Five wines for $20 or less

Riesling (Photo credit: J. Star)

Even though we may live in the Napa Valley of beer, it’s always refreshing to surprise your senses with a different ensemble of flavors and aromas. Below are a variety of wines—two whites, two reds, and a sparkling—that won’t leave your wallet in pain while pleasing your palate. Prices are given as averages since it will vary among retailers and vintage of the wine.

Cloudy Bay Late Harvest Riesling


Average Price: $20

Origin: Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand

Pair with: Asian and Indian cuisine, chicken, seafood and pork.

I’ve drank Rieslings on the Rhine in Germany, and this white wine from New Zealand is definitely a contender. Extremely sweet and fruity, one can taste the flavors of light,  green apple, citrus, honey, melon and peaches. However, the fruit is not overwhelming. It’s still remarkably crisp, refreshing and cool.

Barone Fini Pinot Grigio

Average Price: $11

Origin: Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy

Pair with: Chicken, pasta, salad and fish.

The opposite of the Riesling, this white wine is very dry and crisp. However, there is a slight lemon citrus finish at the end of a sip. Being so light and easy to drink, the Pinot Grigio is an all-season choice for a variety of dishes.

Catena Malbec


Average Price: $20

Origin: Mendoza, Argentina

Pair with: Game, mushrooms, short ribs, venison.

Unexpectedly sweet for this style, Catena’s Malbec is full-bodied and robust. It has a strong berry smell which leads to earthy flavors of blackberries, dark chocolate and notes of anise. High tannins give this red a rich and velvety texture. This wine and the Riesling are my personal favorites on the list.

Trinity Oaks Merlot

Average Price: $8

Origin: California

Pair with: Beef, duck, lamb and sausages.

To complement the Malbec, the second red wine is very dry and raw. Tart flavors of red and black cherries, plums and vanilla hit the palate immediately. A medium amount of tannins makes it a bit viscous. Rather than having a clean finish, grape alcohol flavor lingers on back of throat.

La Marca Prosecco

Average Price: $13

Origin: Veneto, Italy

Pair with: Fried foods, eggs, prosciutto and melon, bruschetta and antipasto.

Do not get this sparkling wine confused with Champagne. To be called as such, the grapes must be grown in the Champagne region of France. Because of this, Proscecco is a cheaper, but just as delicious, substitute. This dry wine has very little scent, but prominent almond, apple, pear, apricots, and other fruity flavors. Add a splash of peach juice and you’ve made yourself a Bellini! The light bubbles are sure to lift your mood.

Collegian Entertainment Reporter Jefferson Geiger can be reached at