Last week we visited Super Value wine—stuff costing $5 or less. What about the next tier—wines that cost around $10?
Here, you actually find real values. Most in this category tend to be over-oaked, too sweet, or simply something out of a wine factory with no soul or distinction, but, if you follow some guidelines, you will find quality bargains, and the suggestions apply to wines in the $10-15 range, too.
Avoid celebrity grapes. If people are not familiar with the grape, makers must attract you in some other way. Price is go-to way. Albariño/Alvariño from Spain/Portugal is a sensational value and deliciously light and bright. Gamay grapes—Beaujolais wines—from Burgundy will not cost as much as the region’s pinot noirs and chardonnays, but they are serious wines.
Go with white. Because many whites don’t spend time in expensive barrels and go to market soon after they are made, the winery does not have as much invested in the product as they do with reds. Bonus: these wines are light, bright, refreshing.
Shun expensive regions. You are not going to get bargains from land-expensive Napa or Sonoma, but you have a chance in Paso Robles and the French Languedoc.
Give the Old World a whirl. There are sensational values in Old World wines, particularly with second and third labels. Reason: families have owned their estates for centuries. They paid for the vineyard and the chateau/bodega generations ago. You are paying for the wine, not the winery’s bank loan.
Go south. Thanks to exchange rates and long-established wine makers, there are superb values from Argentina, Chile, and South Africa.
Balk at bulk. A 1.5 liter bottle of wine for $10 is just two bottles of $5 wine. We dealt with those horror potentials last week.
• Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT 2016: Great value-for-price for fun, laid-back sipping. $8-12 Link to my review
• Ravage Cabernet Sauvignon California 2015: Big, oaky California cab, easy to find at Sams Club or grocery store. $10-12 Link to my review
• Charles Smith The Velvet Devil Merlot Washington State 2014: Right for price rather than exciting or distinctive. Those who enjoy soft and non-threatening will enjoy. $10-13 Link to my review
• Castello del Poggio Prosecco DOC Demi-Sec: Crisp, lively, definite sweetness, but not so much as to put-off dry wine lovers. Excellent fruit, balance, elegance. $13 Link to my review
Last round: Difference between master and beginner: the master has failed more times than the beginner has tried.