First, let’s deal with some of the questions that have been bothering us about cheap white wine.
Why are the best cheap white wines generally less expensive than red wines?
Answer: White wine spends less or no time aging in the barrel, so its yield is faster than red wine. Plus, winemakers don’t have to pay for a barrel, explains Nick Elliott, a former winemaker from San Diego, California.
Elliott says an oak barrel can cost up to $1,500. One barrel holds 60 gallons of wine, which is 25 boxes with 12 bottles in a case. The cost of that barrel is then divided by 300 bottles of wine, depending on how often that barrel has been used over the years. Most wineries will not use a barrel more than three or four times.
Next: Do Wines With Screwed Tops Indicate That The Wine Is Bad?
Answer: The short answer is “no,” but it can be perceived this way, Elliott explains. Winemakers choose cork over screws for wines that require aging. So you’ll usually find cork on red wine, but sometimes it’s white and mostly in the case of Chardonnay.
“Natural corks allow wine to breathe, allowing oxygen and other gases to come in and oxygen and other gases to come in,” he says. “You generally won’t find a screw cap on a bottle that needs to sit for a while before enjoying.
Also, cork is a natural product and can develop a chemical that “contaminates” the wine. This is where the phrase “cork wine” comes from, meaning that the wine has an unpleasant taste. Screw heads, long thought to be a symbol of rotting gut wine, can be made to “breathe” just like cork.
Finally: Many people think of white wine as just a summertime drink. Is this correct?
Answer: A refreshing glass of crisp white wine in summer is great and has a thirst-quenching quality, says Elliott. “But for me, all wines are meant to be paired with food,” he says. “So, if a dish calls for it, it’s white wine, even in the coldest winter.”
If the recipe calls for dry white, you can’t go wrong with sauvignon blanc. Stay away from cooking with oak chardonnay as it will bring that woody flavor to your food.
Best cheap bottles of white wine under $10
These are 13 year-round slippers that go well with food and are also good enough to drink on their own. Put this cheap white wine on your shopping list. As we list the sources online, you may be able to find this white wine on the shelves of your favorite store.
best bottle: Bogle Chardonnay
Taste: Vanilla, nutmeg, and guava are just some of the flavors you will get to taste when you drink this crisp wine. Bogle, who has been making wine for 50 years in Northern California, was named American Winery of the Year in 2019 Wine lovers magazine.
Pair it with: White fish such as shelled grouper or oysters alone or in a creamy sauce over pasta.
price: $7.97 at Total Wine
If you like Chardonnay…
best bottle: Yalumba “Y” Viognier
Taste: From the south of France, viognier (pronounced vee-oh-NYAH) has a bold, chardonnay-like taste. But viognier tends to be less acidic and lighter. It has fruity flavors (such as mandarin, mango, and honeysuckle) as well as vanilla and cloves.
Pair it with: Like Chardonnay, you can pair Viognier with seafood dishes. It goes well with the chicken. Open a bottle to go eat Chinese food.
price: $9.99 at Total Wine
best bottle: Barino Rims
Taste: This is another bold white wine made from grapes grown in northwestern Spain and northwestern Portugal. It is a light, dry wine, with base flavors of Meyer lemon, honey dew, nectarine and grapefruit. The hints of lemon will remind you of Chardonnay, as it is very refreshing and crisp.
Pair it with: Seafood and chicken dishes of course. Pour a cup with any Greek dish loaded with feta cheese, including the baked feta dish found all over TikTok.
price: $10 at Total Wine
best bottle: Reef Pinot Grigio 2020
Taste: Harvested in the countryside of the northeastern Italian Alps, Greg Albenot’s grapes are a goblet of lime, honeysuckle, ripe melon and pear with a faint note of honey.
Pair it with: Fresh, light foods such as salads, seafood or chicken. It’s a great happy hour to accompany a batch of creamy burrata and crunchy crostini.
price: $9.99 at Binny’s
If you like Pinot Grigio…
best bottle: Ostermann Muscadette 2019
Taste: From the French Loire Valley, Muscadet has a very light and dry body. It has hints of green apple, and has more acidity than Pinot Grigio. This release is a collaboration between two French winemakers and a wine importer in Charleston, South Carolina, and the 2019 vintage is Oysterman Muscadet’s first year.
