Finding You The Best Wines Under $22
Emmanuel, Laurie, and the late Stephanie Caslot of Domaine de la Chevalerie in Bourgueil make one of my favorite wines under $20, a Cabernet Franc called "Diptyque."
The tariffs of the past few years, the rising cost of the Euro, and general inflation have been distressing to watch as a wine lover. The wines I was able to affordably access as a broke twenty-something have steadily climbed up into the $30 range. One of my central values is trying to make real wine accessible enough for people to enjoy everyday with meals and loved ones, just as you might share good bread or a favorite dish. To me, wine should complement this; not distract by standing outside a communal meal as a rarefied icon. That's harder to do when you're spending over $25 for a bottle. But on the cheaper end of things, the U.S. is still dominated by industrial wines. They're made by a shockingly small number of corporations who hide behind a wide array of brands, and made with any number of additives that weren't used in wine until the 20th century in the name of efficiency and modern food science. Meanwhile, people are realizing more and more that these cost-saving methods are just passing the buck elsewhere. Equitable employment practices and taking care of the earth is not cheap or easy.
VWM is a very tiny store, maybe 250 square feet, and though we can't offer the widest selection, I do my best to pick each wine with a lot of care and intention. I often work even harder on the least-expensive wines because it is challenging to find wines that meet my strict criteria at lower price points. But it can be done! So in that vein, I want to showcase our wines under $22, where I feel strongly that you can still find some fantastic bottles of wine, made by small wineries who fight for their livelihoods against big, industrial wine. For whatever reason, some of my favorites in this range still come from France, but there are options from all over.
I certainly didn't come to wine because I had a lot of money or access to the top wines in the world. I started out drinking Yellow Tail, Two Buck Chuck, and the finest 88-point Malbecs that BQE Wine and Liquors had to offer for under $10. I had plenty of advantages, to be fair, but my most formative experiences with wine, especially natural wine, were not expensive ones. I loved hearing how "truck drivers in France drink Cotes du Rhone," and I still love the fact that a huge number of Georgians still make their own wine. I truly love wine and especially the people I've met through this amazing and bizarre tradition of sharing spoiled grape juice with strangers that has been part of human civilization since the beginning of agrarian societies. Everyone should be able to access the pleasures that wine has been bringing to humans for the past 10,000 years.
With the end of the Trump-era tariffs, hopefully prices stabilize a bit. With some work and some luck, hopefully wages and the economic situation for everyone will improve, allowing more people to access wines made with the kind of care and respect for nature and workers that we believe in. Until then, share our love of the everyday wines that elevate our days and lives. Below are just a few of my favorites under $20.