Ok, so maybe tonight you're drinking a spooky cocktail (or seven) but as the chill moves in (quickly) we think you'll start to shift towards some autumn wines (it’s so nice to find a comfy bottle of vino to cuddle up with). So, we’ve scoured the city’s best wine shops to find you the perfect blends to take you through the fall—all at $15 bottle (or under!). Our list is dominated by French and Italian options that are perfect for transitioning from summer’s breezy libations into winter’s heartier fare, and we've tried to find wines that have a place on the table… because we already know these bottles have an irreplaceable place in our hearts. Check out our resident wine expert Caroline Helper's ultimate cheapo (but not cheap tasting) guide!
Chateau de Paraza Minervois 2009, $9.99
"This is a great example of a classic French bistro wine. A blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre from Minervois in the Languedoc region of South West France, it's a delightfully savory wine. Smooth and easy to drink on its own or with food, it tastes and feels as comforting as a rich stew."
Available at Garnett Wines and Liquors, 929 Lexington Avenue (between 68th and 69th streets); 212-772-3211.
2010 Zum Martin Sepp Grüner Veltliner, $13
'Ah, Grüner Veltliner—the sommelier’s darling. This is an Austrian wine that’s especially great for the Riesling devotee looking to try something new. It has a sweet floral nose and full body that finishes with a faint rush of spice that would go perfectly with the baking spices in a slice of pumpkin or apple pie. This particular Grüner comes in a 1L bottle (rather than your standard 750ml) and has a crown top – like the ones that you’ll find on beer bottles. Once you’ve finished the wine inside, we definitely think it could double as a cool vase."
Available at Bottle Rocket, 5 West 19th Street (between 5th and 6th avenues); 212- 929-2323.
Domaine de la Combe Au Loup Beaujolais Villages 2009, $15
"Every fall, the American wine market is inundated with Beaujolais Nouveau. Beaujolais Nouveau is a wine that has its time and place, but there’s so much more to Beaujolais and this wine is a great introduction to its particular pleasures. On the nose, this wine smells like walking into a candy store—think cherry licorice. Once it’s in your mouth, it’s a bright and fruity wine that’s easy to drink and delicious on its own or paired with your Thanksgiving turkey."
Available at Best Cellars UES, 1291 Lexington Avenue (between East 86th and 87th streets); 212- 426-4200
Antech Blanquette de Limoux Grande Reserve Brut $15
"I don’t know how it was at your house on Thanksgiving, but at mine we always sipped sparkling wine while nibbling on hors d'oeuvres and waiting for the damn turkey to be ready. This is an awesome sparkling wine, again from the South West of France where, incidentally, most wine nerds think the method for making Champagne was developed. With a nose of yeasty freshly baked bread and a creamy bubble, this is a toasty hearty sparkler that will make you rethink overpaying for a bottle of Clicquot."
Available at Best Cellars UWS, 2246 Broadway (between West 80th and 81st streets); 212- 362-8730.
Grignolino "Poggeto", La Casaccia 2009, $11.99
"This wine comes from Piedmont, in the Northwest of Italy—an area heralded for its big Nebbiolo-based wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, as well fruitier fare like Dolcetto and Barbera. Grignolino is the ugly cousin of the area, but has a lot of character that makes this wine exciting. Fresh red berry floods your palate while a zippy acidity and firm tannins make this a great wine to pair with briny and salty foods like olives and cheese."
Available at Astor Wines and Spirits, 399 Lafayette Street (between Washington Square South and East 8th Street); 212- 674-7500.
Di Giovanna Sicilia Grillo 2009 - $15
"This white wine is made from a quirky local varietal called Grillo. Full bodied and boasting flavors of peaches, racy acidity, and good minerality make this a no brainer for accompanying an oily fish like Branzino or some braised Kale."
Available at Appellation Wine, 156 10th Avenue (between West 19th and 20th streets); 212-741-9474.
2008 Argiolas 'Perdera' Isola dei Nuraghi, $15 "This wine caught my attention with its smoky rustic character—it reminded me of the sweet smell of a wood burning fireplace. So if you can’t enjoy your own fire, sipping a glass of this wine might be a nice replacement. It’s a medium-bodied wine that kisses full-bodied —firm tannins and savory notes of black olives will definitely hold up to a chilly night."
Available at Gnarly Vines, 350 Myrtle Avenue (between Carlton Avenue and Adelphi Street); Brooklyn; 718- 797-3183.
Wolffer Estate Big Apple Wine NV, $11
"This delicate, fragrant, and off-dry apple wine is worth bending the rules for. No, it’s not made from grapes — instead it’s made from locally grown Fuji, Pink Lady, and Braeburn apples. With a floral aroma, light fruity flavor, and lingering sweetness, this wine doubles as a great desert wine, accompaniment to roasted pork or even lazy-night-in Chinese take out." Available at Bottle Rocket, 5 West 19th Street (between 5th and 6th avenues); 212-929-2323.
Cellar de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica 2008, $15
"This wine is a blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes grown in the Montsant area of Catalonia in Spain. Montsant is an area that almost completely encircles the more famous region of Priorat, known for its ball-busting powerhouse reds. This bottle in particular has a lovely nose of liquorice and spice followed by, on the palate, fresh notes of dark fruit and a streak of earthiness. This is probably the biggest wine on this list, but with its medium-to-full body and sweet tannins it would still go swimmingly with the season’s heavier fare."
Available at Tinto Fino 85 1st Avenue (between East 5th and 6th streets); 212- 254-0850.
Andre Goichot Cotes du Ventoux Blanc 2009, $12
"This white from the Rhône wine region of France is made up mostly of a grape called Roussanne, famous for making rich wines with full body. This bottle has a gorgeous nose of wildflowers and honey that lead into rich flavors of ripe autumn fruits like apples and pears, and a fresh finish. This plush white wine is exactly what you want to pair with a roasted chicken or sautéed fish draped in Beurre Blanc."
Available at Pour Wines, 321 Amsterdam Avenue (at West 77th Street); 212- 501-7687.
Photos: Courtesy of Caroline Helper