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Cheap White Wine
If you think cheap white wine is only for grandma's spritzer, think again. Like its rouge counterparts, cheap white wines are earning a reputation as a reputable drink on their own. They complement lighter foods, brighten up a lazy summer afternoon, and make an excellent substitute for that pre-dinner cocktail. White wines typically present fruity and/or floral flavors and aromas, sometimes offer a bit of spice, and range in sugar content from bone dry to dessert-level sweetness. There's a cheap white wine -- one costing no more than $10 -- to satisfy almost anyone's palate.
Cheap White Wines Buying Guide
We primarily confined our search for the best cheap white wines to those in the dry corner of the shelf. Our list is a small but representative sample of budget wines produced in the major white-wine producing regions of the world.
From among that group we then made a few choice selections. At the very top of our list of cheap white wines we've placed J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay 2012 (starting at $9, Wine.com), a crisp and flavorful wine that contains notes of fruit and oak and tastes far more pricey than its actual cost, and Geyser Peak Pinot Grigio 2012 (starting at $8, Wine.com) for its dry citrus flavors and smooth tastiness. In the second-place spot is a very light summer drink, Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde 2012 (starting at $8, Wine.com), which presents flavors of lemon and grapefruit and is a bit fizzy. One budget white wine that falls into the cast-off basket: Tisdale Chardonnay (starting at $3, Wine-Searcher.com) is everything that a white should not be -- light but with an acidic linger and sour undertaste. In addition to our favorites, the other entry-level white wines discussed below also score with reviewers for their drinkability and value pricing.
White wine is lighter and less complex than red, and generally considered a good option for newbie wine drinkers. Veterans also find plenty to enjoy in a good cheap white wine. The tannins are relatively muted, making for a drink that's unlikely to cause the drying or puckering in the mouth that's sometimes experienced with red wines. White wines are less likely to leave you with a headache and the dry varieties in particular have slightly fewer calories per glass than red. A glass of white wine is also quite refreshing -- it's always served chilled. Indeed, you might even discover that you really prefer the budget bottles.
The most common white wine grapes include Chardonnay, Chenin blanc, Gewurztraminer, Pinot gris (a.k.a. Pinot grigio), Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Torrontes, and Viognier. White wine grapes grow in the U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America, South Africa, and several eastern Mediterranean countries. Wines produced in the U.S. bear labels that note the specific grape or blend of grapes used in making the wine. Wines from Italy and France, by contrast, have labels that place the growing region front and center rather than the grape; white Bordeaux, for example, may contain a mix of Sauvignon blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle grapes while Pouilly-Fuisse is made with Chardonnay grapes. A wine made entirely (or nearly so) with one grape variety is referred to as a "varietal."Back to top »
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