10 ways to score amazing affordable wine

How to pick a great bottle at a great price? Use our lessons from the 2013 Sunset International Wine Competition

Wine-aisle rescue
Jeffery Cross

Wine-aisle rescue

You’ve filled your shopping cart with the building blocks for dinner, then make a flying pass down the wine aisle for a couple of bottles to wow your friends. But which ones? Few of us have a wineshop clerk on speed dial, so we’re left eyeballing the shelves wondering if the $28 Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley is really better than the $18 bottle from Monterey. What about the $42 Sangiovese from Washington versus the $22 Chianti Classico? Sans hard evidence, we pick our price and reach for the prettiest label.

But Sunset has a better way. The Sunset International Wine Competition gathered 50 of the most experienced wine pros in the West—winemakers, sommeliers, journalists, teachers—to rate nearly 3,000 wines. In our blind tasting, the field was level: Judges knew variety, region, and vintage, but not price. Meaning $12 bottles faced off anonymously with their more expensive counterparts—and sometimes scored better.

Go to sunset.com/2013medals to find the entire list of award-winning wines. And read on to learn some of the most compelling lessons from the 2013 competition—and how to get more bang for your wine-buying buck.

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