Quick Fun Facts About Merlot
- Blending partner for Cabernet Sauvignon Merlots qualities balance the Cabs herbaceous and more rustic features.
- Great party wine with soft tannins and ripe, fruity balance.
- Drink Young Merlot grapes produce wines with low acidity and high alcohol. Most dont improve much with aging single varietal Merlot wines are best drunk young.
- Plum If a glass of red has an overriding plum flavor, its got to be Merlot!
Choosing the best Merlot requires tasting a hundred of them, at the least, which Ive done for years. Here are my best picks for the best Merlot wines when you need a good drink for any occasion.
Buena Vista Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
A fantastic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon for an affordable price. It drinks like a $60-80 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, but its half the price. This wine is a rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with velvety smooth tannins to enjoy every last drop!
My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed this with my home cooked steak and potatoes. Pairs well with food. Great Value!
Tasting Notes: Oak, vanilla, blackberry, plum, cherry, chocolage
Best Regions Of Merlot
Old World Merlot is earthier, while New World Merlot is more fruit-forward
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Old Forester 1897 Bottled
Tasting Notes: Fruit, caramel, vanilla
Age: No age statement
Notes: Old Forester is a reliable brand and this fruit-forward expression is a great sipper. It also has an incredible finish thats long, sweet, and balanced. You really cant go wrong with any bottles from Old Foresters Whiskey Row series.
A Champagne For Everyone
Having read this article, you may realise that weve opted for some of the most well-known Champagnes on the market. After all, this top 5 presents the easiest Champagnes to find that offer the best value for money.
In truth, there are many more obscure labels that can offer an equal or superior experience. However, finding them may require a lot of research and time on your end. Due to the plethora of Champagnes in existence, theres truly something for everyone.
For instance, small family-run houses offer fantastic Champagne at a great price. That said, they dont always export out of Europe and their value increases on the other side of the Atlantic.
Now that youve read our top 5 Champagne recommendations, you may want to learn more about the legendary sparkling wine. Simply head to our main Champagne page and youll discover our guides on how to taste and store Champagne as well as much more!
Alternatively, youve read our breakdown but why dont you watch the video below?
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Kokomo Winery Peters Vineyard Chardonnay 2019
Coastal fog in the West Sebastopol region of the Russian River Valley allows the Chardonnay grapes for this wine to remain on vines well into October, all the while developing expressive aroma and flavor compounds. Its orchard and stone fruit notes dazzle from the get go, while French oak and bracing acidity provide controlled, well-balanced opulence. For food pairings, we suggest some simple grilled chicken thighs with a peppery arugula salad. Average price: $32. Rating: 93.
Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
Visited this winery and was pleasantly surprised by the price and taste of their Cabernet. They are not the most well-known winery, and they dont stand out in any way. That might be a good thing because they just concentrate on making good Napa cabs.
This wine is not always found under $30, but we were able to get this bottle under $25. So it may be unfair to have on this list, but if you find the same deal we did GET IT!
Tasting Notes: Dark chocolate, tobacco, plum, black fruits, and smooth finish
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Schramsberg 2015 Crmant Demi
Wine Enthusiast says: Theres an intentional sweetness to the wine that makes it off-dry in peach, pineapple and honey. Lively acidity keeps it balanced with a lift and energy in between the welcome richness. Crémants are a kind of sparkling wine that have been made for centuries but are seeing a bit of a renaissance around the world. As Schramsberg is one of Californias great sparkling wine producers, trust them to make this interesting.
Woodford Reserve Distillers Select Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Woodford touts its bourbon as having 200 detectable flavor notes. To identify them all, you might need the experience and palate of the brands master distiller, Chris Morris. In fairness, it is an incredibly aromatic and flavorful bourbon, which arrives at a precise 90.4 proof. Consider it a solid, dependable all-rounder. Average price: $36. Rating: 92.
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Quartz Reef Bendigo Estate 2017 Single Vineyard Pinot Noir New Zealand
Critic James Suckling says: This wine delivers a mix of powerful fruit and a focused structure. Violets and ripe red cherries sit amid gently stony, flinty nuances, leading to a palate that has a succulent, lithe, and juicy core of vibrant cherries and chalky tannins. New Zealand is well known for its Sauvignon Blancs, but if you havent explored its Pinot Noirs, youre missing out.
Gran Moraine 2017 Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton Photo: Courtesy of Gran Moraine
The Best Cheap Bourbons Under $50
Cheap bourbon aint what it used to be. The quality of entry-level and middle-shelf bottles continues to improve, especially as distillers introduce new innovations and with supplies of aged stock also seemingly on the rise. The very nature of what we might consider cheap has also shifted in the category, with $100-plus offerings now becoming commonplace, and certain labels demanding many hundreds if not thousands on the secondary market.
So what exactly constitutes cheap these days? At VinePair, we consider it to be below $50, for multiple reasons: The demand for bourbon has never been higher in living memory, which naturally pushes prices northward.
