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Best New Zealand wines for under $20

21 of the best New Zealand wines for under $20.  Gold Winning red, white & sparkling wines. Affordable, delicious and ready for summer.

Since 2003, the New World Wine Awards has been finding a top drop at a great price. 

Over time, we’ve increased the limit from $20 to $25 to include more quality wines in the competition. This compilation takes us back to our original goal: Helping you find the best tasting wines in New Zealand for under $20.

Read our guide to New Zealand Wine Styles


Squawking Magpie Reserve Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Citrus, gooseberry, lemon blossom

Judges Comments:

Here’s a Sauvignon showing the very ripe flavours of concentrated citrus, lemongrass and Kaffir lime, balanced with crisp acidity and a long textural finish. Sauvignon is a marvellous wine to match with green vegetables like courgettes, fresh peas, artichokes and fresh asparagus. These are all fragrant fresh green vegetables that create the most wonderful risottos.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season’s asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair this wine with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


Roaring Meg Pinot Gris 2019

Variety: Pinot Gris
Region: Otago
Style: Off Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Peach, ripe pear, rock melon, smoky

Judges Comments:

From spectacular Central Otago, even the name creates the image of steep mountains, cascading waterfalls and holiday happy hour. With all the wonderful foods to explore from Central Otago, this is the perfect accompaniment. Flavours that remind you of a juicy ripe peach served with honeydew melon. Juicy acidity with a rich line of spice running through the palate, creating a beguiling smoky texture and a persistent finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

Perfect for light meals, picnics, chips and dips and pasta dishes and a pizza to share. Great with Asian inspired dishes, dumpling, noodles, antipasti. Especially good with blue cheese and soft white cheese, Mexican dishes, pork and coconut-based curry dishes.


te Pā Chardonnay 2019

Variety: Chardonnay
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Citrus, creamy, grapefruit, vanillin oak

Judges Comments:

From a winery with extraordinary sites of great historic value, try this Chardonnay with grilled portobello mushrooms, cooked with grated lemon rind, parsley and a small squeeze of garlic – perfect with crusty bread as a light lunch or served as evening tapas. The wine has beautiful aromas of perfumed white flowers and citrus. The palate is creamy with textured richness and flavours of pink grapefruit and well-integrated vanilla oak.

Pairing Recommendation:

A super versatile wine that enhances all sorts of foods from the Sunday roast, pot-luck dinners, Mexican dishes, burger and ribs, pizza and pasta, as well as light lunches, savoury salads and of course picnics. Pair it with meaty and oily fish like salmon, tuna, hapuka and scallops, crayfish and crab as well as grilled mushrooms. Perfect with chips and dips, antipasti, smoked salmon, pre-dinner nibbles and cheese, particularly mozzarella, brie, camembert and feta.


Morton Estate Brut

Variety: Bubbles
Region: Hawkes Bay
Style: Dry Sparkling Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Brioche

Judges Comments:

Traditionally sparkling wines have been expensive wines for a rare celebration, but at this value you can celebrate many different occasions. Great to welcome the new season’s steamed asparagus. Intense rich concentration with toasted brioche aromas and flavours of yellow apple and raw almonds. Lovely green apple acidity with nice even bubbles and an attractive long textural finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

Bubbles not only add to celebration but are also great with food. Shellfish, like oysters and cockles, also fish dishes like sushi and sashimi – although watch out for wasabi, it’s a wine assassin! Try with Vietnamese and Malayan dishes, antipasti, chips and dips, pizza and pasta and picnics. Serve with light lunches, pork dishes, BBQ’s, Mexican, lighter curry dishes and take to a pot-luck dinner. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella and feta, but its soft ripened cheese like brie and camembert that really shine.


Alpha Domus Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Creamy, cut grass, gooseberry, tropical fruit

Judges Comments:

This Sauvignon Blanc is a wonderful pairing for Thai food, particularly green curries. Enjoy this wine at your local Thai BYO, with a takeaway or with your own Thai cuisine creations. Big, mouth-filling, rich and punchy, still very youthful with the creamy complexity from a small addition of Semillon done very well. The finish is long and balanced.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season’s asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


Waiata Waipara Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Canterbury
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Cut grass, fresh herbs, gooseberry

Judges Comments:

A great example of Waipara Sauvignon Blanc, from just north of Christchurch. Waiata vineyard promotes fruit driven wines and here they deliver in bucket loads. The classic flavours of cool climate Sauvignon, which New Zealand is famous for, are all here. Gooseberry, leafy herbs, green bean sprouts balanced with exquisite crunchy acidity, a real head turner.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season’s asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


Running With Bulls Tempranillo 2019

Variety: Single Variety Reds
Region: Australia
Style: Medium Bodied Red Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Cedar wood, dark berry fruits, red berry fruits

Judges Comments:

While small amounts of Tempranillo are being grown in New Zealand, it’s not common and is still an adventure to try. This is a famous wine of Spain, also grown in Australia where this beauty comes from. Great to pair with BBQ, gourmet burgers and grilled chorizo sausage. The colour is primary deep red, perfumed aromas of warmed red fruits and a suggestion of fennel. Plum wine with silky mouthfeel and firm tannins balanced by succulent juiciness.

