Dining

Reign of Terroir

The best regions for good cheap wine, according to the experts
Photo: Dave Katz/Tasting Table
Tips for Buying Good Cheap Wine

Stop buying wine by choosing the bottle with your favorite animal on the logo. If all you're looking for is an inexpensive bottle, there are better ways to find what's best for you. Leaving the animal kingdom doesn't mean you have to splurge. There are great, affordable wines aplenty if you know where to look.

According to a study from the Wine Market Council, "people aged between 21 and 38 are now the largest wine-drinking cohort in the U.S.," drinks trade publication The Drinks Business reports. Though wine drinkers in this age range aren't afraid to spend $20 or more for a bottle, many are looking for something under that $20 price point.

While there are a variety of tips for finding a bottle in the $10 to $20 range, a great place to start is learning a handful of value regions. These are areas that aren't especially prestigious yet and that have eluded hype, which might send prices soaring. We spoke to the experts to find out which regions are especially good bets right now for finding great deals.

Greg Van Wagner, wine director of Jimmy's and Jimmy's Bodega, both in Aspen, Colorado, suggests some reliable regions to remember.

Santa Barbara is great for Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, Bordeaux varietals, Grenache and Syrah, he says. "Because land prices are less expensive than many other wine regions in the U.S., this helps keep prices lower."

The Rhone Valley is also a good bet. According to Van Wagner, "it offers amazing reds for the price—you get density, power, reflection of the terroir, aromatics and more from the reds in this region—everything we love about red wines."

Bryn Birkhahn, head sommelier at New York's Pearl & Ash, says, "There is great value to be found in most wine regions nowadays," but a few stand out.

The Loire Valley is a great option for inexpensive "full-bodied, earthy reds to go with food," Birkhahn says.

Wine consultant Nick Gorevic of Brooklyn's June wine bar agrees. "In the Loire, real estate is cheap, there's a lot more organic production compared to other regions and the wines have never been heralded enough to drive up demand and prices."

Emilia-Romagna is another favorite for Gorevic. The region "makes these amazing sparkling red wines, like Lambrusco, which can often be cheaper than Prosecco and pack a real punch of flavor that is meant to go with food, not as just an aperitif."

Bordeaux might not scream "value," but Birkhahn says it has surprisingly reasonable options. "If you are going to a party," she says, "look for sparkling wines labeled Crémant or Methode Traditionelle, which indicates wines that are made in the same style as Champagne and can therefore be expected to have greater complexity of flavor and smaller more energetic bubbles."

Lorena Ascencios, head wine buyer at Astor Wines & Spirits in New York, has another go-to region for affordable bottles.

Piedmont is where she sends people looking for a good value. "These are the wines made from the local grapes: Barbera, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Freisa, to name a few of the dry reds. They are very affordable (most are under $15 to $20 a bottle) and, in most cases, come from small, artisanal producers." Ascencios also points out that these are the same wines that Piedmont locals drink, and "it's best to drink like the locals do."

Find Pearl & Ash here, or in our DINE app.
Find June here, or in our DINE app.

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