In blind tastings, wine experts sometimes prefer an inexpensive bottle over a much more expensive one.

In blind tastings, wine experts sometimes prefer an inexpensive bottle over a much more expensive one.

So wine doesn't have to be expensive to be good. But how are you supposed to know which bottles don't taste cheap?

There's really no way except to ask the shop owner, said Donnie Austin, owner of House Wine in Worthington.

Here, he shares three of his favorite under-$25 wines.


Wallace Brook pinot gris (2008)

Apple and pear with a slight taste of dried flower. "It's got a bit of a fuller mouthfeel to it than some other $10 pinot grigios," Austin said.

Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cost: $10

Pairs well with: Fish or cream-sauce pastas


Bodegas Bor sao Vina Borgi a (2009)

100 percent old-vine grenache that's a bit dry and still has plenty of fruit. "Grenache is best compared to pinot noir; I call it 'poor man's pinot,'" Austin said.

Region: Borja, Spain

Cost: $7

Pairs well with: Anything off the grill, like pork


Finca El Reposo cabernet sauvignon (2007)

Dark berries and other not-overly-ripe fruit; soft pepper. "This is from an area called Cruz de Piedra," Austin explained. "It's the prime zone at the foothill of the Andes, where some of the top vineyards for Mendoza wine grow. This reminds me of a $30 Napa cab."

Region: Mendoza, Argentina

Cost: $10

Pairs well with: Hearty meat dishes like stews, beef or anything braised