10 Tasty Wines Under $12 to Try This Spring
The grapes that make this mineral-rich white wine are grown on the western coast of France's Loire Valley in soil composed of ancient marine life (think crustaceans and seashells). The wines are chalky and bright, making an easy pairing with seafood, warm afternoons, and lightly grilled meats. Although more expensive and complex versions are becoming more available, muscadet is known as cheap and cheerful. It's not hard to find a bottle well within reach, such as a 2014 Château de la Chesnaie for $10 or a 2014 Domaine du Montru for $8.
Côtes du Rhône wines are infamous for pairing well with every mood, climate, and meal. Their medium body, which offers fruit, spice, earthiness, and smooth balance, ensures that they are enjoyable to a wide range of palates. When in doubt, these wines are well suited to spring's unpredictable weather. Inexpensive bottles under $10 are easy to come by, and wines like a 2014 Domaine Pélaquié for $10 and a 2013 Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles, also starting at $10, offer substantial quality.
While whites such as Sancerre and Vouvray may be better known, the reds of France's Loire Valley are noteworthy. Often light, they retain a firm structure and intense earthiness, making them equally appealing to lovers of pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon. Less intense in body and alcohol, they are great on their own in warm weather, served with a slight chill alongside light snacks. Their strong tannin and herbal quality ensure they will be just as good with a meal or to warm up an evening outdoors. Experts know that the Loire Valley is home to some of the best values in the wine world, such as a 2014 Saumur Rouge Reserve des Vignerons for $8.
There's no more cheerful way to celebrate the rebirth of spring than with pink bubbly. Cava, the national sparkling wine of Spain, delivers champagne-like bubbles and flavors of crisp citrus, with light toastiness reminiscent of brioche and fresh bread. The rosé version adds a touch of roundness and complexity, while also creating a stunning pink hue. Surprisingly, these elegant and festive wines are easy to find for $10 or less, including a Castell d'Or Cossetània Brut for $10 and a well-distributed Cristalino Brut starting at $7.
Sherry comes in many styles and colors, and each has an appropriate time and place. Manzanilla from Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the southwestern tip of Spain is the lightest and driest expression of sherry. With flavors like almonds, sea spray, white flowers, and brine, it's a wine that offers delicate complexity in each sip. It's fortified, which means it has higher alcohol content and is served in smaller portions, making a bottle of sherry one of the top values of the wine world. Enjoy it well-chilled before dinner or with light snacks. High-quality bottles under $10 include a tried-and-true classic from La Guita for $9.