top wine under $20 that only tastes expensive

Last Updated August 2020

You don’t have to be a sommelier to tell the difference between a good bottle of wine and a bad bottle of wine. Generally speaking, wine buyers have set the unofficial threshold at a price point of $20. 

Upwards of $20, you can more or less trust that you’re buying a good bottle. Under $20, you might need to be more cautious. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of high-quality yet affordable wines that you won’t find in your local wine aisle — and they’re all less than $20.

French red option: Camille de Labrie Bordeaux ($17)

World-renowned wine critic James Suckling agrees that this Bordeaux is fantastic, awarding it an impressive 91 points — a hard-to-attain score based on a standardized 100-point wine rating scale. If soft, creamy cheese or any red meat is on the dinner menu, this wine is the ideal complement. Shop here.

Sonoma Chardonnay: Halpin Grand Reserve Chardonnay ($15)

Halpin winery is considered a powerhouse when it comes to Chardonnays. Over the last 15 years, their Chardonnays have received over 100 ratings of 90 to 98, which is a noteworthy and impressive feat. At $15, we look at this bottle as a must-have, and we love its juicy, rich flavor. Shop here.

All year Rosé: Piece of Work Rosé ($10)

If you’re a big fan of rosé wines, you’ve probably had one that was sweeter than expected. We like this one for the fact that while it maintains a strong fruit presence, there is minimal sweetness compared to other rosés. And with the price marked down from $20 to $10, we’re buying multiple bottles. Shop here.

Great Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc: Kinfolk Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($12)

Easily the best bang for the buck wine on our list, this bottle is probably also the easiest to drink. And with a full-bodied mouthfeel that isn’t too sweet, you can trust it’ll be a crowd-pleaser among white wine drinkers. We love the price point too. Shop here.

Double award-winning Italian red: Rosso di Montalcino Tuscany ($19)

With multiple world-renowned wine critics giving this Sangiovese-based red top marks, combined with its sub-$20 price point, this might be the biggest no-brainer on our list. Sangiovese is a particular type of grape native to Italy and known for its bold taste. This is the type of wine that’s best paired with a meal. Shop here.

Award-winning Italian white: Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe Soave DOC ($19)

Probably the best anytime wine on our list, this one is great by itself or with a meal. With its medium body and crisp finish, we like it as a happy hour wine. It’s an unbeatable value for a top European white at $19 per bottle. Shop here.

5-star Australian Cab: Farm to Table Cabernet Sauvignon Victoria ($19)

This winery recently received a 5-star award from world-renowned wine critic James Halliday, and it shows when you take your first sip. The Farm to Table cab is a well-rounded red that has a bit of everything, but it won’t overpower you in any particular way. Drink by itself or with a meal and you can’t go wrong. Shop here.

Can’t-miss Sonoma Chardonnay: Moundsman Reserve Sonoma County Chardonnay ($15)

Wine critic Robert Parker has gone on record saying it’s “impossible to go wrong” with any Moundsman release, and we’re with him, especially when it comes to this $15 Chardonnay. With strong fruit and oak intensity, we like this wine alongside a snack or a meal. Shop here.

Award-winning Spanish Rioja: Cune Vina Real Rioja Crianza ($15)

Cune winery is the only Spanish winery to receive Wine Spectator’s “Wine of the Year” award. While this one didn’t bring home that trophy, it did win a 92-point award from wine critic James Suckling. It’s an easy-to-drink, crowd-pleasing red that guests should love. And at $15, we think it’s an easy decision. Shop here.