Make these 10 bottles your new go-to house wines.

By Ray Isle
January 17, 2019
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Greg DuPree

Anyone who cooks knows that some days allow for ambition—the Saturdays when you haul out The French Laundry Cookbook and decide that 42 different steps are not too many to make five-spice roasted lobster with port-poached figs—and some days don’t. You’re home from work; you’ve got 30 minutes; dinner has to be straightforward, easy, and delicious.


So with wine. Billionaires may glug down $500 bottles of grand cru Burgundy while watching the latest episode of Modern Family, but on post-work weeknights, most of us want wine that doesn’t require much thought (or investment). You want a wine you can absentmindedly sip while flipping a burger, one where you didn’t pay so much that you have to give it a lot of thought—but also one that tastes great and that you wouldn’t mind having the next night, too, if you don’t finish it today. To that end, here are 10 excellent choices.

Whites

2017 Vera Vinho Verde ($12)


Portuguese Vinho Verde is one of the all-time great drink-it-without-thinking quaffers. Vera ups the Vinho Verde game by using only estate-grown fruit; think lemon zest, a little sweet orange, and a hint of sea spray.

2017 Toad Hollow 
Chardonnay ($14)


Big, oaky Chardonnays often feel too rich and heavy for everyday dinners. Toad Hollow eschews the oak barrels entirely for this vibrant white (and has since the first vintage, back in 1993). Its flavor recalls ripe mango with a touch of lemon.


2017 Principe Pallavicini 
Frascati ($13)


Most Frascati, the relatively anonymous white of a thousand Roman trattorias, is forgettable. Pallavicini’s version is an exception: Lightly spicy, floral, with tingly lemon flavors, it’s immensely refreshing.

2017 Satellite Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($15)


Satellite is a value label from New Zealand’s Spy Valley winery (both names reference a nearby satellite monitoring station). Bright and zesty, this take on Marlborough Sauv Blanc is definitely hard to resist.

Reds

2016 Bodegas Enrique Mendoza La Tremenda 
Monastrell ($12)


This spicy, mocha-scented red comes from Spain’s sunny Alicante region—its warm, red-fruit flavors make it an ideal accompaniment to winter stews and hearty soups.


2016 André Brunel Côtes du Rhône Rouge ($14)


André Brunel is famed for the Châteauneuf-du-Pape he makes at his family’s Domaine les Cailloux. Under his own name he produces a range of affordable Rhône reds, among them this juicy, black-peppery choice.


2016 Odfjell Armador 
Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)


Winemaker Arnaud Hereu farms his Chilean vineyards organically, plowing some of the oldest ones with horses. He also happens to be an excellent winemaker, as this currant-and-tobacco-leaf Cabernet shows.


2017 Alamos Malbec ($14)


With weekday wines, personal preference is key. If your tastes run toward bold reds, this easy-to-find Argentine Malbec offers impressive oomph for the dollar: ripe, plummy fruit; a rich texture; and a cool, herbal note on the finish. 


2016 Librandi Cirò Rosso ($15)


Southern Italy is a land of easygoing, affordable reds. Within it, Calabria’s Cirò appellation stands out for balancing lightness with intense flavor, as in this pale red, strawberry-accented wine from one of the region’s top producers.

2016 Secateurs Red 
Blend ($17)


South Africa’s Adi Badenhorst makes some of his country’s top wines, as well as his incredibly drinkable Secateurs line (the name is a term for grape-pruning shears). This espresso-scented, berry-rich blend of Shiraz, Cinsaut, and Grenache is a stunning bargain.

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