We Try Every White Wine from Barefoot

Wine Under $20

Seeking the best value for the buck.


My mom came into town this weekend. And she came to our Serious Eats wine tasting. The low-down on my mom is that she lives in a suburban town in the Midwest, is vegetarian, and doesn't really drink. We're still trying to figure out if I'm actually related to this person.

Since I have yet to see or even hear of my mom finishing an entire glass of wine, I wasn't really expecting her to wow us with her highly attuned wine palate and precise comments on a wine's nose and flavor profile. But I've got to say, she nailed it. A sip or two in, and she'd say the word that everyone was thinking. I've never been so proud.

I figured a lineup of Barefoot whites would actually be very appropriate for my mom, as most of what I've heard is that they tend to be light, fruity, and sweet (and inexpensive, at about $7 a bottle). Most of them definitely fit the bill, but a couple stood out as much more palatable compared to the rest of the lot.

The Winner: Pinot Grigio

This Barefoot Pinot Grigio had tart aromas of lemon and green apple balanced by a sweet honey scent. We tasted peach candy flavors followed by a little tang of guava on the finish. While it still is on the sweet side, this wine has enough acidity to keep it in check—either with or without food. And something I've never seen before, this wine was classified as "American", with no more geographic specificity other than the fact it was bottled in Modesto, California.

Runner-Up: Sauvignon Blanc

On the drier side, the California Sauvignon Blanc's scent reminded us of bright green grass or herbs with a little smokiness. The wine had a clear limey flavor (which made a few of us recall the flavor on Hint of Lime Tostitos.) It has an abrupt finish and isn't complex by any means, but it's not offensive.

The Rest

Of the remaining bottles, our tasters' main complaint was that the wines were too sweet, although some were clearly more off-putting than others. Here's a play-by-play of the bottles that you might stumble upon in a store. In general, these might be better dressed up in sangria or a cocktail, as we saw with the round of Three-Buck Chuck.

Riesling (California): Very sweet, slightly effervescent, dripping with honey and pear. Would recommend if you like—and I'll differentiate here between "like" and "tolerate"—really sweet things. Could also be a decent base for a pitcher of white Sangria, but skip the sugar.

Chardonnay (California): If there was such thing as vanilla juice, this wine could be a good proxy. A little too much oaky flavor (probably not from oak barrels) made the sweetness come off as overripe tropical fruit.

White Zinfandel (California): Smelled like strawberry rhubarb jam, and tasted like diluted watermelon Jolly Ranchers.

Moscato (Argentina): Had a strange chemical-like flavor to it, like orange blossom Windex.

Have you tried the Barefoot line of wines? Are there any bottles that you particularly like and buy frequently? We'll be hitting the bubbly and red lineup next.