The Quest For The Best Under $22

The Quest For The Best Under $22

15% our favorite everyday wines

Inexpensive wines for everyday drinking: a concept that should ennoble human societies, if you take my word for it, anyways. If not for industrial wine and aggressive chemical farming, it would be pretty straightforward to find such wines. Most of us don't have the attention or disposable income to have transcendent experiences with fermented grape juice on a Wednesday evening. By the same token we don't want to risk feeling groggy after just a glass or two from any of the 75 or so additives that can be anonymously added to conventional wine. I firmly believe you can find good wine at any price, it just takes a lot more work on the lower extremes. More corners are cut, and more flashy labels are employed to throw you off. It takes time and energy to successfully navigate through the minefield of inexpensive bottles out there with any success.

If I provide any service to humankind, maybe it is to do the work of sifting through the seas of cheap wine and finding the pearls. I mean, it's not the worst job but some of that stuff is real %*#!, let me tell you. With our limited space, however, it's easier to say no, and what I do pick for the shelves below $22 is scrutinized to a degree that is borderline neurotic. At the moment I feel really good about the sheer range of styles covered. To bring some attention to it and give our loyal readers a bonus, they are all 15% off for pickup orders until the end of the month with the code UNDER22PICKUP.

Being a small shop with a very specific selection, I know how intimidating we must feel to first-time visitors. It may not always be that apparent, but we do dedicate a lot of shelf space to wines from $12-22. We aren't beholden to the most obvious choices, the most familiar regions, or the most recognizable grapes, because we typically have a conversation with every customer. I'm so grateful for my patient colleagues who can carefully help others through our somewhat confusing curation and hand them a bottle that is anything but confusing when they pour a glass later at home.

Below are some of my personal favorites at the moment, though it's hard to pick just a few. Not the most obvious picks but that's the whole game. Insider tips, if you will.



Jonathan Kemp

Image of Pepiere
Pepiere "Clos des Briords" Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie 2020


Few regions can compete with Muscadet for value. This is a limited, single vineyard wine for only $21 and it continues to blow me away year after year. Briords shows how brilliant Melon de Bourgogne can be: zesty citrus, crushed oyster shell, and dazzling, elegant detail. Subtle, vibrant, and ageworthy, this is an impressive wine at any price.

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Image of Normanno
Normanno "Ciello Bianco" Catarratto Terre Siciliane 2020


Cloudy and refreshing Sicilian Catarratto, it's made with help from Eric Narioo of Vino di Anna, one of our favorite Sicilian producers. Salty but still lively, it's an everyday wine with a lot of soul and character. There's a touch of skin contact but it's not full-on orange. Versatile, golden, and crunchy.

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Image of Aoton
Aoton "Lola" Retsina Rose 2018


This is easily one of the most wild, distinctive wines I've come across under $20. Forget what you may know about retsina, the Greek wine with pine resin. This is a rare, rosé version made from Mandilaria and a little Cabernet Sauvignon in Attica, and it is truly in a category by itself. Trust me, this is soooo geeky but it's also really tasty. It kind of tastes like Campari, with medicinal orange and minty herbal notes. Treat it like a light red or a dark rosé, it will pair with a lot of rich food or be an utterly unique park sipper.

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Image of La Grange Aux Belles Grolleau Noir 2021
La Grange Aux Belles Grolleau Noir 2021


Grange aux Belles was on the early side of natural winemaking in Anjou, starting back in 2003, and they are still one of my favorites. This Grolleau is made 'primeur' style, and it is as juicy, primal, and crushable as they come. There are some lavender and blueberry notes but honestly this is going to be guzzled so fast who can say for sure? Chill it and pour it in a pint glass, you know you want to.

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Image of Roterfaden and Rosswag
Roterfaden and Rosswag "Terraces" Vineyard Project 002 2020


A silky, dry, and dusty red with ripe fruits (mulberry, red cherry), fresh sage, strawberry leaf, tomato vine, and pink peppercorns. The finish is finessed and firm with bitter herbs and tea-like spices. It is a youthful & complex red that comes in at a gentle price. Even better, it's a project that seeks to restore abandoned vineyards. This is a steep, beautiful, and difficult vineyard to work, made up of Lemberger, Trollinger, Regent, and Schwarzriesling (aka Pinot Meunier). Hannes Hoffmann and Olympia Samara, the winemakers/owners of Weingut Roterfaden have brought their experience with organic and Biodynamic farming to help the Rosswag cooperative in Swabia consider more sustainable farming practices.

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Image of Pheasant's Tears Saperavi 2020
Pheasant's Tears Saperavi 2020


Pheasant's Tears is a standard-bearer of authentically rustic Georgian 'qvevri' wines. The 2020 vintage is the most elegant and lovely vintage I've had. Less funk, more nuance. This Saperavi is closer to a bright, crunchy Carignan than it is to many of the black, tooth-staining, 15%-abv Saperavis that are more common in Georgia. At only 12% it's herbaceous, finessed, and earthy, with blackberry, cranberry, pomegranate, and deep, feral notes. Regardless of whether you've had Saperavi or Pheasant's Tears before, this vintage will expand your opinion of both. I've tasted this several times now and I'm all about it.

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