Following are ten excellent and relatively inexpensive wines to try: four white wines, one rose, one sparkling wine, and four red wines. Even though these wines may not have received a lot of attention or fanfare, you are sure to find several favorites on this list. Try them!
Chablis (Chablis, France).
White Burgundies are expensive and the best are difficult to find. And yet Chablis is a type of white Burgundy that is available and not all that expensive. You should try the “real” Chablis from the Chablis region in France, of course, not imitation Chablis usurping the name. Chablis starts around $25 a bottle. Try the producer, Louis Michel.
Picpoul de Pinet (Languedoc, France).
Who would have thought a good white wine from France could be purchased for $10 to $12? Picpoul de Pinet is a lively, racy, minerally wine with its own appellation from the southern part of France. Buy it before it’s discovered, while the price is still low.
Soave (Soave, Veneto, Italy).
Large, industrial production hurt Soave’s reputation a few decades ago. The Soave region is now back in form, making one of Italy’s best white wines at reasonable prices. Look for Soave from small producers such as Gini, Pieropan, Inama, Pra, or Suavia for the true Soave experience.
Kerner and Müller-Thurgau (Alto Adige, Italy).
These two native German varieties are listed together because they both are at their best not in Germany but in the cool mountain slopes of Alto Adige in northern Italy. Try the viscous, luscious Kerner from Abbazia di Novacella. Likewise, very good Müller-Thurgaus are available from various producers in Alto Adige for $15/$16.
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (Abruzzo, Italy).
Can a rosé wine ever be called great? Yes, it can, if it’s a Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo made by Edoardo Valentini or Cataldi Madonna in Abruzzo. Produced from the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo variety, this rosé rises to new heights in the hands of a great winemaker such as Valentini or Cataldi Madonna.
Roederer Estate Brut (Mendocino, California).
You love Champagne but you need a less expensive bubbly for entertaining? Roederer Estate, owned by Champagne Louis Roederer is the answer. This sparkling wine is an outstanding value and delicious. The white is about $22, the delicate rosé about $28 to $30.
Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont, Italy).
The Barbera red grape variety is wonderful. Its wines are fruity but dry, with bracing acidity. Many are priced in the $16 to $20 range. Great with pasta dishes and pizza. Numerous good producers exist. We recommend Vietti and Marchese di Gresy.
Nebbiolo Langhe or Nebbiolo d’Alba.
The red Nebbiolo variety is loved by many. It finds its best expression in Barolo and Barbaresco. But these great, dry wines need time to mature. While you are waiting, try a simple Nebbiolo, made from the same grape as the two big B wines, but outside of their growing zones. The latest Nebbiolo you can find in your wine shop will be fine, and cost around $25 or less. Nebbiolo has its own unique, delicious flavor.
Chianti Classico (Tuscany, Italy).
Chianti Classico often gets passed up, perhaps because it’s too well-known. But this very dry wine, made from Sangiovese, is one of the best dry red wines in the world. Make sure it’s a “Chianti Classico” (a finer region than the larger Chianti region); and you don’t need the more expensive “Riserva” version. It should cost between $22 and $30.
Rioja (Rioja, Spain).
Rioja is another region, like Chianti Classico, that does not get the respect it deserves. Made mainly from the Tempranillo variety, young dry red Riojas start for as little as $12 and can go up to $60 for the best Gran Reservas. Among several great producers, R. Lopez de Heredia is one of the best.
By Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan from Wine for Dummies, 6th Edition