Best Cheap White Wines
$2 - $10Cheapism
$10 - $25Mid-Range
$25 and upHigh End
- Published on
- By Elizabeth Sheer
If you think cheap white wine is only for grandma's spritzer, think again. There's a cheap white wine -- a bottle costing no more than $10 -- to satisfy almost anyone's palate. Inexpensive white wines can complement lighter foods, brighten up a lazy summer afternoon, and make an excellent substitute for pre-dinner cocktails. 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.
Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Review
This ultra-refreshing sauvignon blanc from Chile is the quintessential quaffer -- in other words, it goes down easily, offering tart yet ripe fruit flavors.
Indaba Chenin Blanc 2013 Review
This chenin blanc from South Africa is an ideal wine for those who love rich, full-bodied, buttery whites. It delivers a lot of flavor and texture for its modest price.
Bandit Pinot Grigio Review
This non-vintage California wine is clean and minerally. It comes in a 1-liter Tetra Pak, which holds 25 percent more wine than a normal bottle.
Big House White Review
This blend from California displays relatively complex floral and tropical fruit undertones for frugal wine drinkers with slightly exotic tastes.
Tisdale Chardonnay Review
Even avowed cheap wine lovers turn up their noses at this ultra-low-cost California chardonnay, finding it acidic and just plain "awful." Contrarians consider it drinkable if sufficiently cold.
Barefoot Riesling Review
Rieslings can be a bit syrupy, and this one clobbered our tasting panel with its sweetness. Their primary complaint was that this riesling doesn't taste like wine.
Cheap White Wine Buying Guide
We've spoken with experts and wine vendors, read reviews, and held tastings to round up cheap white wines that achieve a certain level of quality. Cheapism's resident wine expert, Tess Rose Lampert, compiled this year's final list. A New York City-based wine and spirit educator and judge, she has encountered hundreds of wines in her experience working with Ultimate Beverage Challenge and selling and purchasing for restaurants and stores.
Her favorite white wines under $10 are Indaba 2013 Chenin Blanc from South Africa (starting at $9) and Cono Sur 2013 Sauvignon Blanc from Chile (starting at $9). On the second tier sit Bandit Pinot Grigio from California (starting at $9) and Big House White, a blend from California (starting at $9.50).
Because wine inventories vary from vendor to vendor, we've fleshed out the top picks to include a dozen appealing and low-priced white wines. This should increase the chance that at least one of the featured bottles will be available at a local wine shop (consult Wine-Searcher) or online, although shipping can double the total price. These wines are good values and should be enjoyed while relatively young; low-cost white wines don't benefit from aging. While large producers strive for consistency, the quality of a given wine can vary from year to year, so be sure to note the vintage (the year of production). The wines are discussed in alphabetical order by grape variety below. The listed prices do not include taxes and vary based on where you buy.
White wine grapes grow in the United States, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America, South Africa, and several eastern Mediterranean countries. Wines produced in the U.S. tend to bear labels that note the specific grape or blend of grapes used in making them. Wines from Italy and France, by contrast, have labels that place the growing region front and center rather than the grape. We've supplied information including grape variety, region, brand name, and vintage to make these wines easier to find.
It's a safe bet that for less than $10 you can enjoy a rounded, full-flavored chardonnay. Our pick for best cheap chardonnay is the Indaba 2013 from South Africa (starting at $8). The rich and rounded wine is dry yet full of ripe citrus flavors with hints of floral aromas and a touch of oak that enhances the natural butteriness without overwhelming the fruit.
Budget chardonnay can be less than exemplary, however. Tisdale Chardonnay (starting at $3.50) is a case in point. Naysayers deem this California wine barely drinkable, with an acidic finish, unpleasant aftertaste, and off-putting smell. Save your money, caution reviewers on the wine site Snooth. Others argue that the wine is quite refreshing if served cold enough.
Our best budget example by far comes from the value-driven South African brand Indaba. The 2013 chenin blanc (starting at $9) is a dry yet floral wine that features flavors such as apricot, cardamom, and lemon.
Some experts assert that it's close to impossible to get a good riesling for less than $10. Take Barefoot Riesling (starting at $5). It has hardly any fruit flavors; it's just sweet -- really sweet, as described on the wine and spirits blog SourMashed. One of our tasters suggested it might be fit for sangria, with no added sugar. A much better option is Washington Hills Late Harvest Riesling 2013 (starting at $8). It's a semi-dry wine from Washington state with flavors of apricot and peach.The New York Times.
Vinho verde wines are low in alcohol and most definitely a summer drink. Because of their newness, the vintage that was reviewed last summer probably won't be the one you find next summer. Vinho verde wines should be drunk within about a year of bottling. Perhaps the most important feature of vinho verde is that just about every bottle sells for less than $10, because the wine spends little time aging. It pairs well with light, summery meals of fish, salad, or sushi.
The 2013 Vera Vinho Verde (starting at $8) is a light, fresh, mouthwatering wine that enjoys a perch on our list of top budget whites. A roundup at Shape names it best in class, giving a shout-out to the lime and pink-grapefruit aromas and slightly bubbly mouth feel.