10 top wines for under $20

Oct 26, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. ET

You have a fancy, upscale dinner party to attend at one of your wealthier friend's houses. You promised them you'd bring a bottle of wine but know you can't afford the $40 stuff they gave you for Christmas. Instead of blowing the bank on overpriced vino, bring one of these under $20 bottles! Don't let the price tag fool you, though — these are some of the most highly rated wines out there!

Variety of wine

From California to New York and all the way to Italy, these wines have received high marks against more expensive bottles. Trust us, the only person who will know how much you spent is you! These wines were chosen by the experts at Food & WineDelishWine Spectator and The Reverse Wine Snob!


Porca de Murca Douro, 2009

This Portugal favorite scored over 90 points in the Wine Spectator ratings and has been completely sold out on wine.com for months. So why is this wine so good? It's made with a blend of port grapes, which gives it a hearty but not too heavy texture. According to the folks at Delish, this wine has a tart, fresh cherry flavor but a very earthy and humble finish. This wine would pair wonderfully with a bowl of hearty beef stew. If the flavor and high marks aren't enough to persuade you to try it, what about the price tag, which is around $7 per bottle? To snag a bottle, check out Astor Wines!


Mumm Napa Brut Prestige

You can't have a list of great wines without including one bottle of bubbly, right? This nonvintage from Napa Valley received high marks from Wine Enthusiast (a 92 rating) and Wine Spectator (a 90 rating). This mix of primarily pinot and chardonnay grapes gives this sparkling wine a layered flavor filled with floral notes and tons of citrus and fruit. Because of the lush fruit flavors, we'd pair this wine with a lemon zest angel food cake. You also can't go wrong with the price, just $20!


Kirkland Signature Rutherford Napa Valley Meritage, 2010

You can't beat a good bottle of wine that you can buy at Costco! This Napa Valley Meritage is made up of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and cabernet franc grapes. This wine was a top pick by the Reverse Wine Snob for its dry and long finish. We love its medium body and the spice you get from the mixture of the different grapes. This pairs well with bold cheeses like goat, so serve it alongside this tomato and goat cheese quiche. You can buy this at most Costco stores for about $13 a bottle.


Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay, 2010

Kendall-Jackson has always been a great bang for your buck, but this 2010 chardonnay takes it to a whole new level. For just shy of $20, this high-rated wine (a 92-point score from Wine Enthusiast) is rich and creamy, with delicious hints of vanilla and cinnamon. Unlike many chardonnays, this isn't overly buttery, but instead has a very smooth, slightly fruity finish. Chardonnays pair well with mild poultry, so serve this bottle with a classic roasted chicken.


Napa Cellars Merlot, 2010

If you're not a big merlot fan because of how heavy and dry it is, give the grape another chance with this luscious wine. For about $16 a bottle, you can't beat it! This wine has a very fruity, bold flavor but is not as overwhelming as typical varieties of merlot. The finish is complex and slightly oaky. Pair this bottle with this crispy-spiced duck breast.


Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling, 2010

If you aren't sure what kind of wine to get, a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle will never disappoint, especially this Cold Creek riesling. Made in the Columbia Valley of Washington, this crisp, sweet and tart white is one of the top 20 highest rated wines under $20 on wine.com. Unlike many rieslings, this bottle is fresh and clean without being overly sweet or syrupy. We paired ours with this spicy three-bean chili, but any spicy dish will pair well with it!


Columbia Crest Grand Estate Merlot, 2008

A 2008 vintage for $12 isn't easy to find, especially from a top-notch winery like Columbia Crest. This 2008 received an 89 rating from Wine Spectator, naming it one of the best value wines. This merlot is made up of 90 percent merlot, 5 percent cabernet sauvignon and 5 percent cab franc, which gives it a slightly lighter, more fruity finish than other merlots. We love the caramel, nutty flavors as well, which make this the perfect wine to pair with one of these decadent dark chocolate dessert recipes.


Chateau Tanunda Shiraz Grand Barossa, 2008

This is easily one of the best shirazes we've ever tasted. This 2008 scored one of the coveted spots in Wine Spectator's annual top 100 wines of the year list for 2011. This medium-bodied wine has notes of blackberry and plum, with a slight aftertaste of cracked black pepper and spice. This dark wine also received a rating of 92 points. If you can find it, it goes for $18. Shirazes pair well with lamb, so we recommend having a glass with these lamb steaks.


Buehler Zinfandel, 2010

This top rated (received a 91-point score from Wine Spectator) falls right under our $20 budget at $19.99. Like many zinfandels, the Buehler has a fresh, fruity taste, with hints of cherry in each sip. You also get a rich vanilla aftertaste and even a hint of spice. What makes this particular zinfandel a must-have is how light it is in body and flavor. Pair this with some old-fashioned BBQ ribs.


Domaine Jean Descombes (Georges Duboeuf)
Morgon, 2009

With a rating of 93 and a spot in the top 50 wines of 2011 by Wine Spectator as well as a rating of 91 by Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate, we knew this wine was going to talk a big game. What we didn't expect was how fruity, sweet and even florally the finish would be. In addition to floral and fruity (black raspberries and pear especially), each sip has a definitive spiciness to it. Plus, for just $15, this amazing French wine can be yours. You really can't beat a budget-friendly wine that tastes like it should cost in the upper 50-dollar range.

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