Wine Under $20

Seeking the best value for the buck.

How Much Do You Spend on Wine?

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[Dollar photograph: Shutterstock]

Our recent Pinot Noir taste test and my recently-bare wine fridge got me thinking about how I spend my money. For the taste test, we tasted 12 wines made from (predominantly) pinot noir, to mixed results. Pinot Noir is a grape that's especially hard to make into cheap wine; so in general I look elsewhere when I'm stocking up on a budget, but in the comments section of our taste test, a lot of you chimed in with favorites.

There were some recommendations in the 10-buck range, but a few that edged higher than our taste test cutoff of $15. Serious Eater imwalkin mentioned La Crema and A to Z, and a few folks seconded the notion that they'd rather spend $3 more on a bottle and get something they really enjoyed.

Over the years, as I've had the chance to taste more and more wine from around the world, I've realized that I'd rather save my money for wines I love. I want my glass of wine to be worth the money, the sobriety, and the calories. If it doesn't taste good, why bother? Much of the time, I'd rather spend $18 on one delicious bottle of wine, and skip drinking another evening, rather than spend $18 on two $9 bottles of wine that I don't actually find delicious. It's the same amount of money, but my priority is flavor.

Of course it would be great to find tons of delicious dirt-cheap wine, but making wine, and bottling and shipping it, costs money. Land costs money. Labor costs money. (For more on this, check out our series from importer Terry Theise on why some wines cost more than others, and where your wine dollars go. Part one is here, part two, here.)

So tell me, Serious Wine Lovers: how do you allocate your wine budget? Are you a great bargain shopper? Do you find good stuff for $12 and under? Or do you save your pennies for bottles that are a little pricier? Do you buy cases in order to get a discount? Or did you join a wine club? Tell us your tricks and wine finds in the comments!

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