How to Buy Cheap Wine


Surprisingly enough, you don’t have to spend a fortune when buying a good bottle of wine.  There are many, many good, solid wines at lower price points … leaving you enough money to actually buy food to go with it.  Just in time for the holidays, Parade Magazine recently ran a piece with three secrets on how to buy cheap, but good, wine.

1. Check Out More Obscure Varietals
Instead of trying to impress with Merlot, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, pick wines made with less-popular grape varietals. The Nerello Mascalese varietal from Sicily is similar to Pinot Noir. One winery to look for is Di Giovanna. Merlot drinkers often like the Garnacha varietal from Spain, and the Garnacha de Fuego label is a sure bet. The Primitivo grape from Puglia, Italy, is a cousin of Zinfandel. You’ll wow dinner guests with a bottle from the Torre Quatro winery. Best of all, these can be had for less than $15 a bottle.

2. Look Into Up-and-Coming Wine Regions
Tuscany, Napa Valley and the Côte d’Or are the premier grape-growing regions of the world. Down the street from their gold-coast neighbors lie lesser-known regions whose wines are a steal: Le Marche in Italy, the central coast of California and the Macon region in Burgundy, France.

Rosso Piceno is a red wine produced in Le Marche, and the Boccadigabbia label puts out a great version. Syrah from the central coast is gaining a marvelous reputation. Try a bottle from the Andrew Murray winery. The elegant Chardonnays of the Macon are best represented by Jadot and Hertiers du Comte Lafon. Again, all cost less than $15.

3. Seek Out “Second Label” Wines
Just as upscale designer Vera Wang recently created a clothing line for mass retailer Kohl’s, many of the most-popular winemakers produce affordable “second label” wines. Talley Vineyards in California is best known for its Rosemary’s Vineyard wines but also produces several others under the name Bishop’s Peak, including a fi ne Syrah.

Even the celebrated winemakers of Bordeaux, France, do this with their surplus grapes. Their second labels are still pricey, but consider this: A 2006 bottle of Chateau Latour is $500; the second label, Les Forts de La Tour, costs $100. It’s the same recipe for a fifth of the price. Not exactly cheap, but a bottle of Bordeaux like this makes for a memorable gift or a wonderful way to toast a special occasion. Cheers!

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Reader Comments

Nice to see the Central Coast of California named here. It is not as obscure as many might think. Additionally, its varied soils and climates allow for the cultivation of some 60 different varieties. This, in turn, makes the region a microcosm of wine representative of the global spectrum. Some very prominent producers have been making wine here for decades - largely Pinot noir, Chardonnay and to some extent red Bordeaux varieties. Now, Rhone varieties are growing in popularity (which has probably led to the planting of these varieties in the North coast: Napa and surrounding area). The unfortunate consequence of increased awareness and popularity of the region is a rise in price. While some producers who have come to the limelight now price their wines in the $30 and up range there, are still many good deals to be found in the large and diverse region.