and the differences between the two as well as the various types of each.
The first thing you need to know if you are a wine novice is that red wines are generally more robust than whites. As a result, red wines are often served with red meats.
Red wines can be fruity, sweet or savory in tone. Most, though not all, are aged longer than white wines. They are usually served at a cool room temperature but not chilled.
As with white wines, there is a range of body in reds, too. On the lighter-bodied side you have Zinfandel, Pinot Noir and Beaujolais Nouveau. Try a Cabernet Franc, Merlot, or Chianti for something medium-bodied. Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the best known full-bodied red but the category also includes Shiraz and Malbec. Many varieties offer a range of body depending on the vintage and the conditions under which it is grown and made. Always check the label for a better description of the body in a red.
The tannins in red wine come from the stems, seeds, and skin that are left in through the fermentation process provide bitterness and astringency.
Some wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Medoc, and Chianti, have much higher tannin content than others. Some studies have suggested that it is the tannin content in red wines that cause some people to get headaches after drinking small amounts of them.
Some people at risk for headaches from red wine may tolerate a red with low tannic content such as a Spanish Tempranillo, a Merlot, Cabernet Franc or Garnache.
Red wine is known to have many health benefits when consumed in moderation.
Resveratrol is a substance found in the skin of grapes which is why its presence is much stronger in red wine than white.
Resveratrols are directly linked to the activity of sirtuins, a family of proteins, involved in mitochondrial function in the cell. The mitochondria turn food into energy.
Resveratrol is also a powerful antioxidant that has anti-cancer properties, reduces bad LDL cholesterol and increases good HDL cholesterol in the blood, and helps fight diseases commonly associated with aging including osteoporosis and type II diabetes.
Common Varieties of Red Wine
Cabernet Sauvignon – This is a heavy-bodied, semi-tannic wine that tends towards fruit flavors. It is great with red meats including wild game.
Merlot – This is a low tannin red with a mellow taste that tends towards medium-body. It goes well with most foods even salads.
Shiraz – Shiraz is also known as Syrah depending on where it is grown. This tends to be a big, often heavy-bodied, wine with lots of fruit and spice. Pair it with red meat such as steak or roast beef.
Malbec – This is a medium to full-bodied, dry red with lots of acidity and tannins. It stands up well to spicy cuisines such as Mexican, Thai, and Tex Mex.
Pinot Noir – This is a high acidity, dry red wine. Generally on the light to medium-bodied side, it pairs well with lighter red meats and fish like tuna and salmon.
Barbera – Medium-bodied and very food-friendly. This wine pairs extremely well with Italian food.
Brunello – This is a big red with lots of aroma. Pair it with red meat and big flavors.
Cabernet Franc – Not as heavy in tannins as Cabernet Sauvignon this is a silkier version of that grape. Try it with barbeque.
Carignan – This is a high acid, high tannin red that goes perfect with rustic foods like grilled sausages.
Carmenere – A medium-bodied red and versatile wine that pairs well with many meals, particularly meat.
Charbono – Moderate, medium-bodied red, this is not a common wine. It works best with heartier meats and wild game.
Dolcetto – This is a low acid red that can be similar to Barbera but with less zip. It does well with a wide variety of foods including sandwiches.
Gamay – Gamay is a light, fruity red. This wine does well with light tomato sauces.
Grenache – This is a medium to full-bodied wine that pairs well with big flavors like steak.
Mourvèdre – This is a full-bodied, rustic Spanish wine. Pair it with heavier meals with strong flavors like wild turkey or pheasant.
Nebbiolo – Lots of tannins and acidity are typical of Nebbiolo as is sweeter fruit tastes. It does well with spice and strong meats like lamb.
Petit Syrah – This is another big, flavorful red that is meant to go with red meat. Serve it with ribs or steaks.
Sangiovese – Sangiovese is a medium-bodied red with high acidity. Pair it with tomato sauces and dishes like chicken parmigiana.
Tempranillo – This is an earthy, food-friendly, Spanish wine. Very versatile, you can combine with many different foods, particularly tapas.
Zinfandel – Do not confuse this with sweet White Zinfandel. This is a full-bodied red. Try it with Asian pepper sauces.
Now let’s take a quick look at white wines.
White wine is most often paired with chicken, other types of poultry including pheasant and wild birds, seafood, and creamy pastas.
The flavor of white wine tends to be lighter and crisper than red wine. Often served cold, it can also be served at room temperature which tends to heighten the flavors and aromas but can also make the tastes too strong for some.
It can range from a light-bodied wine such as a Riesling or Pinot Grigio to something more medium-bodied such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre or all the way to the full-bodied Chardonnays and Viogniers.
