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The 50 Best Wines Under $50

Our wine critic still managed to pop thousands of corks, despite our global troubles. And what she found are inexpensive delights whether your tastes run red, white, or rosé—and sparkling, too.

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Picking my annual 50 under $50 list was extremely difficult this year. There are more delicious value wines than ever from around the globe. And I should know: I sampled a couple thousand of them in 2020.

You can now find bargain bubbly from everywhere, including Greece, California, and South Africa. My fizz surprise of the year was the quality of bottles from Brazil. Add in the ever-expanding number of pétillant naturel wines now available, and you could enjoy a different—and good—fizz each day of the year. Experiment!

Sadly, it’s still difficult to find great Champagnes that cost less than $50 a bottle. Best bets, as always, are entry-level, nonvintage sparklers from the best big houses and especially from up-and-coming grower-producers.

The rules for finding the top red, white, and rosé values haven’t changed much. Riesling from everywhere is still undervalued as are wines made from esoteric grapes. Examples with turbiana (white) as well as parpato and susumaniello (both red) made my list this year.

Among my other discoveries were top wines from under-the-radar regions such as Lebanon and Portugal’s Alentejo. Italy proved to be a huge source of bargains. (They’re also exempt from the 25% tariffs the U.S. imposed on English, French, German, and Spanish wines last fall, which I hope will be rescinded next year.)

Bordeaux remains a bigger value region than most people think; look for second wines from the best estates, especially from the great 2016 vintage now on retail shelves.

Producers recommended in my previous 50 under $50 are still putting out great bargains, but as always, I’ve put the spotlight on new names. My final advice? Shop around, especially for Champagne. Retail prices can vary as much as $10 to $15 a bottle.

2018 Château Moulin-à-Vent Couvent des Thorins ($30)
Sadly, Beaujolais wines are not as cheap as they once were. This one is completely satisfying, smooth, and serious—it just says, “Drink me.”

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12/7/20
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The 50 Best Wines Under $50