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A wine habit can get expensive, especially when you’re tapping into the vintages section. Just ask Stanley Bernard, co-owner, general manager and wine curator at Toronto’s East Thirty-Six. “I love wine so much, but after a while, it can make a dent in your wallet,” he tells us.

You’re probably thinking that buying cheaper wine can be a lot like a game of a chance, but what if it didn’t have to be? “I often challenge myself to try and find wine on the shelves that are in the $10 to $15 range that actually do drink well, Bernard adds. He holds a certificate in Food and Beverage Management from George Brown College, and he also studies with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Basically, he’s a wine connoisseur, and he knows his stuff.

To find good, cheap wine, you don’t need a studied nose (that’s why we’ve wrangled up a wine honcho). To buy like Bernard, just follow his nose. Bernard’s experience is sometimes non-traditional, and comes from thinking outside tried and true vineyards and looking to wines from “less-celebrated, but still established” regions. “Generally speaking, there is great value to be found in Chilean and Argentine wines, as well as those from Portugal.

He also advises us to look beyond popular favourites like Cabernet Sauvignon, and look out for less buzzy varietals like Malbecs or Cabernet Francs. Another hot tip is to try varieties that aren’t traditionally viewed as being native to a region – instead of buying a Burgundy or New Zealand Pinot Noir, look for one from Chile or Argentina.

Whichever of these tips you employ, Bernard encourages you to be adventurous. “Even if you end up buying what you consider to be a waste of a bottle, you’ll have only spent in the $10 to $15 range, and you’ll have one less wine to try!” Sounds like a great way to experiment. But if you want to know what’s both good and cheap right now (and what to pair with ’em), these 11 bottles will get you through the weekends (and weekdays) to come:

 

 

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