A few years ago, we wrote a blog post about our Top 20 Wines Under $30. As winter approaches, the pandemic continues, and we wait to be able to travel to Europe again, it seems like a really good time to update our list of great, reasonably priced wines! You just may want to stock up to bring some extra joy to the next few months.
Our wine cellar, which we passionately filled when we were still in Texas, and carefully moved to my parents’ basement in Ohio when we sold our home in 2017, is quickly becoming depleted as we have been visiting here more frequently this year. And when I say depleted, I really mean that the affordable wines are mostly gone. We have so many wines that we adore in this under $30 price point and we enjoy them eagerly, allowing the more expensive bottles to “lay down” until they are ready, or for a special occasion. We clearly need to restock in the under $30 category, so this research will be good for us – and, we hope, for you!
It’s a good idea to do some cost comparisons when looking for your wine. We are big advocates of wine.com. They have a great selection, good prices, and the Stewardship Program, that allows free standard shipping for $49 a year. It’s a great deal and we highly recommend it. Costco also has good prices on wine. It helps to know what you are looking for, so the list here should be helpful. Not every bottle will be available at Costco, but some of them likely will be, and you can get some good deals. Also, if you happen to be at Costco when the wine stocker is there, it’s likely he or she will be able to tell you about the wines and give you some good recommendations.
You probably have a larger wine, beer and liquor store near you, and it helps to do keep an eye out on their specials, comparison shop, and get to know your favorite employee, who can keep you up to date on recommendations and what will be coming in soon. Ask that person about the wines on this list and see what they say! Find out if there will be special pricing on any of them soon. You never know what information they may be able to give you. Making friends with the wine specialist is a really good idea! Tell them what you like, what you’re looking for, and the price you want to pay. We can personally recommend Spec’s, Total Wine, and Binny’s.
We have enjoyed a lot of fabulous European wine over the past several years since we have been traveling through Europe, working at a winery in Piedmont, leading small group trips, and making many wine-oriented friends, so a lot of our favorites are from Europe. But we did not want to limit our list to only European wines, so you’ll see some great choices from other fabulous wine regions around the world, too.
OUR Best Red Wines Under $30
A solid, expressive California Cab. More complex and nuanced than your typical grocery store cabernet with layers of berries, chocolate, and herbs, Decoy is a winner every time.
Washington State is home to some of the best value wines available anywhere. Columbia Crest’s portfolio is outstanding from top to bottom and their Horse Heaven Hills (H3) delivers with everything you want in a cabernet sauvignon – rich full body, dark fruits, and velvety tannins.
If you are wondering what all the hype is about Pinot Noir, this is a great place to start. Joseph Wagner, who was responsible for incredibly popular Meiomi (also a very good Pinot) before he sold it a few years back, is the creative mind behind this Oregon production. With flavors of cherries, cola, and spices, this is a great wine with food, or drinking while sitting around a fire in the backyard.
The Barbera grape is known for its bright fruit flavors and mouth-watering acidity making it a perfect wine to pair with almost any food. Vietti’s Tre Vigne is the perfect bottle to get to know this grape better. And at about $16 this is a great value and a super wine.
If you are looking for a big, rich, full-bodied red wine, give Zinfandel a try. The Seghesio family first came to California from Italy in the late 1800’s and began making wine in Sonoma Valley. This is a perfect wine to drink on a cold winter’s night!
A blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Carignon, this French wine is a crowd pleaser. Lush ripe fruits and a hint of earthiness make this a favorite for all occasions.
Our pick for an Australian Shiraz. This may be a little harder to find but worth the hunt. While some Aussie wines can be a little “jammy” for our taste, Torbreck’s wines are consistently balanced and complex.
Spanish wines are always a place to look for big wines at a great value and Muga is no exception. Black fruits, leather, and licorice pair well with grilled meats and charcuterie.
This is a wonderful introduction to my favorite grape, Nebbiolo, the fruit behind Italy’s famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines. This Langhe Nebbiolo is not as big and complex as those wines but it still provides a great balance of acidity and tannins, bright red fruits, and spices.
Sangiovese is the workhorse Italian grape. Found in everything from cheap Chianti to Brunello and Super Tuscans costing hundreds of dollars a bottle. This Chianti Classico from the heart of the Tuscany region offers tart red fruit with nice minerality and light oak flavors.
OUR Best White Wines Under $30
From the mind of rebel wine-maker Charles Smith comes this highly acidic Riesling that pairs perfectly with spicy Asian food. Don’t let the label or the low price fool you, this is a seriously good wine.
If you still think Riesling is a sickeningly sweet wine that comes in a blue bottle, think again. This wine comes from the Mosel Valley in Germany and although it does have a moderate level of residual sugar, the high acidity balances it perfectly, making this a great wine to pair with many meals.
A great example of a California Sauvignon Blanc done right. From their website, “Clean, fresh, minerally… a transparent view into the soils of Rutherford.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
To contrast the Frog’s Leap above, try this offering from New Zealand. With more tropical fruits and herbaceous notes, this is a consistently popular bottle.
This is a beautifully crafted California Chardonnay. With hints of citrus and stone fruits balanced by acidity and minerality, this is Cali Chard done right.
For a more classic take on Chardonnay, try Jadot’s Pouilly-Fuisse from Burgundy. Very crisp and clean with floral aromas and fresh apples on the palate. Imagine yourself in France as you sip on a glass of this lovely wine.
If you are celebrating a special occasion, look no further than this wonderful sparkling from California. Made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, it features a depth of flavors including citrus, pears, biscuits, and toast in a style consistent with the maker’s Champagne roots.
What a fun summer wine! A relatively unknown grape in the US, this Australian wine is crisp with hints of citrus, green apple, pepper, and minerality. And it comes in a one litre bottle!
Another perfect summer wine, this time from Portugal. These wines are made by picking the grapes before they are fully ripe producing a highly acidic, low alcohol wine. It is also great for cooking when you want to add a splash of brightness to a dish.
Pinot Gris (French), or Pinot Grigio (Italian), has become very popular in the US, but I find many of them lacking in character. However, Joel Gott from Oregon makes a more complex Pinot Gris that reminds me of some from Alsace I’ve tasted. It is easy to drink and pairs well with seafood and cheeses.
What is your favorite wine to share? Would you like a suggestion on a wine for a special occasion? Want to visit a famous wine region? Let us know, we love to talk wine.
We are here for your custom trip planning to Italy, France, Ireland, the UK and all of Europe. We are experts in creating custom travel itineraries and leading small group trips to European destinations. We also book European cruises! Feel free to reach out via email — We’re always available to talk about travel!
We can also help with trips in the US while we wait for Europe to open up. We’ve traveled extensively throughout the US and visited many of our National Parks as well as wine regions, major cities, and tourist destinations. We just love to help people travel!
Greg Ball – Greg is co-founder and partner of Euro Travel Coach (ETC), which crafts custom European vacations for independent travelers and leads small group tours to Europe. In his previous life he taught Woodwinds and Jazz at the university level for 30 years. As a professor he took his bands to England, Ireland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, and England. Since “retiring” he and his wife/ETC co-founder Betsy travel Europe nine months out of the year. Together they have visited over 40 countries and counting! He loves cooking, hiking, listening and playing music, and wine and holds a Level 3 certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust.
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