There’s an art form to choosing the perfect bottle, and even more so when you’re doing it on a budget. But when it comes to wine, you really don’t have to spend a fortune – Christmas is expensive enough, even without alcohol thrown into the mix.
So, to help whittle down this year’s festive edit, we’ve enlisted the help of the wine gurus at Vinomofo and Naked Wines, to reveal their favourite purse-friendly drops, along with some handy tips on choosing the perfect bottle for summer. From refreshing Rielsing to spicy Shiraz, they’ve sniffed out the tastiest sips of the season, guaranteed to add an extra-special finishing touch to this year’s Christmas spread.
Your essential guide to budget wines by Vinomofo
Eddie Schweitzer, a.k.a. ‘Eddie the Wine Guy’, Head of Merchandising at Vinomofo gives his insider tips on what to look out for when picking a budget bottle of wine.
Don’t be afraid to ask!
Chat to your friendly wine dealer in person, via phone or website (not to mention your friendly sommelier). Let them know how much you’d like to spend, what you’re looking for and wines you’ve liked in the past. They’re sure to find you some of the most interesting, fantastic wines that really overdeliver.
Blends can be world-beaters
Blends have got a bad rap in Australia for some reason but, in the budget sphere they can offer serious value. If you like Shiraz, try a GSM and if you’ve had heaps of Pinot, what about a Pinot/Gamay? These wines can combine the best qualities of each variety and are often sharply priced.
Look for up-and-coming producers
New producers are full of passion, ambition and tasty wines. Get in on the ground floor before the lesser-known wineries get all the fame, and before the prices rise.
Lesser known regions can punch above their weight
If you find a wine from a relatively unknown region, there are two likely reasons the retailer or restaurant stocks them. Either they’re a handpicked gem from somebody who is passionate about the style (i.e. one that you can’t find in other regions, such as Jacquère from Savoie), or it’s really amazing value. These wines are unlikely to walk off the shelves, so they have to be good to earn their place.
Weird and wonderful grape varieties
Seemingly unknown varieties are another bargain hunter’s heaven. Ask what they are most similar to, see if it matches your flavour profile, then dive in. If you love Shiraz give Primitivo a go, try Vermentino instead of Pinot Grigio. There is so much variety in the wine world, why not see what’s out there?
Meet the maker and visit the cellar door
Holiday time is a great opportunity to hit the road and support local wineries. You’ll get to taste before you buy, which is great, pat the winery dog, and often find a sneaky mixed 6-pack or dozen cleanskin deal.
Soligo Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry 2017, $12.50
Cave de Roquebrun Vignoble de la Ramière 2017, $9.90
Champagne Mailly Grand Cru Blanc De Pinot Noir Brut NV, $55
Foster e Rocco Rosso Sangiovese 2018, $16.50
Losada El Pájaro Rojo 2017, $15
Sherrah Red et al 2017, $27.50
Best budget wines from Vinomofo
- A side-hustle from a great winemaker at Haselgrove in McLaren – Alex Sherrah’s GSN (yes, Nero d’Avola, so alternate varietal too). The passion is in the glass.
- Feeling alternative? This ripper red from the mencia grape in the Bierzo region of Spain is a great example of the quality you can find when you get off the beaten track.
- A juicy, crunchy and full fruited red for lovers of Côtes du Rhône. Four of the super-star Rhone reds, blended to perfection.
- Prosecco is a fantastic alternative to other more expensive styles of sparkling. It offers freshness, fun and frivolity, all at some serious value.
- Sangiovese from a superstar in Heathcote. Italian varietals, whether from Italy or closer are made with one thing in mind: FOOD! Crunchy red berries, savoury tannis that cry out for one more glass.
- When you think of Champagne, the word bargain doesn’t exactly spring mind. But if you can find a couple of friends to split a case with you, this tasty fizz will deliver on all fronts.
Naked Wines' Guide to Summer Wines
We got the lowdown from wine guru Mark 'Poll' Pollard at Naked Wines, on what to look out for when choosing a budget blend.
The regions to look out for
Look for regions such as Langhorne Creek, Central Victoria, Great Southern WA for good value reds.
Your best-value picks?
Riesling from anywhere is great value. Blends tend to be better value in the expensive regions, Shiraz Cabernet or GSM from Barossa is better value than straight Shiraz.
The best picks for summer?
These Naked-exclusive wines provide massive bang for buck and over-deliver on varietal definition and flavour. The sheer quality of these artisanal wines is extraordinary – and you can only get them at Naked Wines.
Naked Wines' Selection
Ben Gould, the maestro from Margaret River, has crafted the perfect lunch time companion. A palate of fresh berries that’s soft and creamy with a crisp, elegant finish. Perfect with summer salads and BBQ prawns.
Brewery Hill El Toro Castrado Grenache Shiraz 2018, Normal Price $16.99 a bottle, Angel Price $11.99
Jock Harvey is back at his best blending Grenache with a touch of Shiraz, to round out the mouthfeel of this perfectly moreish red. Rich in earthy tones and delicious spiciness, this red comes full bodied and balanced with delectable layers of fruit. Ideal pairing: duck with a blood orange sauce and star anise.
Brought to you by multi-award-winning winemaker, Hamish Maguire, this extraordinary South Australian Shiraz has enticing aromas of red fruits and satsuma plums, all complemented by generous layers of juicy ripe berries and a hint of oak. Easy drinking and perfect for BBQs – pairs beautifully with lamb skewers and chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables.
Made by Mobbs Below 600 Central Ranges Sparkling NV, Normal Price $19.99 a bottle, Angel Price $12.99
Sourced from a single vineyard high in the Central Ranges, this lively sparkling shows lifted fruit characters, crisp acidity and terrific complexity. Beautiful straw gold in colour, with crisp yet ripe green apples and sweet stone fruit aromas. A long finish is heightened by a gorgeous bubbly mouthfeel. Try it with smoked salmon canapés – delicious.
Combining the strengths of two pristine NSW winemaking regions, (Riverina and Tumbarumba) Rob Paulazzo’s crisp Chardonnay is a gorgeous treat. At under $12 per bottle (Naked Wines Angel price), a Chardonnay packed with this much quality is an absolute steal! Lap up classic aromas of peach and nectarine, combined with fresh melon and hints of cashew nuts. Stone fruit and citrus flavours will coat your palate, followed by the subtle oak that adds complexity to this captivatingly curvaceous drop.