You can always find drinkable wines in the $8 to $12 range, but finding memorable sips at that price point can be much more elusive. Often, it helps to veer well off the Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet path and try mysteriously labeled wines that don’t immediately ring a bell as you walk down the wine aisle.
Because they don’t fit into an easy-to-grab category, such bottles are often under-appreciated—and under-appreciated often means under-priced. These wines are cases in point. You may need to look at the fine print to see what grapes they’re made from, and even then, they may be grapes you don’t know or blends you’ve never tried. Yet rolling the dice on these unknowns results in price-to-pleasure payoffs firmly in the wine-lover’s favor.
- Marqués de Cáceres 2008 Dry White Wine (Rioja, Spain; $8):Enjoy pear, apple and floral notes with a brisk backdrop for an enlivening after-work sip.
- Magnificent Wine Company 2007 “House Wine” White Wine(Columbia Valley, Washington; $10):This party-worthy pick combines the fullness of Chardonnay with extra fruitiness from Riesling and Muscat.
- Banfi Centine Bianco 2008 White Table Wine (Tuscany, Italy; $13):Rich pear and soft lime notes meld into an irresistibly inviting white for leisurely weekend enjoyment.
- Les Deux Rives 2007 Corbières Rouge (Corbières, France; $10): Tobacco and tea-leaf notes flirt with the ripe, dark-cherry flavors in this food-friendly South-of-France blend.
- Ravenswood “Vintners Blend” 2006 Petite Sirah (California; $10):Ever tried Petite Sirah? Ravenwood’s juicy and robust, spice-tinged example is a great introduction to the lesser-known varietal.
- Dow’s 2006 Vale do Bomfim (Douro Valley, Portugal; $12):Four grapes you may have never heard of combine for an engagingly fruity and balanced red. Pair it with meaty stews later this season.
By Wini Moranville, Relish wine columnist. This article appeared originally in the October 2009 issue of Relish.