In a normal year — will there ever be another "normal" year? — April 15 would be the deadline to file income taxes. Even though that date has been pushed back to May 17, money is tight for many of us, and a good value is paramount approximately 365 days a year.
So what better time to check out some wines that punch well above their price point. We've unearthed a dozen $15-and-under bottles (actually 11 bottles and a can) that are tasty on the palate and easy on the wallet.
The good news: Even wines from France and Spain that were dunned by recent tariffs meet our criteria. Here, in red, white and pink order, are wines worth seeking out, suggestions on where to find them and what to enjoy with them:
Torre Oria Gran Reserva 2013: This cabernet-tempranillo blend is somehow both rich and rustic, with a nice, firm grip and enduring finish. Hearty enough for cooler weather and refreshing enough for spring, it emanates from Valencia, which makes it a great pairing with paella or Spanish sausages and hams. $13; Cork Dork and Elevated, Minneapolis; Haskell's, Minnetonka.
Chateau des Acacias Bordeaux 2018: This dusty red offers up Pomerol's classic herb/red-fruit interplay that lingers almost incessantly. There's more than a little malbec in the blend, so fans of that grape will enjoy this wine, too. Break out the grill and plop on a nice steak, lamb chops and/or a thick slice of portobello mushroom. $13; Sentyrz and Zipp's, Minneapolis; The Wine Thief, St. Paul; Liquor Boy, St. Louis Park.
Sogrape Silk & Spice Red Blend 2019: Silky? Somewhat. Spicy? Yes. Tasty, plummy and crowd-pleasing? Absolutely. This Portuguese red is both quaffable and complex, a rarity at this price. Burgers and brats are ideal matches. Oh, and dark chocolate. $11; Hennepin Lake, Minneapolis; Brightwines, North St. Paul; Morelli's, St. Paul; Lunds & Byerly's, several locations; Eden Prairie municipal liquor stores; Winestreet Spirits, North Oaks.
Pavette California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018: A cab with "California" on the label (meaning the grapes come from around the state) usually has fruit bomb written all over it. Not this lean-ish, balanced, currant-y red. I'd go for pork chops or charred grilled veggies with this one. $14; France 44 and Lowry Hill, Minneapolis; Vinifera, Plymouth; G-Will, three locations; the Vintage, Chanhassen.
Sans Wine Co. Finley Road Vineyard Lake County Sauvignon Blanc: Ignore the fact that this California wine comes in a can and is quite cloudy in the glass, and simply enjoy its citrus-stone fruit tastiness and persistence. This is a patio natural, perfect on its own or with salty, savory appetizers. $10; South Lyndale and North Loop, Minneapolis; Lake Aire, Duluth.
Lagar Da Condesa Rias Baixas Albariño 2018: It might cost less than most albariños, but that only means it's a screamin' bargain. This Spanish white is fresh, vibrant and near-endless. Like the best albariños, a touch of brininess indicates that it was grown close to the ocean — which makes it a perfect match for almost any seafood. $13; Cork Dork, Minneapolis; Solo Vino, St. Paul; Hy-Vee, Austin and Maple Grove locations; Kowalski's, Woodbury.
Avia Pinot Grigio 2018: Slovenia is nestled next to Italy's Friuli region, with similar soils and sunniness, meaning the same grapes thrive on both sides of the border. This one's clean but generous, showcasing citrus and melon flavors. Make it even more pleasurable by sipping it with fried fish, chicken or veggies. $11; Little Wine Shoppe, St. Paul; Franklin-Nicollet and Central Avenue, Minneapolis; Liquor Works, Forest Lake; Cellars, Stillwater.
When & Where Friday at Exactly 5:01 PM Chenin Blanc 2020: OK, the branding is a bit much, but man oh man, does this Australian chenin blanc deliver. Gobs of green fruit (limes, kiwi, apples) delight the nose and palate. Save some for corn season, but in the meantime creamy pasta and chicken dishes will rock with this. $15; Apple Valley, Farmington, Lakeville, Rogers, Columbia Heights and Richfield municipal liquor stores; North Branch Liquors' east store; McDonald's, Minneapolis.
Domaine de L'Idylle "Cruet" Savoie Alpine Jacquère 2019: Bracing and energetic, this French white evokes its Alpine roots with fabulous floral aromas and cool, crisp flavors. Bonus points for coming in at just 11.5% alcohol. Trout cooked any ol' way, almonds and other nuts and lighter cheeses are ideal mates. $15; Wayzata municipal liquor store; Apollo, Rochester; 1010 Washington and South Lyndale, Minneapolis.
Les Hauts Plateaux Alpes de Haute Provence Rosé 2019 and 2020: From the once and present epicenter of pink wines, this French delight is dynamic and delicious from start to finish, with classic cherry/berry notes. Yum. Rosés go with most anything, including pasta, pizza, fruits of the sea and a bowl of fresh strawberries. $12; Liberty Village, Stillwater; Top Ten, Roseville; Stinson and North Loop, Minneapolis; Solo Vino, St. Paul.
Portal da Calçada Vinho Verde Rosé Reserva 2019 and 2020: When I first started writing about wine, I buffoonishly thought "Vinho Verde" was Portuguese for "green wine." It's actually a region, and one of its primary red grapes, vinhão, is the base for this perfectly ripe, seriously smooth wine. Alone or with seafood or appetizers, this wine rules. $15; Wine Republic, Excelsior; Lakeside, Vadnais Heights; Kowalski's, several locations; Top Ten, Roseville.
Covalli Prosecco Millesimato Rosé NV: It's hard to say whether prosecco or pink wine is the hotter category, so how about a combo? This Italian sparkler leads with the red berries and has a wonderfully bracing mid-palate and finish. Cured meats, sushi and just about any cheese will cozy right up to this stone-cold delight. $12; all Edina municipal liquor stores and Dennis Brothers, Cottage Grove.
Bill Ward writes at decant-this.com. Follow him on Twitter: @billward4.