Cheap Wine That Doesn't Suck: The Underdog Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is forever the underdog, settling for whatever flickers of limelight its better-known Chardonnay partner might cast aside. 

But Sauvignon Blanc actually has much to offer. For one, it's almost always cheaper than Chardonnay, which can demand premium prices no matter how insipid the wine in the bottle. For another, it usually has real varietal character, unlike the vast, dreary number of Chardonnays that taste less of good, honest fruit than of overripe pears soaked in alcohol and finished with wood chips. And for a third, it's a terrific accompaniment to all kinds of food, especially the fresh fish and shellfish so abundant here in South Florida. All of which makes it an excellent value. 

Few Sauvignon Blancs offer more value, character, and food-friendliness than those from Chilean vintner Veramonte. Typically retailing for less than $10, these wines deliver a crisp, refreshing shot of grapefruit, lemon-lime, and herb without excess alcohol (only 13.5 percent) and ponderous oak fermentation or aging (it's fermented in stainless steel and doesn't touch a plank of wood). Even better, as a wine with a low price, plenty of character, and absolutely no hoity pretensions, you'll likely never find it in the glasses of the Hilton sisters.

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