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Wine should be an easy thing to pick up and bring to a party—in theory. In reality, the shelves of witty, worldly, and just plain weird labels with descriptions of “chewy tannins,” “fleshy” bodies, and notes of “charcoal” (love me some fresh charcoal!) can leave non-sommeliers (so pretty much everyone who'd be shopping for wine) confused. And then there’s the price. Expensive wine tastes better, right? But are they really that much better?

It turns out there are plenty of vinos that taste like a grand cru but cost way less—we’re talking no more than $20. From classic French sparklers to obscure yet delicious Serbian reds, these expert-picked bottles will please any crowd without anyone knowing how much you didn’t spend!

Note: Prices reflect averages on Wine-Searcher.com and may vary depending on where you live.

Perelada Blanc Pescador
Photo: BlancPescador.com

Perelada Blanc Pescador

Although it costs only a smidge more than two-buck chuck, this slightly sparkling white packs much more bright citrus flavor. “When you can’t decide between still and sparkling, this is a perfect in-between,” says New York sommelier Courtney Schiessl. And at this price, it’s a go-to for parties. ($5)

2013 Evolúció Furmint
Photo: Wine-Searcher.com

2013 Evolúció Furmint

Little-known wine regions (and often ones with the most confusing names) usually mean great bargains. This wine is dry and delicious with rich peach flavors and just a touch of stoney minerality, Schiessl says. But if none of that really matters to you, choose this bottle for its cute label! ($11)

Fritsch Windspiel Grüner Veltliner
Photo: Fritsch.cc

Fritsch Windspiel Grüner Veltliner

Never know what to serve with vegetable dishes like asparagus, bitter greens, or artichokes? Here you go. “Grüner like this is what they drink across Austria,” says sommelier Morgan Harris, “and a whole country can’t be wrong.” He calls this tart, savory sip a “patio pounder.” If you love pinot grigio, you need to try this! ($11)

2012 Stock & Stein Riesling
Photo: Astorwines.com

2012 Stock & Stein Riesling

Riesling isn’t always super sweet—this German one is proof. With succulent fruit flavors (think tart lemons meet ripe peaches) and mouthwatering acidity, it’s great paired with spicy food, Schiessl says. Just be warned: “This juice is extremely addictive. My bottle is usually gone far too fast,” she adds. ($14)

Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine
Photo: Domaine de la Pépière

Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Maine

Most people don’t know what muscadet is, Harris says, so go for the less-expensive stuff, like this wine from Marc Ollivier, one of the greatest producers in Harris’ eyes. It's the perfect pre-meal drink, especially with any sort of raw bar, he says. It ages well too, so go ahead and buy a few bottles. Any extra can always be used for cooking. ($13)

2011 Val de Mer Saint-Bris
Photo: Wine-Searcher.com

2011 Val de Mer Saint-Bris

This sauvignon blanc pairs well with spinach dip and goat cheese, so it’s another great one to bring to parties. Full of citrusy flavor, it has a clean, crisp finish to wash down salty snacks. ($20)

2013 Handley Pinot Gris Anderson Valley
Photo: HandleyCellars.com

2013 Handley Pinot Gris Anderson Valley

Buy a few rich cheeses, some crackers, and this California white, and the first course (or dinner, why not?) is set. Allison Caruso, tasting room manager for Turley Wine Cellars, describes the taste as “honeydew melon, pineapple, and ripe nectarine flavors meet crisp minerality.” We're not totally sure what that means, but definitely up for finding out! ($17)

2013 San Giovanni Pasini Il Chiaretto Valtenesi Rosé
Photo: PasiniSanGiovanni.it

2013 San Giovanni Pasini Il Chiaretto Valtenesi Rosé

Rosé isn’t just for summer! Fresh bing cherries and tart strawberry flavors mean this Italian wine pairs nicely with just about anything, from white meat and fish to pasta and rice dishes. ($13)

