Award winning wines you can buy for cheap

Wine is one of those things that can be a bit intimidating. Those who are into it can be really, really into it, and when you think of someone swirling their glass, holding it up to the light, and sniffing it in a way that can't help but be pretentious, it just makes it that much more daunting when you're faced with a wall of bottles at your favorite wine outlet. How do you know what you're going to like? How do you know what's worth your hard-earned dollars, and what's not?

And what about cheap wines? There's a massive misconception that spending just a few bucks on a bottle of wine is going to net you some undrinkable swill, and that's just not true. There are plenty of award-winning wines out there that aren't going to cost you a huge amount of money, and just to prove it, we've put together a list of those award-winning wines that are going to cost you less than $20 a bottle. In fact, there are even some that are less than $10. So shop with confidence, because you don't have to spend a ton to get a really, really good wine.

Note: The following prices were accurate as of April 2019, but they're always subject to changes over time and by location.

Merlot: Copperwood

While there's still a few states that don't allow grocery stores to sell wine, most do — and that's extremely good news for Aldi shoppers. Aldi pays some serious attention to their wine selection, and that means they're a great place to get a good bottle of wine for minimal cash.

Take their Copperwood Merlot. Tastings says you can expect to spend around $5.99 a bottle for this (although prices will vary by store). And that's not bad for the winner of a silver medal in the 2016 World Wine Championships, overseen by the Beverage Testing Institute.

It's described with these key words: oaky, fruity, and chocolatey, with the flavors of plums, blackberries, and a hint of vanilla. Best of all? Aldi says it goes great with pizza, so if you're looking for something delicious for that casual Friday night or weekly pizza night, this is your wine.

Also, a wine fact: If you're not sure what type of wine you should be looking for, keep in mind that merlot is generally less bitter and less sharp than a cabernet sauvignon. Hopefully, that will help.

Chianti: Ruffino

Pick up a bottle of Ruffino's Chianti for less than $10, and you'll be getting much, much more than you probably expected to get at that price point. MonteCristo says that the Ruffino winery — located just outside Florence, Italy — was one of the very first wineries to export Chianti to the U.S. It was founded by a pair of cousins who had made it part of their mission statement to increase the wine-making reputation of the Tuscany region, and more than a century later, they're still winning awards.

According to Wine Searcher, they've taken home medals from the Los Angeles International Wine Competition, the International Wine & Spirit Competition, and the San Francisco International Wine Competition, among others. They note that this wine goes particularly well with lamb, but Total Wine says this versatile red with hints of raspberry, cherry, and rose petal is a great choice for any meal where you're looking for something not overly dry and not overpowering — but still with an impressive pedigree.

Prosecco: Allini

Some special occasions just call for prosecco, and it doesn't matter if you're familiar with this variety of sparkly, fizzy beverage or not, Lidl's Allini is a choice you can't go wrong with. Imported from Italy, it took home a gold medal at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition, and it didn't just win a double gold at the Indianapolis International Wine Competition, it also won sparkling wine of the year. That's not bad at all, especially when it'll cost you about $10 a bottle.

And it's not just the experts that appreciate this one, either. When Lidl UK ran a deal on Allini and sold a case of six bottles for just £20 (or around $25), it was such a big deal that The Independent reported on it. Thousands of people were lined up in the parking lots before the stores opened, and one Lidl in Devon sold out of their 50 cases in about five minutes, and you can't get a better review than that.

Black Box Wines

Boxed wine used to be frowned upon, but in recent years, they've shed much of the stigma that was attached to them. That's in large part thanks to companies like Black Box, who don't exactly sell boxed wines at bargain prices, but they sell award-winning wines… that just happen to come in boxes.

They're serious contenders when it comes to serious wine, boasting more than 50 gold medals in competitions they've entered across the country since 2003. They're adding more and more wines to their repertoire, too, including a pinot noir in 2014. When that one hit the shelves, the official press release specified that the 3-liter boxes were going to be retailing for around $24.99. That's higher than our $20 cutoff, but here's the important thing: that 3-liter box contains the equivalent of four bottles. It's a ridiculously good deal now, isn't it?

There's other bonuses here, too. Once you open the box, it'll stay fresh in your fridge for six weeks. And if you're as concerned about the environmental impacts of products as much as everyone should be, you'll be happy to know that the boxes are completely recyclable and have about half the carbon footprint of glass bottles. It's a complete win.