Additionally, its worth considering bourbon versus other styles of alcohol, such as wine. A cheap bottle of wine is good for four or five glasses and has a shelf life of a few days once opened. But with its high alcohol content, bourbon remains stable for years after opening. And we typically pour or mix in 2-ounce drams the equivalent of 12 servings per bottle so one bottle can get you much further
The following 14 bourbons are widely available and all clock in below $50. These are bar cart and liquor shelf staples, and bottles you can depend upon for all occasions.
Here are 14 of the best cheap bourbons to drink in 2022.
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Best Overall: Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Region: Kentucky | ABV: 45% | Tasting Notes: Vanilla, Caramel, Sweet corn
While there are some wildly popular and rare bourbons made at Buffalo Trace, there’s no better affordable option than the distillery’s flagship bourbon. It uses a low-rye mash bill that provides notes of vanilla, caramel and sweet corn. According to bartender and beverage consultant Jessica Gonzalez, this should be your go-to bourbon for making an Old Fashioned. It’s priced low enough that it won’t send anyone to the poorhouse, and no matter what they usually drink, this won’t disappoint.
Smooth Trademarked Technique In A Glassproof: 92price: $2499
A strong contender for the best bourbon under 50 bucks is the Larceny Small Batch whiskey. One of the oldest and largest bourbon distilleries globally, Heaven Hill Distilleries brings whiskey lovers a distinctive touch of rye and Barley, using just more wheat in contrast to other American bourbon distilleries.
When it comes to sweetness and smoothness, this bourbon is a good drink for new whiskey enthusiasts. Strong yet flavorful aromas include warm bread, toffee, and butterscotch. This spirit sparkles at first glance with a polished copper color. The nose on this bad boy is rich yet imbues softer tones with orange, caramel, blossom honey, and if your palate is promising, you’ll get a whiff of bread pudding.
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Drink These 25 Wines To Be A Chardonnay Expert
Chardonnay is the world’s most popular white wine, and with good reason. From its regal perches in Burgundy, where Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards turn out powerful, richly layered wines capable of aging long stretches in the bottle, to the coasts of California, Washington, and Oregon where styles range from cheap and cheerful to pricey and profoundits one fascinating grape. But, with such a large spectrum of bottles to choose from, getting familiar with Chardonnay’s many facets can be quite the undertaking. That’s why we rounded up 25 essential Chardonnays from around the world, representing the best of what this ultra-versatile grape has to offer.
1. 2016 Gundlach Bundschu Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, California $27
The Sonoma Coast is an area that overlaps with the Russian River and Carneros appellations. Vineyards are planted on high ridges and rolling plains and are subject to extremely cool Pacific Ocean breezes. Gundlach Bundschu is one of the oldest growers in the area, and this wine is a classic, cool-climate Chardonnay bursting with lemon zest, minerality, and a zippy, fresh, clean mouthfeel, courtesy of the cool growing conditions of the area.
2. 2017 The Calling Chardonnay Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California $30
3. 2016 Three Sticks Winery Durell Vineyard Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, California $55
4. 2015 Ramey Hyde Vineyard Napa-Carneros, California $65
11. 2017 A to Z Wineworks Chardonnay, Oregon $15
Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
The eponymous release from one of Americas most celebrated distilleries, this bourbon packs a lot of character despite its lack of age statement and relatively low alcohol content. With a versatile, rounded profile delivering fruit, spice, and oak notes, this whiskey is a solid option for cocktail hour. Average price: $35. Rating: 91.
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Domaine Skouras Almyra Chardonnay 2020
Greece has gifted the world some exceptional native white varieties but this Chardonnay from Domaine Skouras deserves a slight detour from that path. Clean and focused, its fruit character spans citrus pith, pink grapefruit, and underripe white peaches. Those notes arrive concentrated on the palate, with a refreshing spray of citrus providing a zesty crescendo. Average price: $20. Rating: 90.
Best Under $: 2019 Avalon Chardonnay
Courtesy of Drizly.com
Its always welcome when theres a wine that can impress you and your friends and doesnt weigh heavily on your checking account. Behold, the 2019 Avalon Chardonnay, a product of the western edge of Sonoma County where the Pacific Ocean breezes give shape to every grape. The magic in this bottles simplicity is not to be overlooked.
Spicy vanilla over notes of apple, orange, pear and citrus give way to a smooth texture and mild acidity. This is a perfect wine for a last-minute dinner engagement or a layover flight.
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Why We Recommend It
This distiller is passionate about handcrafted quality, which shows in the award-winning smooth, mellow flavor that Four Roses is known for. You can grab your bottle here.
Bill Samuels Sr. created Makers Mark because he wanted a bourbon to enjoy drinking himself. Rather than the typical harsh, hot whiskies, he chose to slowly make this small batch approachable and smooth.
