GenTwenty's Guide to Cheap White Wine

It’s about that time again—time for another guide to alcohol! I’ve schooled you on the best vodkas and delightful fall cocktails, but this time the focus is on cheap white wine.

Before we get to business, let’s have ourselves a little white wine lesson.

For the freshest of the beginners, there are two kinds of wine: red and white. Each can then be broken down into more categories. It’s also important to note that the words sweet and dry play a big role in your wine-making decisions. Sweet is what we all understand it to be, and dry is just the opposite of sweet. On the back of some wine labels, you can find a nifty graphic telling you where your particular wine falls in the sweet/semi-sweet/semi-dry/dry scale.

Fancy people also like to discuss whether or not the wine is light or full-bodied. Full-bodied means there’s a lot going on with the taste and it’s a bit heavy sometimes, while light is the kind of thing you’d sit on a patio and sip on during the summer.

Now that we’ve got some basics down, let’s go over some of the most common white wines:

1. Sauvignon Blanc: This is a dry wine. It goes well with fish and green veggies, if you’re into that kind of thing.

2. Pinot Grigio: Another dry wine. It’s usually a bit lighter than Sauvignon Blanc. Same thing with the green veggies and fish.

3. Riesling: This is a sweeter wine. I’ve found that Germany really seems to like to make Riesling. This one goes well with cheese, bread, and desserts.  Basically it’s your best friend.

4. Moscato: Another sweet wine, so cue up the cheese, carbs, and desserts. Moscatos are actually well-known for being a dessert wine.

5. Chardonnay: This is a fancy wine, the kind you want to drink when you’re feeling classy. It’s actually on the dryer side, but is a bit richer. This one goes well with white meats, more fish, and more carbs.

6. Champagne/sparkling wine: Champagnes usually get their own separate shout-outs apart from the common red and white wine types.  Champagne is really a sparkling wine; only sparkling wines that come out of the Champagne region of France can rightly be called “champagne.”  All champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are champagnes.

With no further ado, I present to you the reviews!

Arbor Mist Peach Moscato

This bottle boasts a 6 percent alcohol content (most wines are going to have an average alcohol content of 12 percent) with a $4.99 price tag.

Arbor Mist gets a whole lot of grief for being “shitty gut-rot juice wine,” so I was very wary of this one. However… it was kind of delicious.

It was very similar to a sparkling wine. It also didn’t taste too much like alcohol, more than likely because of its very low alcohol content. Arbor Mist sells a variety of fruit flavors, but this particular Peach Moscato didn’t taste very peachy, but it did have a fruity taste in general.

Also, it was sweet AND fruity. Important to remember: just because a wine is fruity does not mean its sweet. This can be a little confusing at first, but try a dry fruity wine and you’ll start to get it.

Barefoot Riesling

This one has an 8 percent alcohol content and costs $5.99. Barefoot wines are wildly popular and carry most of the common wine varieties, be it red or white.

With my first sip, I noticed I felt this wine with my whole mouth. That has to do with the acidity of a wine, something that I still don’t entirely understand yet (but don’t worry, I will soon!). This too didn’t taste like one particular fruit, but it was both fruity and sweet (it is a Riesling though, so it best be sweet!).  This Barefoot bottle didn’t have a heavy alcohol taste either, again likely due to it’s low alcohol content.

Vendage Chardonnay

Has a 12.5 percent alcohol content and typically a $4.99 price tag.

One important lesson that vodka sampling taught us is that a dirt-cheap bottle of something usually tastes like, well… dirt. I bought my Vendage bottle for $3.99.  It smelled like wine… it tasted like wine… but horrible wine! I found it kind of sour—maybe this was because the bottle suggested it had hints of apple?

Sutter Home Pinot Grigio

Boasts a 13 percent alcohol content and a $5.99 price tag.

This bottle wasn’t too acidic or sweet, fitting because of it’s a Pinot Grigio. There were no distinct flavors that I could taste, so I guess it just tasted like wine. Good to note is that it didn’t taste super cheap, contrary to that Vendage garbage. This is definitely one to turn to when you want to get buzzed on the cheap.

Beringer Moscato

Has an 11.5 percent alcohol content and costs $4.99.

This is a Moscato, so it should taste sweet. And it did. But it also tasted cheap. Sweet and cheap do not make a happy pairing. Skip this one.

Gallo Family Moscato

Lists a 9 percent alcohol content and runs for $5.99.

In case you haven’t guessed by now, I favor the sweeter wines. This Moscato was appropriately sweet, but without having that cloying, sugary taste. It was sweet without tasting like over-sweetened Kool-Aid. It also didn’t have any one predominant flavor, but it went down pleasantly.

The Overall Verdict

Arbor Mist Peach Moscato for when you’ve got a sweet tooth, Sutter Home Pinto Grigio for when the day has been long and rough, and Gallo Family Moscato for that happy medium.

If none of these particular bottles really do it for you, fear not! Cupcake wines are usually a dollar or so over $10, but they’re supposed to be decent. Yellow Tail from Australia makes a variety of wines averaging about $7.50 a bottle, and I do recall drinking their Moscato at a wedding and really enjoying it. Frontera and Woodbridge are two more inexpensive brands you can check out when you’re feeling adventurous.

Just remember to share your findings and opinions in the comments below!  Happy wining, and do drink responsibly.