Broken Clouds

In 2016, Aldi announced that one of their wines — their Broken Clouds Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir — had taken the #22 spot on Wine Enthusiast's list of Top 100 Best Buys of the Year. It was one of the biggest awards the $14 bottle had been given, but it certainly hasn't been the only one.

It's also received a silver medal from the Beverage Testing Institute's World Wine Championships, and that's not too shabby for such an inexpensive wine. The pinot noir is described as being filled with the flavors of raspberries, strawberries, and allspice, and that all makes it the perfect wine for any night of the week, whether you're ordering out for pizza or you've been slow-cooking a roast all day long.

Pinot noir isn't your thing? Don't worry, because Aldi's Broken Clouds also has an award-winning chardonnay that sells at a similar price point and has also taken home awards at the World Wine Championships. This particular wine is described as having notes of pear, melon, and citrus, making it the perfect choice to pair with an elegant seafood dish, or a Friday night fish fry.

Riesling: Kung Fu Girl

If you're looking for a riesling that's fun, funky, and as affordable as it is award-winning, this is the wine for you. Wine Enthusiast says Kung Fu Girl from the Charles Smith winery retails for around $13 a bottle, and calls it a light, flowery, slightly dry wine.

Charles Smith is one of the largest winemaker-owned wineries in Washington State, says Business Insider, and he's not just about size, but quality. Named Wine Enthusiast's Winemaker of the Year in 2014, Smith built his business on the idea that everyone — no matter what their budget — should be able to go out and buy a really good bottle of wine. It's earned him the status of "rebel winemaker," and he's sticking to his guns.

Wine Spectator has named Kung Fu Girl among their best-value and top 100 wines, and Wine Searcher says it's also won awards at the International Wine Challenge and the Decanter World Wine Awards. Even Better Homes & Gardens agrees that they're well-earned honors, calling it one of Trader Joe's best wines and singing the praises of this light, fruity white.

Vinho Verde: Gazela

Gazela's Vinho Verde comes from Portugal, and Total Wine says it retails for somewhere around $8 a bottle. It's a light, crisp, slightly lemony, low-alcohol wine that's perfect for a certain time and a place — and you've been at that time and in that place where it would be ideal…

Picture those hot, humid summer afternoons, where you're sitting on the back patio, or inside at your kitchen table with all the windows open. The air is hot and cloying, and you want something cold and refreshing to sip while you enjoy the summer sun. This is that wine, especially if you're going to be making some fish tacos or grilling up some Cajun jerk chicken.

It's perfect, too, for anyone who might not be a fan of white wines, but is willing to give it a try. And yes, it — along with Gazela's other wines — have won a fair share of awards at the Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine and Spirits Competition.

Malbec: La Moneda Reserva

When Fortune reported that Walmart was going to be selling the award-winning Chilean La Moneda Reserva for just $7, the tone was a bit incredulous. That's partially because of the seller, partially because of the price tag, and partially, it seems, because the super-affordable bottle has been given major wins at the Decanter World Wine Awards, scoring "platinum best in show" and "2015 Best Red Single-Varietal Under £15." And there was a ton of competition for that last honor: 16,000 bottles of competition to be exact.

Walmart suggests pairing the wine with dark chocolate, lamb, pork, or barbecue, and let's be honest — the world needs more wines that go perfectly with a BBQ. It's described as being filled with the flavors of vanilla yogurt and not just black fruits, but "freshly crushed black fruit," along with a hint of pepper.

You don't even need a corkscrew, because this screw-top wine proves that not all incredible, award-winning things come in fancy, expensive packages. Keep in mind that this elusive bottle disappears quickly once it hits shelves, so if you see it, grab it — you never know when it will be back in stock.

Rose: Zolo Signature

There are some nights — or, let's be honest, some afternoons — where there's nothing better than a glass of rose. If you're looking for something that's as delicious as it is affordable, pick up a bottle of Zolo Signature Rose.

Wine Industry Advisor announced the arrival of the $10 bottle in 2017, and it was the latest offering from the sustainable winery in Argentina, one that sources their grapes from high-altitude vineyards in the Andes.  The same year, it was recognized by Wine Enthusiast with a Best Buy award.

So, what can you expect from this particular rose? It's described as having the flavors of cherries, strawberries, and rosewater, and it — along with Zolo's other award-winning wines — was designed to be enjoyed alongside a meal or on its own. And here's the thing: If you're looking for a responsible choice that's environmentally friendly, this one fits the bill. They're called one of the most technologically advanced wineries of Argentina, and since their farming methods are super sustainable, well, that just makes a wine taste even better, doesn't it?