Pair it with: Oysters any way you can get them or even with a big bowl of mussels in (more) white wine sauce. Also goes well with goat cheese and basil pesto.
price: $10.99 at Binnys (okay, over 99 cents)
best bottle: Hugh Riesling 2018
Taste: Bright, sweet apricot, citrus, tangerine. Hogg has been making wine in the Columbia Valley in Washington state since 1982. The Hogg family had been cultivating in the fertile area for many years before they grew their first wine grapes: six acres of Riesling.
Pair it with: Cheese, boiled bears, sweets, nuts. Since the grapes originate in the Rhine region of Germany, consider serving them with pork chops or other regional meat dishes.
price: $9.99 at Wine.com
If you like Riesling…
best bottle: Sustainable Releaf Chenin Blanc
Taste: Cultivated from organic grapes in the Western Cape, South Africa, this chenin blanc is a bright tropical fruit. Sales proceeds go to support the nursery there. This same grape is often bottled as the wine called Vouvray.
Pair it with: Reach for this bottle of wine to serve with vegetarian dishes like roasted cauliflower. It’s also a popular wine for the Thanksgiving table, cutting the weight of the meal.
price: $9.99 at Total Wine
best bottle: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
Taste: This wine originated in the Bordeaux region of France but is now produced all over the world, including New Zealand, home of Kim Crawford’s vast wine empire. Sauvignon blanc often makes lists of the world’s most popular wines, due to its highly compatible taste, whether fruity or herbal, and even spicy.
Pair it with: Fish, salads or dishes from all over the Asian continent, including Shrimp Pad Thai. Have it at home or take it outside.
price: $8.99 at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits
If you like Sauvignon Blanc…
best bottle: Marques de Riscal Blanco Rueda 2019
Taste: A light Spanish white wine contains the flavors of lemon, grapefruit, fennel, and lime. It improves with age, and has more size and weight than sauvignon blanc.
Pair it with: Anything that contains citrus like lemon or ham tacos. Even better, Pasteur’s tacos made with grilled pineapple.
price: $8 at Wines.com
best bottle: Floriana Gruner Feltliner
Taste: Gruner Veltliner is an Austrian wine but this version is produced in Hungary. It’s a dry white with notes of apple and citrus, and while it’s gentle with food, it’s also a good puree.
Pair it with: Almost anything but lemon-based dishes like roasted asparagus topped with lemon peel and lemon wedges. Try it with Chinese Lemon Chicken that has other strong flavors including honey and soy sauce.
price: $9.99 in bottles and cases
best bottle: Chateau St. Michael Gewurztraminer
Taste: Produced in the Alsace region of France for centuries, gewurztraminer is rich in natural sugar, the taste of lychee, passion fruit and flowers. It is closely related to Germany, which occupied Alsace until the end of World War I. This version is made in Washington State.
Pair it with: Grapes pay little attention to geographical history, and indeed, Gewurztraminer favorites do not play with the cuisine. It goes well with French and German specialties, especially anything with muenster cheese, but is also delicious with Chinese and Indian fare, including chicken biryani.
price: $8.99 at Binnys
If you like Gewurztraminer…
best bottle: Barefoot Moscato
Taste: Sweet Italian wine has a low alcohol content and great fizz. It’s less lychee, more honeysuckle than Gewurztraminer but both are on the sweeter side. Barefoot is a California winemaker that produces some of the most economical wines on the market. They’ve won awards, too.
Pair it with: Moscato stands up to pork, chicken, duck, or shrimp. But we consider it a festive Christmas wine because it goes well with spices like ginger, basil, cloves and cinnamon. Maybe on Christmas Eve with a piece of old gingerbread.
price: $5.99 at Target
best bottle: chandon california rosoe
Taste: It is similar to bright red, but much brighter and more fragile. It tends to include strawberry, raspberry and cherry flavors. Chandon is one of the most prolific winemakers in the Napa Valley.
Pair it with: While rosé goes well with gingerbread, it’s also a good accompaniment to any salmon dish, including roasted salmon, almond salad, and roasted parsley. It also plays well with a charcuterie board filled with salty meats and cheeses.
price: $6.99 at Binnys
Contributing Penny Hoarder Danielle Braff is a Chicago writer who specializes in consumer goods and budget shopping. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Real Simple, and more.