The Best $20 Wines For Gift Giving, According To A Winemaker

A good bottle doesn’t have to break the bank.
Luis Alvarez via Getty Images

We love a good holiday party, but there’s always the burden of finding something to bring so you don’t show up empty-handed. If you’d rather not spend all of December baking batches of cookies and running out to the store for more frosting, a bottle of wine might be your best bet.

It’s easy to find cheap wine gift bags, it’s a classy gift, and it’s something everyone can share and enjoy at the party. A good bottle doesn’t have to break the bank, so we spoke with a winemaker who told us what to look for when buying wine for less than $20.

How do you tell good wine by the bottle? According to Ryan Zotovich, a winemaker with subscription wine service Winc, he says it’s important to start with your ideal price point and then consider how and when the bottle will be enjoyed.

“Whether it’s opened with friends, served for a particular occasion, or paired with a specific meal. That narrows it down to red, white, or rosé, as well as style: light and racy, medium and smooth, heavy and rich,” Zotoivch says. “With price and style in mind, I make the final selection based on price-to-quality.”

Zotoivch suggests looking for wines with lower alcohol content (under 14 percent) for most occasions, because it will be more fresh and crisp. A higher alcohol percentage will result in a rounder, jammy taste — which might be better suited for more specific pairings and palettes.

“I let varietal and what I am doing with the wine guide my decision. Am I sipping it? Sharing? Eating? Then you can use alcohol percentage as a style guide,” Zotoivch says.

A HuffPost favorite white wine is this 2017 Outer Sounds Sauvignon Blanc that’s so good, it’s almost always sold out at Winc, where’s it’s exclusively sold. And, for $14 we’re not surprised. Fortunately, the 2018 Outer Sounds Sauvignon Blanc is in stock, and only for $15.

If you’re looking for another bang for your buck that’s a bit better than a two-buck chuck, but in red, consider this $14 Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, that’s oh-so-smooth. If these don’t make you want to fill your glass, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best wines under $20 in 2018:

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Pinot Noir
Classic notes of cedar and berries make 2017 Folly of the Beast a medium, dry, and delicious treat. It also has an incredible price-to-quality ratio.

Price: $18
Pinot Grigio
Tart lemon, citrus nectarines, and marzipan give this Cavit Pinot Grigio a dry, refreshing taste. It’s also the number one Pinot Grigio in America.

Price: $17
Cabernet Sauvignon
Dark chocolate, bacon, and blackberry in this 2017 Kin & Country Cabernet Sauvignon give it a full, dry, and jammy taste.

Price: $18
Sauvignon Blanc
Tropical fruit flavors and fresh herbs make this Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2017 a crisp, citrus drink.

Price: $20
Honey, butter, and tropical fruits give this Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay 2016 a medium body and creamy texture. It’s also America’s top-selling Chardonnay.

Price: $12
Grapefruit, strawberry, and peach make this 2017 Summer Water Rosé a light, dry, and vibrant sip.

Price: $18
Apple, lemon, and honeysuckle fuel the foam in this 2017 Finke’s Sparkling White Blend that’s light, dry, and ready to pop.

Price: $13
Plum, pepper, and currant give this Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah 2015 a smoky tone.

Price: $10
Lemon, green apple, and honeysuckle in this 2017 Debts and Lessons® Riesling make it a medium, sweet, and earthy glass.

Price: $14
Apple and caramel make this Jaume Serra Cristalino Extra Dry Champagne a creamy treat

Price: $18