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Life’s too short to drink bad wine, though not all that tastes great has to be expensive. In fact, quite the contrary rings true. In the realm of delicious whites, the number of tasty wines under the $20 price point is seemingly endless.
“Budget-friendly white wines have some real hidden gems in the mix, and the only way to find them is by tasting,” says Alexandra Schrecengost, CEO of Virtual With Us. Schrecengost notes that she generally looks for things with very bright palates loaded with zesty citrus flavors. Additionally, she notes that the ability to pair well with food is usually a must.
So where to begin? We’ve researched and narrowed down our favorite cheap whites for everyday sipping. All bottles listed are made from sustainably-farmed fruit and are produced at the hands of winemakers we love. Drinking well, responsibly, and affordably—sign us up! Here are the best cheap white wines to drink right now.
Best Overall: Domaine des Cognettes Sélection des Cognettes Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie
- Region: Loire Valley, France
- ABV: 12%
- Tasting Notes: Yellow Apples, White Pepper, Honeysuckle
When it comes to seeking out affordable, responsibly-made whites, look no further than France’s Loire Valley. Located west of Paris, this lush region is a hotbed for budget-friendly bottles, and Muscadet is no exception. Located along the Atlantic coast, this region is home to salty, thirst-quenching whites that always promise a good time. Domaine des Cognettes’ expression is crisp, zesty, and loaded with flavors of salty yellow apples, white pepper, and honeysuckle.
“One of my favorite go-to regions for affordable whites is Muscadet,” says Tira Johnson of Brooklyn Wine Exchange. “Made from the grape melon de Bourgogne, it is bone-dry, citrusy, and mineral-driven.” Johnson notes that although the wines can be lean and acid-driven, plenty of ‘sur-lie’ aged examples can add complexity and texture.
Read Next: The Best White Wines
Best Dry: Leitz Eins Zwei Dry Riesling
- Region: Rheingau, Germany
- ABV: 12.5%
- Tasting Notes: Lemon, Lime Blossoms, Green Apple
Forget what you thought you knew about riesling. This tasty expression from Leitz is mouthwatering, bone dry, and as good as it gets. Expect notes of lemon, lime blossoms, and green apple to lead to a lip-puckering finish. Self-proclaimed ‘acid heads,’ this one’s for you. Sip with happy hour snacks or fresh greens tossed with tangy dressing.
Best Sweet: Saracco Moscato d’Asti
- Region: Piedmont, Italy
- ABV: 5.5%
- Tasting Notes: Peaches, Apricots, Honey
On the opposite end of the spectrum, check out Saracco’s Moscato d’Asti for a pour of something pleasantly sweet. Well-balanced flavors of canned peaches, apricots, honey, and citrus zest dominate this frothy, easy-drinking wine. Serve with your favorite desserts or simply replace the course entirely with this delicious bottle.
Read Next: The Best Sweet Wines
Best for Sangria: Marqués de Riscal Blanco Verdejo
- Region: Rueda (Castilla y León), Spain
- ABV: 12.5%
- Tasting Notes: Green Apple, Melon, Honey
When making Sangria at home, be sure to choose a wine that you’d have no problem sipping solo—in other words, don’t completely sacrifice quality here. This organic verdejo is both tasty and value-driven, making it one of the best at-home Sangria choices. Flavors of green apple, fresh-cut melon, and honey promise to bring your favorite Sangria ingredients to life.
Best Sparkling: Sommariva Prosecco Superiore Brut
- Region: Veneto, Italy
- ABV: 11.5%
- Tasting Notes: Apple, Yeast, White Flowers
Sommariva Brut NV is one of the best QPR (quality-to-price ratio) sparkling wines on the market. Produced in the heart of the Veneto, this zesty bottle of bubbles jumps with flavors of tropical fruits, fresh cut apple, yeast, white flowers and biscuit. Best enjoyed at weekend brunches or after a long day at work.
