Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Impressive Wines for $20: Part One!

Hi Deweese, 

So earlier this year I had the idea to ask two wine aficionados in my life for their favorite wines under or around $20. I asked them for this because I have a terrible memory when it comes to wines that I like! It seems like whenever Nick and I are headed to a dinner party we have 5 minutes in a wine store to pick out a good wine to bring to the party, and of course my mind goes BLANK and I can't remember a single good wine!

So enter this blog post: I figured if I was going to get the advice I needed in list form, I just HAD to share it with you! I've saved this post until now since everyone is attending and hosting lots of parties this time of year. Also, I always think wine makes a great gift!

Part one comes from Jon, a wonderful friend from college who was even a groomsmen in our wedding! Jon grew up in California, so yeah, he knows his stuff.  Jon loves wine and knows a lot about it. I am always telling him he should become a sommelier.

So here's Jon's list:

  • Decoy (CA) - This is a type of wine that Duckhorn makes.  It's their lower-end brand and all of their wine, including their whites, are very, very good.  They are all about 20-24 bucks.  I specifically like their "Red" which is a blend.  They make a cab, zin, and merlot too.
  • D'Arenberg - Love this Australian label.  Anything they make is fantastic.  Two of my favorites you can get almost anywhere are the "D'Arry's Original" (which is a shiriz/granache blend) and the "Footbolt Shiraz".  Both fantastic wines and both around 15 bucks.  Also, they make wines at around 9-11 bucks called the Stump Jump wines (white top, white label).  There are two reds - the "Stump Jump Red" and the "Stump Jump Shiraz" which are great wines for 10 bucks.
  • Ridge (CA) - Anything they make is very nice.  Lot of blends, lot of zinfandel used.  Some of their wines get up into the $30 range but they are well worth it.  I personally love the Geyserville which is about 28 bucks.  
  • A good, cheap, Italian type of wine to look for is Nero d'Avala.  This is a type of grape and its big, fruity, will taste great with food, and its cheap (10-20 bucks).

 I like Chardonnays, and some good ones for under 20 bucks are:

  • Simi (CA) Chardonnays are great and all between 10 and 20 bucks.
  • Rombauer (CA) makes a great chardonnay but its about 30 bucks
  • I like Sovereign (CA) (no link) Chardonnay which is about 15 bucks
  • And as I listed above Decoy makes a nice chardonnay

BONUS: One brand of wine that must be bought at the vineyard itself...

  • Mazzocco winery They make a ton of single vintage zinfandel's and they are AMAZING.  They make some cabs as well which are very good.  I am a wine member here and get a few shipments a year from them.  Seriously, fantastic.  Price point is from under 20 bucks all the way to 40 pretty much.  VERY good though.  Worth checking out!
Anyway, those are what I am liking right now.  I don't like Merlot and I don't like Pinot Noir so if you want anything from either you need to go someplace else!!! 

Thank you so much, Jon! Also, anyone up for a trip to Sonoma?

Later this month: my dad's picks!


PS: The wonderful photo of the cork is from the talented derekGavey on Flickr!


  1. Love this idea! We always found ourselves in the same boat, especially during the holiday party circuit. Here's one hot tip: you may not need to spend as much on wine as you think. Check out this recent article in Slate about why we should drink cheaper wine: http://slate.me/u9lcEl

  2. This is a constant source of stress for me, I'm always standing in the aisle looking dumbfounded. Not anymore! I'm putting this list in my phone right now, goodbye aisle angst! thanks!

  3. What a good article -- thanks for sharing! I do remember when I was studying abroad in Rome that a glass of house wine was cheaper than a Coke! Also, my family plays a similar game: we all get to try three different priced wines and try to guess which is the $10/bottle, $20/bottle and the $30/bottle. I'm NEVER right, but its fun!

  4. Such a great idea! I've been buying the same bottle of wine for over a year now (Alamos malbec - delish!) for every event and seriously need to branch out.

  5. Lucy! I cracked up when I saw this -- I too have been drinking Alamos malbec for at least a year straight! And bringing it to parties, etc. It is a great one that we should keep in rotation!

  6. Ha, so funny! I was at a dinner party one night and four of us showed up with it, and they all said they didn't think I would actually show up to another dinner with the same bottle!