Dreaming Tree Wines

According to their web site, Dreaming Tree Wines sells each one of their varietals for $15 each. They have something for you no matter what kind of wine you like, and chances are also pretty good that whatever bottle you choose has won some awards. Take their pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, and red blend: Each won a medal (a platinum and two golds, respectively) at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition.

The name might sound familiar, and anyone who grew up in the 1990s might know that it's a winery founded by Dave Matthews. Once you know that, it's also not surprising that there's more to Dreaming Tree than just great, affordable wines: In 2017, they announced they had crossed the million-dollar mark when it came to charitable donations. Most of those donations went to The Wilderness Society and Living Lands & Waters, both organizations working toward goals involving conservation and reforestation.

They've also been involved with Earth Day initiatives like the one in 2018, where every bottle sold during Earth Day weekend meant one tree planted. Award-winning, affordable, sustainably made, and behind massive charitable donations? It's a total win.

Rioja: Marques de Riscal

Arvid Rosengren is a world-class sommelier — literally, as he's a winner of the World's Best Sommelier competition. Sometimes, he goes to Trader Joe's to pick up a bottle of wine.

What does he recommend? He told Mic that one of his picks is the $15.99 Marques de Riscal Rioja, for a few reasons. This wine might be made in Spain, but it's aged in American oak. That imparts the unique flavors of vanilla and dill to the wine, and that makes it stand out — but in a good way.

And they've been noticed. The rioja has taken home awards from the Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine Challenge. In 2013, Wine Enthusiast featured them as European Winery of Year, saying they were the very best representation of all that is, was, and should be Spanish wine. When Decanter featured them, they looked at just what made their wine so good. They found it was age, not just of the wine itself, but of the vines. The grapes that are picked for the Marques de Riscal Rioja come from vines that are over 60 years old, and many were planted in either 1910 or 1913. That, the vintners say, gives the final product an unparalleled depth of flavor… which you can get for less than $20.

Rose: Exquisite Collection Cotes de Provence

It was big news when Aldi's award-winning Exquisite Collection Cotes de Provence Rose hopped across the Atlantic and made it to shelves in the U.S. There's good reason for that excitement, too, says Fortune: The wine, which was sold across Europe for several years before going stateside, not only won a major award — best value rose — from the International Wine Challenge, they won two years in a row. That's not bad for a wine that costs about $8 a bottle.

But how good it is, really? Refinery29 did a blind taste test between Aldi's rose and a $20 bottle. The results? They couldn't tell the difference without the price tag. They say both had the same sweet notes of strawberry and spice, and that sounds like the perfect beverage for a sunny, summer afternoon.

This one comes with a caveat, though: There's another Cotes de Provence Rose that's also for sale at Aldi, and while that one is also described as having the same hints of strawberry and red fruit, it's not the award-winner. You're looking for the one with the blue top, not the white one, so when you do see it, grab it.

Merlot: Piccini Memoro Rosso

What if we told you that you could get an award-winning merlot from a vineyard in the heart of Italy for around $10 a bottle? Too good to be true? Not at all.

Piccini Memoro Rosso is a blended wine, and there's nothing wrong with that. Purists might scoff, but purists are also no fun at parties. Fortunately, judges at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, the International Wine Challenge, and the Decanter World Wine Awards didn't just turn up their collective noses, and recognized this affordable red.

It's a blend of not just different grapes but different vintages, too, and Wine.com says that's what gives it its unique taste. It's described as having notes of figs, cherries, and coffee, with an oaky flavor. If you're looking for a wine that's going to last on the palate and compliment the food you serve it with, this is one bottle that is sure to impress. They also note that fans of New World wines who would like to try some Old World offerings should start with some of the wines made from the vineyards of southern Italy — just as this one is.

Trinity Oaks

Trinity Oaks is another winery that has something for everyone. Pick up a bottle of pinot grigio, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, or pinot noir for just about $9 a bottle, and let's talk awards. Wine Searcher says they've taken home wins at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition and the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, among other national and international competitions, so you know you're getting a bottle of award-winning wine. But you're also getting something pretty priceless: the knowledge you're supporting a great cause.

The winery has a "One Bottle, One Tree" initiative that promises exactly that: to plant one tree for every bottle sold. They've been doing it for a long time, and between the program's start on July 1, 2008 and early 2019, they had planted more than 21,000,000 trees in partnership with Trees for the Future, who has planted more than 80 million trees since 1989.

So, if you want something delicious and affordable that you can really feel good about drinking, here's your winner — no matter what your wine of choice is.