Cozy at Home

$10-ish Wines for When a Cozy Night in Is *Exactly* What You Need

Psst, don't forget to grab a few extra bottles for budget-friendly holiday entertaining.

November  1, 2018
Photo by Mark Weinberg

The tea's a-brewing and the fireplace's a-crackling. We're getting Cozy at Home with warm-and-cuddly ideas for cooking, decorating, and more—so grab your fuzzy slippers and join us.

I talk a pretty big game about weeknight plans—"A new pizza spot? I should check that out after work," I might say to a colleague around 1 p.m. But the truth is, come evening, I want nothing more than to crawl back to the apartment from whence I came, adorn myself in soft, loose clothing, and threaten to finally start a novel I've had on my bedside table for months while actually scrolling through Instagram for two hours. Such is my weeknight release.

My trustiest date? An incredible glass of wine. By incredible, I mean two things. One: delightfully delicious, with enough nuance to keep me engaged. Two: deeply affordable. As in, something I can pay for with a $20 bill and end up with enough change to buy coffee and a bagel the next morning. And while I do have a cabal of stalwarts I keep on rotation (looking at you, Gruner Veltliners of all shapes and sizes), I'm always on the hunt to mix things up—and in the process, possibly find a new favorite.

So, I called on some experts, from sommeliers to wine buyers for my favorite liquor shops, to advise on $10ish (or less!) bottles of wines I should sample on an upcoming weeknight:

Whites & Rosés

Quinta do Montalto, Vinha da Malhada, Lisbon, Portugal, 2017 ($7)

Lorena Ascencios, wine buyer at the prolific Astor Wines in New York, recommends this "dry, aromatic white from a family estate in Portugal."

"Easy, dry, and fresh on the palate. Excellent with pesto or clams," says Astor Wines.

If you need me, I'll be sipping on this while pretending I'm eating tiger prawns at an impossibly hip Lisbon restaurant.

Dominio di Punctum Pablo Claro Sparkling, La Mancha, Spain ($7)

A sparkling pick from Ascencios, which she says is "a little more friendly in style, meaning it's dry but not bone dry."

Why, that's my favorite degree of dryness! (Except when it comes to turkey. Then, I'm all about using the word "moist"—not sorry.)

Bodega La Tercia Yemanueva Airén de Pie Franco, La Mancha, Spain, 2016 ($8)

"This white is from vines over 100 years old," says Ascencios. Astor Wines says: "Dry and mineraled on the palate with aromas of yellow plums and flowers. Easy-drinking and especially easy with olives and cheese."

Be right back, buying so much cheese.

Purato Rosé, Sicily, Italy, 2017 ($9)

According to San Francisco Wine School's Master Sommelier David Glancy: "Pale ruby-rose color, strawberry and cherry aromas, turning slightly tart and dry on the palate, with moderate, refreshing acidity."

To that I say: yes-way-rosé.

Castello di Torre "Elephas" Bianco, Latium, Italy, 2017 ($10)

"For an Italian white blend from an estate near Rome comes this excellent wine from the winery, Castello di Torre," says Ascencios.

According to Astor Wines' tasting notes: "A blend of native white grapes from the region and gives aromas of flowers, orchards, fresh herbs, and minerals. An excellent wine for appetizers, light meats, or fresh cheeses."

One elaborate cheese-and-charcuterie board, coming right up.

Tilia Chardonnay, Cuyo, Argentina, 2016 ($11)

"Ripe pear, citrus, and tropical fruit flavors with a touch of creamy oak notes and moderate, refreshing acidity," according to Glancy.

Honestly, he had me at "ripe pear."


La Tour Boisee "Les Amorelles," Coteaux de Peyriac, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, 2017 ($6)

"From the South of France comes this gorgeous red wine that's quite full in body," says Ascencios.

"The undeniable sunshine of Southern France comes through with full on fleshy, fruit-forward, scrumptious black currants and cassis," says Astor Wines. "Pair this red as the French do, with rare steak and a nugget of blue cheese."

Need I stick to just one blue cheese nugget?

Rodei Tinto, Rioja, Spain, 2017 ($9)

Ascencios calls this "a favorite Rioja that I drink at home regularly." "And it's from the most charming of families," she says.

"Very giving at the table and works well with everything from schnitzel to lasagna to roasted bass. Very drinkable on its own and best with the slightest chill," says Astor Wines.

This bodes well for my weekly schnitzel session.

Tintero Rosso, Italy ($9)

"A steal!" says Victoria James, the beverage director of New York's Cote and author of Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rosé. "Serve slightly chilled and down the hatch. Easy, pleasant, and great with rustic fare."

Rips off a hunk of baguette, so as to seem rustic. I'm there.

Castello di Torre "Elephas" Rosso, Latium, Italy, 2016 ($10)

Ascencios calls this pick "delicious."

"This is a balanced red wine with smooth texture, ripe red fruit notes and a hint of violets. It was fermented in cement tanks and has a wonderful freshness. An easy choice for the table any day of the week," says Astor Wines.

Any day of the week, it is.

Kermit Lynch, Cotes du Rhone, Rouge, France ($10)

"Another killer value, highly crushable and tasty. Great with game and roasted meats, or a bowl of fresh fruit. Highly quaffable," says James.

Petition to call everything "highly quaffable" from now on, formally initiated.

Campos de Luz Garnacha Old Vine, Cariñena, Spain 2016 ($11)

"Full bodied, sweet black cherry, strawberry jam, and ground white pepper flavors, with hints of espresso and a dry finish," per Glancy.

Aka, everything that's good in this world, in each sip.

Domaine Dupeuble, Beaujolais, Burgundy, France ($12)

"Gamay is a fall classic," says James. "It's the best Thanksgiving pairing: light, crunchy delicious and versatile."

Don't mind if I order a crate, or two.

What do you like to sip during a cozy night in? Let us know in the comments!

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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.