White wine tends to have more acidity than red wines. The degree of acidity is determined by a variety of factors including grape type and soil. It acts as a palate cleanser and cuts through the creaminess of many dishes, making it a great complement to many different types of sauces and meals.
Dryness is simply the opposite of sweetness in red wine. You want the acidity to balance the sweetness and work with the meal to complement the dish being served.
Common Varieties of White Wine
Chardonnay – Chardonnays are the most popular dry white wines available. They range from rich and buttery to unoaked versions that are fruity. The richer ones pair well with any type of buttery sauce such as Hollandaise or Bearnaise. They tend to go well with chicken and seafood. The unoaked Chardonnays can be a nice match with a salad, grilled shrimp or guacamole and tortilla chips.
Pinot Grigio – This is a light, crisp wine that tends to have high acidity. It pairs well with light foods such as seafood, salads, light pastas, and crackers and cheese.
Sauvignon Blanc – This is a dry, light white that often has herbal tones to it. It pairs well with sushi, Thai food, garlicky cream sauces, and appetizers.
Sauternes – This is a sweet white wine, often considered a dessert wine although it pairs well with many savoury dishes as well. It is sublime with foie gras or a Roquefort cheese.
Riesling – Rieslings are German in origin. They range from light to full-bodied and dry to sweet so it is important to read the label. This is a very versatile wine, capable of accompanying most dishes and cuisine types.
Chenin Blanc – This is a South African white that ranges from fruity to sweet and oaked. Chenin Blanc is great with salads or rich, creamy foods.
Gewürtztraminer – This is a full-bodied white that tends to have exotic tastes like lychee and spices. It can be dry, off-dry, or sweet. This wine works well with a fruit platter.
Grüner Veltliner – This is a light to medium-bodied white from Austria. It tends towards high acidity and can be dry or off-dry. Pair it with Asian or Thai food.
Marsanne – This is a full-bodied white with low acidity. It can stand up to bigger savory foods than many other whites. Try it with seafood lasagna or salt cod.
Muscat – This wine can be dry or sweet. The sweeter vintages do well with desserts while dryer wines pair beautifully with melon and prosciutto.
Pinot Blanc – This is an acidic wine that is generally dry. It pairs well with lighter fare such as chicken and light to medium sauces.
Sémillon – Semillon is a light to full-bodied white that is low in acids and aroma. It works well with seafood and foie gras.
Viognier – Complex and exotic, this is a dry wine that can feel a bit sweet. Great with Asian stir-frys.
Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc – This is a dry, high acid, medium-bodied white. Pair it with biscotti for a special treat.
Now that we have a better understanding of red and white wines and their differences. Here are six wines that cost under $20 a bottle that taste great and can make an excellent choice for either an upcoming dinner or to just drink with friends and/or family during the afternoon or evening.
3 Great Red Wines That Cost Under $20 Per Bottle
- Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon – This is a “big and bold” wine that features rich red fruit tastes and a lingering toasted oak finish. Its average cost ranges from $18 to $20.
- Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Aged in Bourbon Barrels – This is another “big and bold” wine with the added difference of being aged in bourbon barrels, which adds a heaviness to it. The wine features tastes of rich dark berries and fresh fruit and a smooth tannin finish. Its average cost ranges from $12-$15.
- Meiomi Pinot Noir – This wine is a traditional powerhouse in the Pinot Noir category. It boasts vibrant cherry tastes and a sweet fruitful and floral nose. This wine is consistently one of the most consumed and talked about Pinot Noirs on the planet. Its average cost ranges from $15 to $18.
3 Great White Wines That Cost Under $20 Per Bottle
- Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio – For anyone who knows anything about white wines, Santa Margherita is a consistent standout brand. This wine is very expressive and features notes of apple, pear and lemon. It is a great wine for warm spring or summer days and makes an excellent choice for a picnic or other outside excursion.
- Banshee Sonoma Coast Chardonnay – This is a sophisticated chardonnay that features notes of ripe apple, lemon, tropical fruit and vanilla – all in a creamy texture. Many consider this to be the perfect example of a California chardonnay. Its average cost ranges from $18 to $20.
- Kendal-Jackson’s Avant Chardonnay – This wine is a big step away from the company’s big, oaky chardonnays. Avant is fresh and light and another indication that America’s white wine tastes are moving from weighty wines to more elegant wines like this one.
Any of the above wines would make a great choice for your next dinner or get-together. The best choice may depend on what you plan to serve with the wine. Remember, red wines are better with red meat and white wines are better with chicken and seafood and creamy pastas.
Remember, if you are in need of wine or liquor for a special occasion or just for regular use, Drinkos is a delivery service that will bring wine and liquor to you so you don’t have to battle traffic and the weather to get to a store. More information about Drinkos and its services are available at www.drinkos.com.