Top Value Wines by Grape
Just as wines from different countries and regions can have common characteristics, wines made with the world’s most popular grapes – or "varietals," in winespeak – tend to have similar aromas and flavor profiles. Wine geeks use the term “varietally correct” to mean that a pinot noir smells and tastes like other pinot noirs you’ve had – delicate red fruit flavors of bing cherry and/or strawberry – and chardonnay tastes like chardonnay, etc. Most countries have laws that dictate that wine labeled with a particular grape must contain 75 to 85 percent juice from that grape. So if you like good white Burgandy, you might also enjoy a well-made California or Australian chardonnay. And if you like Australian Shiraz, you might also like wines from France’s Rhone Valley.
Top 5 Pinot Noirs
Spanish reds, Spanish whites, French whites, French reds were the low-hanging fruit. Chardonnay was hard to narrow down to five (which is why it’s actually a Top 10). But pinot noir – the wine grape immortalized and made über-fashionable by the 2004 movie, Sideways.
Value pinot noir is not the oxymoron in once was. But it’s still been a struggle finding five wines that meet the Wine for the Rest of Us criteria for consistency, value and wide availability across the entire Washington area.
Top 5 Cabernet Sauvignons
Cabernet sauvignon is often referred to as the king of red wine grapes, made famous in its ancestral home of France as the dominant grape in many of the world-renowned (and outrageously expensive) red wines of Bordeaux. But Bordeaux reds are typically blends of cabernet with merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot and to a lesser extent malbec and carménère. Cabernet from California’s Napa Valley is what many wine drinkers think of as the epitome of the grape.
But much like California chardonnay, Napa cabernet is typically much too expensive for everyday wine drinking. So our go-to cabernets are from other parts of California, Washington state or south of the border.
Top 5 Red Blends
Top 5 Chardonnays
Though chardonnay is arguably the most popular wine in the country, our Top 5 Value Chardonnays has been a challenge (which is why it’s actually a Top 10).
There’s a broad range of styles made from the chardonnay grape. On one end are the crisper, apple-pear, mineral-tinged Old World chardonnays made famous in the grape’s ancestral home of Burgundy, France. And at the extreme opposite end are the big, lush, oaky-buttery wines made in California and popular with so many white wine drinkers. Our Top 5 Values attempts to span the style spectrum.
Top 5 Sauvignon Blancs
Top 5 White Blends