Wines On A Budget

Have you ever had a glass of wine – or bottle, I don't judge – that was so unappealing it was actually hard to drink?

I know, I know. Even the thought of not finishing a beautiful glass of vino hurts my Italian heart.

But sometimes, you just pick the wrong one. Then, you're stuck with a bottle that doesn't do anything but sit at the bottom of your bar cart and turn into vinegar.

I mean, picking wine can be hard.

It's so much more than just choosing red or white. There are so many different brands, types and varieties. It can be overwhelming.

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You can take numerous educational wine classes, go on tastings at vineyards and sample all the bottles you want at home. But you can still walk into a liquor store, only to be dumbfounded by all the options.

Usually, we resort to picking moderately-priced wines: the type we're accustomed to ordering when we're out.

(I'll take a Cabernet Sauvignon.) So, we end up leaving the rest up to the cool labels or smart brand names that catch our eye.

The only problem with this is we run the high risk of coming home with a wine we absolutely don't like... the horror.

Or maybe we resort to the same two or three types of wine every time we shop... yawn.

So, how do we pick good wine without breaking the bank?

For starters, only pick wines from California, Argentina and Southern France.

And here's a tip: Don't buy organic. It's so much more expensive, and the hangover is infinitely worse.

Once you've found a wine you love – trial and error can be fun sometimes – stick to the parent company each time you want to try different types.

Also, buy wine by the case, not the bottle. (Duh.)

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But if all that's too much for you to remember or handle, I'm about to make things real easy for you.

I've done all the legwork for you... in the name of research, of course. I've scoured the wine shelves of every store within a five-block radius in order to find the best wines under $17.

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This is perfectly timed for the new year, as our wallets are still recovering from the holiday debt we put ourselves in.

So, without further ado, here's my New Year's gift to you: a list of the best 20 wines under $17.

1. Hahn Winery Pinot Gris ($15)

2. Hahn Chardonnay ($15)

3. Pinot Noir ($15)

4. Hahn Merlot ($15)

5. Hahn Winery Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)

6. Hahn GSM ($15)

7. Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc ($14)

8. Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon ($18)

OK, I lied. This one is a dollar over the limit. But it's so good, I had to put it on the list.

9. Lander-Jenkins Chardonnay ($15)

10. Lander-Jenkins Pinot Noir ($18)

(Forget the price and thank me later.)

11. Lander-Jenkins Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)

12. JUSTIN Sauvignon Blanc ($14)

13. Rhiannon Red Blend ($13)

14. Predator Cabernet Sauvignon ($24)

(This is the last time, I SWEAR.)

15. Predator Zinfandel ($17)

16. Apothic Red Blend ($11)

17. Apothic Dark Red Blend ($10)

18. Ménage à Trois Malbec ($15)

19. Angeline Pinot Noir ($13)

20. Mark West Pinot Noir ($10)

And if you're looking to splurge a little on yourself next year, I've found a few pricier bottles for you to enjoy.

The best part? They still won't break the bank. I know: I'm too good to you.

1. Robert Mondavi 1000 Stories Bourbon Barel-Aged Zinfandel ($19)

2. Landmark Overlook Chardonnay or Pinot Noir (both $25)

3. Scott Family Estate Arroyo Seco Chardonnay ($25)

4. Two Range Napa Valley Red Blend ($25)

5. Smith & Hook Proprietary Red Blend ($25)

Do winter right, and cuddle up with a glass (or bottle) of wine to relax from all the stress the holidays tend to bring with them. Cheers!

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Side note: I'm sorry in advance if you're participating in Dry January. If you are, please bookmark this page to come back to in February.