The Best Cheap Wines of the Year

We call them “Steals,” but no matter what you call them, inexpensive wines are good to have around. So every January, we look back at all the wines we tasted in the past year and choose five whites and five reds that scored 90 points or above, and come in at no more than $5 a glass (which is $25 a bottle). Here they are—enjoy them!


UMANI RONCHI “Vellodoro” Pecorino 2021
(Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy) $18
Pecorino is not just a cheese; it’s also an ancient indigenous Italian grape. Super refreshing, yet bone dry, it has a lively lemony tang.
91 pts KM

(Bordeaux, FR) $16
The quality of simple, “every night” Bordeaux has never been better. This white—at $3 a glass!—is fresh and lively, with white peach notes and just a touch of good bitter green (like arugula or sage). A blend of Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle.
90 pts KM

PIERRE SPARR Pinot Gris Grande Réserve 2021
(Alsace, France) $16
Alsace Pinot Gris is just about the exact opposite of Italian Pinot Grigio, which is to say, it has richness, weight, and loads of texture. This one from Pierre Sparr is minerally, botanical, and as refreshing as a gin & tonic. Salads, grilled asparagus, poached salmon…this wine will make you hungry.
90 pts KM

GREYWACKE Sauvignon Blanc 2022
(Marlborough, New Zealand) $24
We wrote glowingly about this wine’s expensive “big sister”Greywacke’s “Wild Sauvignon.” This, the winery’s “regular” Sauvignon, is outrageously crisp and packed with pink grapefruit and mango.
90 pts KM

SIMONSIG Chenin Blanc 2022
(Stellenbosch, Coastal Region, Western Cape, South Africa) $15
One of the freshest Chenin Blancs I’ve had all year. Tart apple and white pepper flavors end with lemon rind and a touch of sea salt.
91 pts SW


ROUTESTOCK CELLARS “Route 116” Pinot Noir 2021
(Sonoma Coast, CA) $24
Inexpensive Pinot Noir is generally an oxymoron, but RouteStock (made by importer Wilson Daniels) is terrific. Raspberry-cranberry, cola, and briary notes plus an exclamation point of spice at the end.
91 pts KM

THE PARING Red Wine 2018
(California) $25
Finding a Cabernet-based red that’s as big and well-structured as this one for $5 a glass is amazing. Lots of cassis, licorice, and plum flavors. Would be just the ticket for slow-roasted meat.
91 pts KM

FEUDO MONTONI “Lagnusa” Nero d’Avola 2021
(Sicily, Italy) $25
Nero d’Avola, one of the classic grapes of southern Italy, makes this outrageously delicious wine, full of spiced red cherry, red licorice, and dark chocolate flavors. Velvety texture. Sensational for the price.  
94 pts KM

EVESHAM WOOD Pinot Noir 2021
(Willamette Valley, Oregon) $25
Imagine raspberries cooking down on the top of the stove and you’ve got this lovely, simple, well-priced Pinot from the Willamette. It’s fresh and lively with notes of sandalwood, cedar, and spice. Affordable Pinot Noir is hard to come by. So here you go. 
90 pts KM

TENUTA DI FESSINA “Erse” Etna Rosso 2020
(Etna, Sicily, Italy) $23
Etna Rosso wines are from the slopes of the active volcano Mt. Etna in Sicily and are made from the super tannic variety Nerello Mascalese. There’s a core of beautiful red fruit here, within a clenched fist of tannin. Red meat territory.
92 pts KM

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