No matter how adventurous of a wine drinker you are, there’s value in having your own “house wine,” or a selection of consistently great everyday picks on hand. With a go-to stash to pull from, you can handle any occasion—from an impromptu decision to open a bottle with a casual weeknight dinner to an unexpected guest or last-minute invitation—without eating into your cellar collection. So it's a good idea to stayed stocked up on favorite bottlings and reliable crowd-pleasers—especially during the holiday season.
We asked six sommeliers from Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners to suggest wines worth buying by the case, meaning they’re well-priced, reliable and at least fairly widely available for purchase. Their selections range from an easy-drinking Pinot Noir priced at less than $20 to an affordable, robust Italian red your guests will think you splurged on.
Wine Spectator: Which wines are worth buying by the case?
Zach Bingham, assistant wine director at Best of Award of Excellence winner the Cave Bistro & Wine Bar in Naples, Fla.
Elouan Pinot Noir Oregon Missoulan Wash Reserve 2017 from Willamette Valley, Oregon. Perhaps more of a luxe everyday selection, it completely over-delivers, from the first wave of concentrated aromatics—rich in soil expression and delicate spice—to the sumptuous-yet-not-overbearing palate, ripe in fruit and layered with complexity due to expert winemaking. At $45 average retail price, it remains an outstanding selection for the price.
For an ever better bargain, and truly outperforming in its competitive category, we also are very excited by the Grochau Cellars Commuter Cuvée Pinot Noir, also from Willamette Valley. Proprietor and winemaker John Grochau works closely with over 15 farms around the valley to curate a true cuvée of vintage- and terroir-expressive Pinot Noir. This is, quite intentionally, an easy-drinking, crunchy, vibrant expression of the region, and to retail under $20, it is absolutely worthy of purchasing by the case.
Astrid Young, wine director at Award of Excellence winner Merrill House in Picton, Ontario, Canada
I always recommend Super Tuscans for everyday drinking. You can get amazing quality for the buck, and they are so food-friendly! One of my favorites is Castello Banfi Rosso Centine. It’s widely available and an amazing value. Give it a good decant before you enjoy, and I guarantee your guests will think you splurged. You don’t have to tell them!
For whites, you can’t go wrong with a good Chablis [from Burgundy]. Choose any premier cru from producers like Domaine Vincent Dampt, Bouchard, Grossot or Olivier Leflaive. They are soft, creamy and crisp at the same time, with great freshness and soft citrus notes that delight the palate, from aperitif to wherever you go from there.
Marcello Cancelli, wine director at Boka Restaurant Group in Chicago, which includes Best of Award of Excellence winner Swift & Sons
For an everyday white, find a fresh wine that works well as a sipper and on a budget. Ruffino makes a delicious Orvieto Classico that is widely available and delicious, besides offering a great bang for the buck. For a red, I like Pinot Noir as a daily sipper. Oregon and Willamette Valley wines from stalwart producers offer great value, as do Sonoma County wines. La Crema from Willamette Valley and Cline from Sonoma are widely available and top-notch for the money.
John Miller, wine director at Best of Award of Excellence winner Harbor House Inn in Elk, Calif.
I am a huge fan of Chardonnay; I think the transparency of the grape lends itself to such incredible wines. I often buy cases of Walter Scott Chardonnay from Willamette Valley. I love the linear brightness that this wine has, it’s amazing by itself or as an apéro-style wine.
My favorite house wine is Côtes du Rhône rouge. It's less expensive than Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but a reputable producer like St.-Cosme is a good value to have by the case.
Johan Henrik Kirketerp-Møller, wine director, co-owner and general manager at Restaurant Palægade in Copenhagen, Denmark
2020 Hofgut Falkenstein from Germany’s Mosel region. They make a beautiful series of dry to semi-dry Rieslings that everybody should have a few cases of in their cellar. And 2019 Envinate Lousas Vinas de Aldea, a Mencía-based wine from Spain’s Ribeira Sacra; a beautiful wine made in good quantities for the world to drink.
Want to stay up on the latest news and incisive features about the world's best restaurants for wine? Sign up now for our free Private Guide to Dining email newsletter, delivered every other week. Plus, follow us on Twitter at @WSRestoAwards and Instagram at @WSRestaurantAwards.