5 Best Wines Under $12

By: Emilie Sennebogen

You don't have to spend a fortune to get a good wine.

Like all items of the food and beverage persuasion, a good wine really depends on your own personal taste. Someone's absolute favorite might be too full of tannins or too "oaky" for someone else. A ranked list for anything is going to be subjective, but wines are rated by professionals on a point system making it easier than a list of the best movies.

In most cases, a particularly good wine will get noticed and end up on a critic's list. And remember, these lists vary from year to year with the different vintages. We've compiled a list of five wines from respected critics that are tasty and can be had for less than $12.


5: 2005 Wyatt Cabernet

The New York Times is known for having excellent taste in food and wine. Its critics put the 2005 Wyatt Cabernet on their list of great wines for under $10, so we'll take their word for it. The Wyatt Winery is located in Oakville, Calif., an area renowned for great wines and world-class restaurants. The 2005 Cabernet is known for being full-bodied, and reviews of this vintage point out the rich dark fruit, spice and bold oaky flavors. Best of all, you can find this wine for under $10 in most stores.


4: 2005 D'Arenberg the Stump Jump

You can sample The Stump Jump at the tasting room at the D’Arenberg Winery -- you just have to travel to Australia first.
You can sample The Stump Jump at the tasting room at the D’Arenberg Winery -- you just have to travel to Australia first.
Photo Courtesy avlxyz via Creative Commons

Despite its whimsical name, the Stump Jump has been reviewed as a quality red for quite a few years running. This Aussie 2005 vintage is a blend of Shiraz, Mourvedre and Grenache and is well regarded by most wine critics as an excellent value.

The "Wine Advocate" rates the medium-bodied Stump Jump at 88 points for its pepper and spice notes. Another respected reviewer, "International Wine Cellar," ranks the wine at 88 points as well, and details the round, soft finish, along with a fruity blackberry taste and flowery nose. At right around $10, it's an import that's well worth a try.


3: 2005 Esser Cabernet Sauvignon

The culinary magazine "Food & Wine" lists the Esser Cabernet as one of its top value picks. Made by Napa Valley veteran wine maker Manfred Esser, this 2005 vintage is well regarded for its plum and red berry notes that are drawn from grapes from four different regions in Napa. Don't be scared by its label as a table wine. It scores well on most critics' lists as a great value with its fruity, yet mellow flavors, which means it won't overpower your meal.


2: 2008 Rex Goliath Pinot Grigio

If you like your white wines very crisp, dry and refreshing, then you might to give Rex Goliath's Pinot Grigio a shot. The vintage listed here isn't actually vital, because Rex Goliath has been producing quality wines at a good value since starting in 2002.

The Pinot Grigio is typically known as a clearer, drier white compared to a Chardonnay or a Riesling, and the Rex Goliath is no exception. It has citrus notes and a crisp, tart finish, so it's a good wine for hot summer days or to pair with a nice cheese and fruit tray.


1: 2003 Barefoot Chardonnay

If you like wines that are a little fruitier than the dry Pinot Grigio, then you might like Chardonnay and the 2003 Barefoot Chardonnay is very well regarded by critics for its taste and value. It's known as being easy to drink, with notes of vanilla, honey, peach and green apple. While it is a blend, it's mostly comprised of Chardonnay grapes, thus the name on the label. It's not the kind of wine you want to age, so go ahead and drink it right away with some cheese, chicken or seafood.


Best Wines Under $12: Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Asimov, Eric. "Happiness for $10 or Less." Nytimes, com, September 19, 2007. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/dining/reviews/19wine.html
  • "d'Arenberg Stump Jump Red 2005." Wine,com. (June 29, 2011.)http://www.wine.com/v6/wineshop/Detail.aspx?product_id=88063&state=CA
  • "Esser Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2005." Wine.com. (June 29, 2011.) http://www.wine.com/V6/Esser-Vineyards-Cabernet-Sauvignon-2005/wine/87103/detail.aspx
  • Nailey, Richard. "Best Wines $10 & Under." Foodandwine.com. (June 29, 2011.) http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/best-wines-10-and-under
  • Rosenberg, Donald. "Rex Goliath a refreshing pinot grigio from Northern California: Wine Buy of the Week." Cleveland.com, June 30, 2009. http://www.cleveland.com/taste/index.ssf/2009/06/a_refreshing_pinot_grigio_from.html
  • "Top 10 Wines Under $10." Gayot.com. (June 29, 2011.) http://www.gayot.com/wine/top10wines-under10dollars/main.html
  • "Wyatt Cabernet 2009." Snooth.com. (June 29, 2011.) http://www.snooth.com/wine/wyatt-cabernet-california-2009-2009/