Cheap wine, like cheap eats, is a relative idea. Each of us has our own notions of cost, worth, and value, and it's no different when it comes to wine and food. While there are some people who don't think twice about spending $50 on a bottle of wine, the vast majority of the population would decry such lunacy. As many Atlanta wine retailers will tell you, the average wine drinker is comfortable spending between $15 and $25 on a bottle of wine at retail.
While that price range is apparently a sweet spot for the wine buying public around Atlanta, most people would love to spend even less, yet still get a quality wine-drinking experience. In coordination with Cheap Eats Week, we asked several local wine industry experts for recommendations of wines that are interesting, well-crafted, and perhaps most importantly, won't break the bank.
Stuart White, Lusca sommelier and beverage director
Jean-Francois Merieau Touraine Rosé: $10
If you sip this rosé with your eyes closed, you may think you're drinking a strawberry margarita. It has the taste of delicate red fruit and mouthwatering acidity followed by fresh herbs and finished with a smack of white pepper. It is made from the Pineau d'Aunis grape, an ancient grape variety native to the Loire Valley. This rosé is an ideal picnic wine and will pair nicely with a variety of foods, including salads, pastas, fish, cured meats, and patés.
Domaine de la Fruitiere Les Vignes Blanches: $11
The white wine over-delivers in quality. The taste is crisp, clean, and mineral-driven, with aromatics of dried fruit and almonds. This wine is a blend of Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet), with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Folle Blanche. Because of its high acidity, this super thirst-quenching white makes an ideal aperitif to prep the palate and spark the appetite.
Anthony Yambor, PH Wine Merchant
2014 Domaine de la Janasse Rose, IGP Principaute d'Orange: $13.99 per bottle/$12 per bottle by the case
This dry rosé is made by Chateauneuf du Pape's Sabon family. Often overlooked due to its modest price tag, this is a blend of 35 percent Grenache, 35 percent Syrah, and 30 percent Mourvedre. Rose petal, kiwi, and zesty citrus fruit aromas lead to a clean refreshing palate where flavors of tangy blood orange, cherry pit, and a background spice note are carried along a sleek texture. At under $15, you can gulp this down with friends and neighbors guilt-free.
NV Bedrock Shebang Ninth Cuvee: $14.99 per bottle/$13 per bottle by the case
This throwback red is a Zinfandel-based blend from Bedrock, one of California's great Zin and Rhone-style red producers. Versatile with a variety of cuisines and delicious on its own, this is a great red value from California. On the palate, this has a round, supple texture without being heavy; ripe fruit flavors with accents of cracked pepper, cedar, and graphite are delicious and well-balanced.
Herb Chereck, Decatur Package Store
Les Costes Cotes du Rhone Rosé: $9.99
My number one selling rosé. They achieve that perfect balance between fruit and acidity consistently each vintage.
Domaine de la Fruitiere Vignes Blanches: $10.99
This esoteric Loire white is a blend of three grapes: Chardonnay, Melon, and Sauvignon. It's an antidote for a hot summer day — pure tangerine, melon, and nectarine fruit with great acidity for balance.
Sarah Pierre, 3 Parks Wine Shop
2014 Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois Rosé de Pinot Noir: $14
This dry, refreshing Pinot Noir Rosé has been my summer favorite this year. The minerality in the wine is definitely apparent. It's light on the palate with a pop of strawberry and a touch of spice.
2012 Bodegas Franco Españolas Royal: $11.99
One hundred percent Viura — it's an aromatic white with lots of green apple, citrus, and lemon zest. Crisp, dry, and always a great food pairing.
2013 Paul Mas Claude Val Blanc: $9.99
Always reliable. A blend of Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Chenin Blanc, Chasan, Mauzac, Sauvignon Blanc — the kitchen sink from the south of France. Ridiculously easy drinking, slightly tropical, and vibrant, it's exactly what you want to drink on a Tuesday night.
Melissa Davis, Former Cakes & Ale sommelier
2013 Andi Knauss Trollinger from Württemberg, Germany: $19 for 1 liter
Andi Knauss is a young, completely natural, and enthusiastic winemaker. He took over this generations-old estate with the intention of growing some pretty outrageous grapes. The red Trollinger grape is super fresh, so full of life. It's got enough grip for pretty much everyone's enjoyment, but enough acid to find itself poolside or beachside, wherever your summer may lead you. I think that finding good summer reds doesn't have to resemble pulling teeth, and I love this wine for summer nights.
2013 Les Sablonnettes Le P'tit Blanc Chenin Blanc Sec $18
This wine is so inviting: It's lively and fresh, hearty enough to stand up to a dinner party, and coquettish enough to drink it all by itself. With bright acid and hints of wild flower, this biodynamic beauty is the epitome of a bright summer day watching baseball for me.
Eric Brown, Le Caveau Fine Wines
2014 Guillaume Alliés Charisse Picpoul de Pinet: $12.99
One hundred percent Picpoul. Picpoul is always a value-priced white wine, but this is the most elegant one we have come across in a long time. Charisse is single vineyard Picpoul from Marion and Guillaume Alliés of Domaine Reine Juliette in the Languedoc-Roussillon. This white wine has a soft, delicate nose and a fresh palate with excellent acid-structure balance that will neutralize the salt and iodine in shellfish or crustaceans, but is also great with rich cheese, or Croquettes de Brandade, a Languedoc specialty based on a purée of salt cod, potato, and olive oil.
2013 Hermanos de Peciña Rioja: $13.99
Ninety-five percent Tempranillo, 3 percent Graciano, 2 percent Garnacha. This small production, un-oaked Rioja is one of the best value reds we have in the shop. It comes from organically farmed, younger vines in Peciña's estate vineyards around the San Vicente area of Rioja Alta. Everything is done by hand and they work in a very naturally in the cellar. Aromatically, it shows lots of red fruits and flowers, and a real purity and freshness on the palate that comes with insane complexity given the price point. This is such a versatile red that it goes with just about any meat you would throw on the grill in the summer months.
— Eater Atlanta contributor Dennis Attick