2010 Viña Eguia Tempranillo
Photo: QuintessentialWines.com

2010 Viña Eguia Tempranillo

A classic Spanish wine at a rock-bottom price, Caruso says. Vanilla and coconut aromas warm up any winter soirée, and robust red cherry and cranberry flavors are a natural combination with cheese-covered crostini or hearty tapas. ($14)

2011 Terre Rouge Tête-a-Tête
Photo: Bill Easton

2011 Terre Rouge Tête-a-Tête

Forget Napa, this California red blend comes from up-and-coming “gold country”—so enjoy it now while prices are lower. The mix of flavors results in something that could be described as "peppered beef jerky meets cherry pie." Sounds weird, but tastes delish, especially with nutty cheese like Gouda or anything with bacon. ($20)

2012 Vietti Barbera d’Alba Tre Vigne
Photo: Viettti.com

2012 Vietti Barbera d’Alba Tre Vigne

This ruby-hued juice combines aromas of vanilla and violets with a smooth, lingering cherry finish. Pour a glass with hearty salads or soups, or sip on its own. ($17)

2012 Anderra Cabernet Sauvignon
Photo: WineDeals.com

2012 Anderra Cabernet Sauvignon

Having friends over who are super into wine? This bold, spice Chilean wine is from the Rothschild family, which will impress those in-the-know. And with all the rich blackberry and cassis flavors of a classic Bordeaux (but at half the price!), those not in-the-know will enjoy it just as much. It's amazing with appetizers like meatballs or stuffed mushrooms. ($13)

2012 Erath Pinot Noir
Photo: Erath.com

2012 Erath Pinot Noir

Pinot noir is an easy go-to for holiday gatherings because its light body and fresh flavors make it insanely food-friendly. This vino from one of Oregon’s best producers leads with bright red cherry flavors and tons of earthy notes. Whether you’re sipping sans food or alongside salty party favorites (pigs in a blanket, anyone?), this won’t disappoint. ($19)

2012 Agrina Portuguiser
Photo: Wine-Searcher.com

2012 Agrina Portuguiser

Though Serbia isn’t a country many associate with wine, don't skip this section so fast. This pinot noir-ish number offers cranberries and cherries with a hint of spice. Plus, it super food-friendly, even with strong or spicy flavors, Schiessl says. ($16)

2011 Assobio Red Quinta dos Murças
Esporão

2011 Assobio Red Quinta dos Murças

Portuguese wines make finding a great bottle on a budget easy. No need to remember complicated grape varieties, just know that these red blends are a great option for those who like wines with big fruit flavors. This one has tons of blackberry and black cherry flavors with some bright red fruit too. “Think of it as a merlot or malbec alternative that’s fresh enough to appeal to fans of lighter reds as well,” says Schiessl. ($13)

Martine et Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais Traditionnelle
Photo: Shop4FrenchWine.co.uk

Martine et Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais Traditionnelle

Doesn’t matter if it’s served at a winter potluck or a backyard cookout, this wine is gulpable thanks to tasty raspberry flavors and an incredibly smooth finish. “It won't win any contest for seriousness,” Harris says, and all the better! We say wine should be fun! ($17)

Varichon & Clerc Privilege Blanc de Blancs Brut
Photo: WhiskyAntique.com

Varichon & Clerc Privilege Blanc de Blancs Brut

Add a little sparkle to any party—or a regular night at home—with this bubbly. No need to master the pop-the-cork-with-a-knife party trick (unless you really want to)—the gorgeous gold label will make an impression on its own. How does it taste? This unique French blend has tons of lemony acidity, making it a great match for anything from popcorn to veggies with hummus. ($13)

Complices de Loire L'Evanescente
Photo: ComplicesDeloire.com

Complices de Loire L'Evanescente

Sparkling wine just seems fancy, but that doesn't mean it needs to be pricey. This French vino is a dry sparkling with a slightly floral flavor. Basically you'll want to be poppin’ bottles every day. ($14)

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