Top 10 Wines on a Budget

Skylar Wooden and Katie Butler

November 23, 2016

It’s that time of year again! No, not Christmas. The time of year when you can unapologetically buy wine in bulk for “the holidays.” You have a short window in November and December when no one can look twice when you buy a case from the liquor store. Not that we don’t support this at any point during the year. Christmas in July’s a thing, right?

Wine is expensive. But, after finishing countless bottles that are overpriced and underwhelming, you start to develop a knack for choosing the best ones on a budget.

Just in time for the holidays, we’ve put together a list of our favorites (starting at the sweetest and ending at the driest), all of which are under $20.

Image of Purple Toad wine

1. Purple Toad, Black and Bruised

We could hardly call ourselves Kentuckians if we didn’t start with a Kentucky wine. Made in Paducah, Purple Toad is as sweet as it comes. A blended blackberry and blueberry wine perfect for an after dinner drink.

Image of Wildside Winery wine

2. Wildside Winery, Cranberry

Cranberry is the pumpkin spice of Thanksgiving. This Kentucky wine, made Versailles, Kentucky, is sure to put you in the holiday spirit. If you’re in the Lexington or Louisville area, you can get this at the local Liquor Barn. If not, call and order a bottle! Check them out at

Image of Cupcake wine

3. Cupcake, Moscato D’asti

Hardly wine. Sparkling alcoholic juice. Perfect for Thanksgiving dinner with family members who say your dry red tastes like turpentine. True story.

Image of Primo Amore, Moscato

4. Primo Amore, Moscato

Truthfully, we’ve stumbled across this one thanks to Olive Garden, and we loved it! It is a sweet and bubbly white that will pair perfectly with turkey.

Image of Dolciando Rosso Dolce wine

5. Dolciando Rosso Dolce, Sweet Red

Two wines were served at Katie’s wedding. This was one of two. It was a huge hit. Guests asked about the brand all night. From us to you, try it. This sweet red will definitely impress your guests.

Image of Barefoot wine

6. Barefoot, Pinot Grigio

If you’ve been around a college girl, you’ve seen Barefoot. You probably also know that it’s the college girl’s drink-of-choice because it’s cheap. Don’t let that fool you. It’s a pretty solid dry white. You can also use it in holiday sangria recipes like this one.

Image of Apothic Red wine

7. Apothic Red, Winemaker’s Blend

If you’re looking for a red but aren’t sure what you’re in the mood for, a blend is the way to go. Apothic has a lot of great reds, but the blend is our favorite!

2014 Apothic California Red 750mL

Image of Handcraft, Pinot Noir wine

8. Handcraft, Pinot Noir

This has been Skylar’s go-to wine for the past two years, or so. For those looking to ease into dry reds, this is the one. Handcraft has a smooth, full taste that never disappoints. When you find the perfect red for you, you stick with it.

Image of Dark Horse wine

9. Dark Horse, Cabernet Sauvignon

Featured at a recent friendsgiving dinner, Darkhorse was a hit. Finding a good, cheap cab is difficult (coincidentally, we have two on this list). This one’s hints of brown spice and dark chocolate espresso will blow you away.

2014 Dark Horse California Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine 750mL

Image of Carnivor, Cabernet wine

10. Carnivor, Cabernet Sauvignon

We once paid too much for a bottle of this at a wine bar. 150% markup. That said, it was great. Smooth. Bold. The whole package. Buy it at a liquor store, not a fancy wine bar.

2014 Carnivor California Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine 750mL

If you find yourself surrounded by people who don’t appreciate wine this holiday season, you should reevaluate your surroundings. When someone offers you a beer, you keep right on drinkin’ your pinot.

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