It’s a sad and simple fact that wine hasn’t experienced quite the same boom as craft beer. It’s not that everyone saw Somm and pegged the whole wine-drinking community as one big cult; after all, beer’s complexities are just as obsessively studied as its classy cousin. Wine just happens to have a reputation as the more expensive habit. Why buy a 750ml bottle of Pinot when you can get six 330ml Pilsners for half the price?
The reality is that there’s plenty of wine out there that matches the value of a six pack. The trick to finding them? Avoiding name brands. Wine is a commodity, like sneakers and cars; a pair of Air Jordans would cost fractionally what it does if not for branding and marketing, and Yellowtail would be as cheap as Bud if not for the cost of that adspace in GQ. The game is name recognition. Likewise, when you pay extra for wine from a region like Chianti or Bordeaux, you’re not paying for advanced aging techniques or premium grapes — you’re paying for a bloated rent check. Lesser-known regions are using lesser-known indigenous grapes to produce unique, top-quality wines that are cheaper not because their quality is lacking, but because their vintners focus on what really matters. With help from Lauren Friel, Wine Director at Oleana in Cambridge, MA, and Matthew Conway, sommelier at Restaurant Marc Forgione, we found 10 great bottles from vintners who disregard the high shelf; at under $20, why not pair tonight’s burger with a bottle of red?
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Additional reporting by Lauren Friel.