The 50 Best Wines Under $50
Elin McCoy, Bloomberg News
— Its time again for my annual report on the wines Ive tasted over the past year that deliver top value as well as sheer deliciousness.
Happily, while sampling 2,705 red, white, rosé, orange, and sparkling examples, I found more great vino at a reasonable price than ever. And thats despite the pandemic, recent extreme weather that decimated crops and reduced quantity, and this years logistical problems including a glass bottle shortage and shipping delays!
So where to look for 2021s best buys?
I was surprised by the number of good values coming from Italy, from bright whites to savory reds from lesser-known regions such as the Marche and Puglia. Newly popular Portugal has a wealth of hidden gems, especially from little known grapes like sousão and antão vaz. In France, look to the south in Roussillon, with a new wave of vignerons making wines from organic grapes and old vines.
Riesling from everywhere is still woefully undervalued, as are such regions as Alsace and Beaujolais. Inexpensive pinot noir from Chile is just getting better and better.
Among the fizz categorys top buys, some of my favorites are trendy pet nats, or petillant naturel-style wines theyre made by the methode ancestrale, in which partially fermented wine is bottled and then finishes fermenting, trapping carbon dioxide in the bottle.
My last piece of advice, as always, is to shop around. The holiday season is prime time for sales and discounts, particularly for bubbly.
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Hartford Court Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2020
Sonomas Russian River Valley has proven caliber on the high-quality Chardonnay front, and this expression is a fine example. Ripe and baked stone fruits arrive in luxurious harmony along with the influence of 9 ½ months of French oak aging. Subtle mineral texture on the palate provides the icing on the cake for this classic California Chardonnay. Average price: $35. Rating: 89.
Chteau De Laurets 2015 Puisseguin Saint
This Bordeauxan 80/20 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Francis from an estate built in the 1800s, but one that has gained fresh momentum in the new millenium, when Baron Benjamin de Rothschild acquired it in 2008. James Suckling calls it: A red with pretty berry, chocolate and hazelnut character. Medium body, tight and dense fruit and polished and nicely chewy tannins. A minerally undertone.
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Best Under $: 2017 Maison Champy Pernand
Courtesy of Wine.com
Maison Champy, Burgundys oldest wine company, has been in business for some 300 years. You dont get that kind of longevity by messing around with the quality of your product. Their Pernand-Vergelesses chardonnay benefits from the diverse soils of their hilly vineyards and the experience of many generations of winemakers. How they managed to keep this bottle under $100 is still a mystery.
Lemon aromas with white nectarine, apple and peach flavors are on the palate. Wispy minerals add to the ripe texture making for an extended and satisfying finish.
Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve
Tasting Notes: Vanilla, maple syrup, brown sugar
Age: 9 years
Notes: Less harsh than youd imagine for a 120-proof bourbon, but it has some significant heat that you need to be ready for. That being said, the power fades away and moves into a rich and sweet bourbon with a traditional flavor profile.
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Flowers Vineyards & Winery Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2019
From Sonoma Coast, this 100 percent French oak Chardonnay is remarkably perfumed. Honeysuckle and apricot aromas lead to round, honeyed richness on the palate. Bright acidity cuts through each sip, bringing stone fruit and white flowers to the fore once more. This fine wine requires no food but youll want to taste it with a bountiful summer salad. Average price: $50. Rating: 91.
Cheval Noir Saint Emilion 2018
This Right Bank wines concentration and balance with silky tannins and fruity aromas make it a perfect wine for prepared dishes, white meats, and poultry. Another great wine from the Bordeaux region, that red wine drinkers will enjoy.
Tasting Notes: Earthy notes with red fruit flavors like cherry and raspberry. And some notes of leather, oak, and tobacco.
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Chamisal Vineyards Sta Rita Hills Chardonnay 2018
This Chardonnay is all about texture, with creamy, buttery aromas previewing the experience that awaits in glass. Each soft and velvety sip arrives with mild acidity, amplifying subtle mineral notes that reign in its weighty viscosity. Enjoy with a rich risotto or classic roast chicken dinner. Average price: $38. Rating 89.
How We Determined The Best Bourbons Under $50
Unlike our article on the 18 best bourbons under $30, we included some allocated and hard-to-find bourbons in this list .
There are simply too many great pours that, while hard to find, are great values for the $50 price point and offer a unique experience.
Another important note:
This list is ordered by total value .
Some may argue that some bourbons lower on the list actually taste better than others.
This is a fair point, but keep in mind what were shooting for: the best bourbons at this pricepoint based on total value.
Note: this post contains affiliate links meaning we receive a small commission for any purchases at no cost to you.
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Why You Can Trust Us
Wine is our passion and our mission is to make the world of wine more accessible to you and by doing so enhancing your experience.
We try our best to find high quality wines that offer great value for money so that they have a light weight on your wallet as well!
Finally, all the content we publish on this site has been written or overseen by wine certificate holders, which ensures a high quality content.
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