I recently participated in a small blind tasting in which two $40 Cabernets bested some much pricier rivals. I also have just finished sampling a case of $30 Chardonnay with an eye towards the upcoming holidays. Both experiences have confirmed a long held belief of mine. You don’t have to spend a fortune for great wine. Yeah I know, not revelatory.
 
Of course this may seem to be entirely obvious, as it should be. The distinction I’m making here is that you don’t have to spend a fortune for great California Cabernet or Chardonnay, even from prestigious appellations such as Napa Valley. It’s always been easy to recommend less expensive wines as a substitute for these wines. Chardonnay from Argentina or Cabernet from Chile for example, not to mention things like Loire Valley Cabernet Franc or generally disdainful “anything instead of Chardonnay, might I suggest Muscadet?”