My Top 10 Bargain Wines to Start the Year

You Can’t Go Wrong with These Reds!

I hope you splurged in December, my friends, because January is austerity month. Time to give that credit card a rest, or at least put a reasonable cap on your expenditures. I’m not talking about “Dryuary” (dry January)—a concept sometimes infused with a touch of self-righteousness. No; all that’s needed I think is a modicum of economic modesty, and a slight dial-back on total consumption.  Here then are ten of my favorite inexpensive wines—all less than $25 a bottle and all terrifically delicious. Each of these wines rated at least 90 points when I tasted them.

THISTLEDOWN “Gorgeous Grenache” 2020 (South Australia, Australia) $19

Gorgeous it is. A delicious, honest wine that’s exuberantly packed with spicy cherry flavors. Just dynamite with meatloaf, pizza, and other humble dishes.


TABLAS CREEK “Patelin de Tablas” 2019 (Paso Robles, California) $25

Berries, cherry cola, and spice unfurl under a veil of tannin. Light in body and big in flavor. A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Counoise.


MASSERIA LI VELI “Askos” Susumaniello 2020 (Puglia, Italy) $20

Such a stunner of a wine with pipe tobacco tones layered over dark fruit. The sophisticated, darker, and precise side of Puglia. Spice notes and elegance. Wow.


SEVEN HILLS Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (Walla Walla, WA) $25

A simple, can’t-go-wrong Cabernet with a super soft texture and satisfying blackberry and cocoa flavors.


HOWARD PARK “Flint Rock” Syrah 2017 (Great Southern, Australia) $24

A gorgeous basket of cherries, violets, and white pepper. Concentrated but not a bit heavy. Lively and just waiting for any simple roast or chop.


SZENT DONAT “Magma” 2019 (Transdanubia, Hungary) $25

Made from Blaufränkisch, Central Europe’s greatest red grape variety. Lots of sleek dark flavors. Spicy and savory. Very lively.


ALTANO Red 2018 (Douro, Portugal) $10

I love this wine’s notes of black licorice, star anise, and vanilla bean. There’s lots of structure and energy here for an unbelievable price.


YALUMBA Samuel’s Collection” Shiraz 2018 (Barossa Valley, Australia) $21

Fabulous flavors of wild berries and café au lait. Rich and yet cooling, thanks to touches of eucalyptus notes. Grilled meat is in order.


CHÂTEAU DE CIFFRE 2019 (Saint Chinian, Languedoc Roussillon, France) $22

A little good “funk,” plus tons of cherry confiture, cedar, black pepper, and tobacco. Very juicy. Made me want to race into the kitchen and roast a chicken.


SALLIER DE LA TOUR Nero d’Avola 2020 (Sicily, Italy) $20

Absolutely delicious and stunning for the price. Loads of cherry/blueberry fruit, plus a streak of spiciness, and terrific structure.  Mouth-filling and long.


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