“I love finding a delicious bottle of affordable wine, but I want to make sure it is affordable for the right reasons,” explains Johnson, citing fair labor practices, responsible farming methods, and additive-free vinification as musts when seeking out wine at any price point. Not sure where to begin? “Never be afraid to ask your local wine shop employee for help!” she says.
Best Sauvignon Blanc: François Chidaine Touraine Sauvignon Blanc
- Region: Loire Valley, France
- ABV: 13%
- Tasting Notes: Citrus, Gooseberries, Wet Rocks
In a sea of subpar sauvignon blanc, looking to the Loire Valley, specifically, Touraine is always a good idea. This expression is made by one of the region’s best-known producers. Expect minerally, earth-driven flavors of citrus, gooseberries, and wet rocks to reign king in this value-driven, well-made wine. Pair with raw bar favorites or a variety of fresh goat cheeses.
Read Next: The Best Sparkling Wines
Best Pinot Grigio: Elena Walch Pinot Grigio
- Region: Alto Adige, Italy
- ABV: 12.5%
- Tasting Notes: Pear Skin, Grapefruit, Wet Stones
Not all Pinot Grigio is created equal, and in fact, most of it actually isn’t that exciting. However, when produced in the right hands, these wines can be some of the most delicious and refreshing picks for affordable drinking at home. Elena Walch’s expression jumps with flavors of pear skin, wet stones, grapefruit, and fresh-cut herbs.
“There are some amazing, cost-effective wines that are affordable because of the region/country they come from, or because they’re produced with lesser-known grape varieties, or it is an entry-level wine made by a great producer,” explains Johnson.
Good to Know: For top-quality Pinot Grigio wines, looking to Italy’s Alto Adige region is generally always promising
Best Italian: Pieropan Soave Classico 2017
- Region: Soave (Veneto), Italy
- ABV: 12%
- Tasting Notes: Citrus, Pear, Smoke
Never heard of Soave before? Now’s the time to get this stuff on your radar. Produced from the garganega grape in the heart of Italy’s Veneto region, this crisp, floral-driven white jumps with yeasty flavors of citrus, pear, smoke, minerals and lime. Sip with gnocchi, risotto, and other Italian favorites.
When in doubt, Johnson suggests purchasing something new and different outside of your comfort zone. “There are so many different grapes, regions, and producers [out there]—do you really need another sauvignon blanc from New Zealand?”
Best for Happy Hour at Home: Badenhorst Chenin Blanc ‘Secateurs’
- Region: Swartland, South Africa
- ABV: 14%
- Tasting Notes: Tropical Fruit, Citrus, Honey
For white wine lovers seeking something a bit different, look no further than Badenhorst’s chenin blanc. This affordable, flavor-packed wine oozes with notes of tropical fruits, citrus, honey and grilled nuts. Fair warning, this may become your next go-to white wine.
Schrecengost notes that lately she’s been enjoying exploring less-expensive chenin blancs (specifically from South Africa), grüner veltliners, and albariños. “These are the kinds of wines that transform a weeknight meal into something a little more ceremonious.”
Read Next: The Best Gifts for Wine Lovers
Author’s Note: About Schrecengost’s Virtual With Us business: Virtual With Us saw an opportunity to fill the workplace need by building, connecting and organizing an exclusive, high-quality network of sommeliers that companies could tap into for valuable and interactive cocktail hour and offer employees the opportunity to refresh, engage, and strengthen teams as well as client/prospect relationships, while also providing much needed jobs and income to the hospitality industry that had essentially collapsed amidst the lockdowns. The Virtual With Us beverage and culinary network is an ever-expanding community of the country’s most notable hospitality talent
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Vicki Denig is a wine and travel journalist based between New York and Paris. She is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators. Her work regularly appears on Liquor.com, Wine-Searcher, VinePair and more. Denig is also the Content Manager at Volcanic Selections, Paris Wine Company, Vin Fraîche, and more.