The Best 20 Wines Under $20 — That Taste Way More Expensive!

12/16/2013 at 12:02 PM ET

The Best Holiday Wines Under $20
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Ever been in this scenario? You’re rushing to a party when you remember you wanted to bring wine. You stop at the liquor store, flustered and unprepared, and get talked into buying a pricey bottle because, well, who wants to cheap out on the hostess gift?

We knew there had to be a better way, so we got help from two vino pros: Wine Enthusiast magazine’s executive editor Susan Kostrzewa and tasting director Lauren Buzzeo. They assured us that there are plenty of sophisticated, delicious choices that won’t blow your holiday budget.

Their biggest shopping tip? As you’re eyeing the store shelves, think internationally. Kostrzewa loves to serve what she calls “a diverse global smattering of wines” at parties to encourage great conversation. “My guests and I often share stories about the vacations we’ve taken in those regions while we’re drinking the wine, and today you can find amazing wines from diverse categories at reasonable prices,” she tells PEOPLE.

If you signed up to bring sparkling wine, don’t grab a traditional Champagne unless you want to drop major cash. Instead, Buzzeo suggests choosing a more wallet-friendly bubbly like Crémant d’Alsace, Crémant de Loire, or Spanish Cava. “Everyone loves a good glass of sparkling wine around the holidays, but Champagne can often be too pricey for entertaining or the gift-giver on a budget. There are so many wonderful regions that produce affordable and delicious sparkling wines, including within France,” she says.

Stash their customized shopping list in your bag or smartphone and you’ll never overspend at the wine shop again.

RED:
Qupé Central Coast Syrah, 2011 (California)
Ruta 22 Malbec, 2011 (Argentina)
Cantine Colosi Nero d’Avola IGT, 2012 (Sicily)
Château Le Vin Matin Cru Red Bordeaux Blend, 2005 (France)
Château des Landes Lussac-Saint-Emilion, 2010 (France)
Gerard Bertrand’s Grand Terroir Tautavel, 2007 (France)
Painted Wolf Guillermo Pinotage, 2010 (South Africa)
Robertson Phanto Ridge Pinotage, 2010 (South Africa)

WHITE:
Alpha Estate Axia Malagouzia, 2012 (Greece)
Penya Viognier, 2012 (France)
Château Timberlay Blanc, 2012 (France)
Man Vintners Chenin Blanc 2011 and Man Vintners Cuvée V 2012 (these inexpensive South African wines are fun to taste together)

SPARKLING:
JCB No. 21 Brut Crémant de Bourgogne (France)
Michelle NV Brut Rosé (Washington State)
Segura Viudas NV Brut Reserva Cava (Spain)
Freixenet Sparkling Cordon Negro Brut Cava (Spain)
René Sparr Crémant d’Alsace (France)
Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace (France)
Château Moncontour Crémant de Loire (France)

—Lexi Dwyer

FILED UNDER: Food , Holiday Entertaining , Wine

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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MV on

Really? Not even one Canadian wine on this list?!?!?! Shame!!!!

Carli Taylor on

Agreed! Expand your horizons and try a VQA from the Niagara Region or elsewhere in Ontario. Amazing wines at very affordable pricing!

Morten on

There is always dificult too satisfy everyone with such a list.

Ness on

why list all these French wines. California wines are better. They don’t need food to make them taste good. They are excellent just to drink and savor alone. Go California Red

Ernesto Wandrei on