Pairing Recommendation:

The mainstay of Spanish wines, obviously dishes that are meat or contain chorizo have to be high on the list… Spanish pork ribs, paella as well as classic tapas. Also good with hamburgers, chilli chicken and chilli crab, aubergine and chargrilled capsicum, courgettes as well as pizza. Pair this hard or aged cheese like cheddar, gouda and pecorino.


Mount Brown Estates Pinot Noir 2019

Variety: Pinot Noir
Region: Canterbury
Style: Medium Bodied Red Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Cherry fruit, mushrooms, spicy

Judges Comments:

From a small winery in North Canterbury operated by a father and daughter team, this is a wine that pairs perfectly with the local lamb. Try a slow roasted shoulder of lamb served with a fresh green salad. Sweet ripe fruit, spicy tannins and a nice savoury mushroom character with great concentration of flavour yet still delicate. Engaging length of flavour with a rich textural finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

Complementing a wide range of dishes from reasonably robust to restrained and elegant. Great with salmon or the Sunday roast, burger and ribs or steak, sausages, chicken, lamb, pork belly and game, take to a pot-luck dinner or BBQ. Versatile enough for antipasti, cheeses like brie, camembert, feta and mozzarella, pizza and pasta.


The Crater Rim "From the Ashes" Pinot Noir 2019

Variety: Pinot Noir
Region: Canterbury
Style: Medium Bodied Red Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Cherry fruit, dark berry fruits, spicy

Judges Comments:

Here is the single partner to an Italian style dinner – start with bruschetta, follow with pasta tossed with a roast tomato and fresh herb sauce, then chicken cacciatore, and this one wine will pair with them all! Too easy. Produced in Waipara, just north of Christchurch, ripe red fruits with an exotic hint of pepper and an attractive tension between fruit and tannins. Layers of really spicy fruit and a rounded textural mouthfeel, topped with an engaging long finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

Complementing a wide range of dishes from reasonably robust to restrained and elegant. Great with salmon or the Sunday roast, burger and ribs or steak, sausages, chicken, lamb, pork belly and game, take to a pot-luck dinner or BBQ. Versatile enough for antipasti, cheeses like brie, camembert, feta and mozzarella, pizza and pasta.


Two Rivers Convergence Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Marlborough
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Gooseberry, passionfruit, tropical fruit

Judges Comments:

Two Rivers recognises the importance of the Wairau and Awatere Rivers, which make up the spiritual heart of Marlborough’s wine region. New Zealand has great winemakers and great vineyard sites, and when you get the two of them together magic happens. This year’s Champion Sauvignon Blanc has aromas and flavours of red capsicums and nectarine with a captivating creamy texture. Crisp acidity and great concentration with weight follows through to a long finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

The refreshing acidity is a terrific complement to Vietnamese and Thai, antipasti and pre dinner nibbles, Warm beet salad, goats cheese tart, chips and dips and pizza or pasta. New Zealand green lipped mussels are a spectacular pairing, as are green vegetables, like courgettes, fresh peas and of course new season’s asparagus, which are also great for a picnic or light lunch. Pair with cheeses like mozzarella, feta and goats cheese.


Rocky Point Pinot Gris 2020

Variety: Pinot Gris
Region: Otago
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Ripe pear

Judges Comments:

From Central Otago’s Pisa and Bendigo regions, here’s a wine that’s a terrific match with a double cream cheese on crackers spiced up with a touch of honeycomb, or pork and coriander stuffed dumplings. Pale and superbly made with an intriguing spice line through the palate. Dry with bracing acidity and medium weight. A lovely texture and long finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

Perfect for light meals, picnics, chips and dips and pasta dishes and a pizza to share. Great with Asian inspired dishes, dumpling, noodles, antipasti. Especially good with blue cheese and soft white cheese, Mexican dishes, pork and coconut-based curry dishes.


Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Syrah 2019

Variety: Shiraz and Syrah
Region: Hawkes Bay
Style: Full Bodied Red Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Black pepper, blackberry and blueberry, dark berry fruits, plums

Judges Comments:

If you were going to select wines based on quality and consistency, then this wine would have to be high on your list. It’s been awarded a Gold medal in this competition for its 2015, 2017 and now 2019 vintages. Made with grapes predominantly grown in the Gimblett Gravel region in the Hawke’s Bay, this wine has great weight and concentration with youthful fruit purity – plums, blueberry and a touch of black pepper. A very polished and complete wine.

Pairing Recommendation:

Shiraz is often a powerful rich wine that's perfect with big rich flavours. Try it with burger and ribs, steak, sausages and game dishes. Take to a pot-luck dinner or a BBQ with the neighbours and, of course, wonderful with the Sunday roast. Syrah is the same grape, but often a wine that is more medium bodied, great with pizza and pasta dishes, game, especially duck and rabbit. BBQ lamb and slow cooked meat dishes, as well as a simple steak with green beans and potato fries. Pair this hard or aged cheese like cheddar, gouda and pecorino.


Waiata Waipara Pinot Noir Rosé 2020

Variety: Rosé
Region: Canterbury
Style: Dry Rosé
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Creamy, strawberry

Judges Comments:

This is a wine that’s graceful and light on its feet. Very pretty pink colour, flavours of strawberries with an underlying creamy texture. Superb balance, spicy acidity, juicy and very long persistent finish. It’s from a winery with a focus on the concept of ‘extended whanau’ of family and friends sharing good times, good food and good spaces together, along with wines that are expressions of the land.

Pairing Recommendation:

A very underrated food wine, this is ideal with a summer’s day picnic, antipasti or a light lunch. Great with pre-dinner nibbles, pizza and your favourite pasta dish. Try with scallops, seafood, Japanese dishes like chicken yakitori, Japanese curries and sweeter Indian curries and Mexican dishes, also soft cheeses like brie and camembert, mozzarella and feta.


The Crater Rim Waipara Viognier 2019

Variety: Aromatics
Region: Canterbury
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Peach, spices, vanillin oak, white blossom

Judges Comments:

Originally from the northern Rhone Valley in France ‘vee-on-yay’ is not a wine we see often in New Zealand. Although it’s dry, this is a gorgeous accompaniment to citrus based dishes, stewed apple and apricot, as well as leafy aromatic herbs like basil and tarragon. Like Chardonnay on steroids, a sort of wine for all seasons. Ripe peach, ginger and spicy floral notes with a hint of vanilla. The palate is creamy and generous, long lasting with balanced fruit flavour and acid.

Pairing Recommendation:

Another great taste discovery, the wines were originally from the Rhone Valley in south-eastern France where they are really into food! Perfect with seafood, veal, pork, chicken just about any style. It works with cinnamon and cardamom, coriander, ginger and creamy curries. Don't miss out on pairing with cheese, soft double and even triple cream cheeses as well as soft blue like gorgonzola, as well as gruyere.


Leveret Estate Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2019

Variety: Chardonnay
Region: Hawkes Bay
Style: Dry White Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Creamy, peach, stone fruit, vanillin oak

Judges Comments:

If you’re looking for that last minute dinner party wine, the one where you need to impress, cover all the bases of acceptable flavours and complete the illusion that you’re in control of your life, then here is the wine. Pale yellow with white peach and balanced vanilla oak, the palate is creamy with ripe stone fruit and a striking tension between the fruit, acidity and tannins, creating a seductive harmony. Great length and a fabulous food match.

Pairing Recommendation:

A super versatile wine that enhances all sorts of foods from the Sunday roast, pot-luck dinners, Mexican dishes, burger and ribs, pizza and pasta, as well as light lunches, savoury salads and of course picnics. Pair it with meaty and oily fish like salmon, tuna, hapuka and scallops, crayfish and crab as well as grilled mushrooms. Perfect with chips and dips, antipasti, smoked salmon, pre-dinner nibbles and cheese, particularly mozzarella, brie, camembert and feta.


SOHO White Collection Harry Rosé 2020

Variety: Rosé
Region: Marlborough
Style: Off Dry Rosé
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Raspberry

Judges Comments:

Great Rosé in very stylish packaging, so all bases are covered. The ideal wine to take to impromptu events on early warm summer evenings, it’s a great ‘drinks and nibbles’ choice which will take you through to dinner. Understated with soft sweet spices, lovely textural acidity balanced by raspberries and a hint of sweetness, with a long crisp finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

A very underrated food wine, this is ideal with a summer’s day picnic, antipasti or a light lunch. Great with pre-dinner nibbles, pizza and your favourite pasta dish. Try with scallops, seafood, Japanese dishes like chicken yakitori, Japanese curries and sweeter Indian curries and Mexican dishes, also soft cheeses like brie and camembert, mozzarella and feta.


Borthwick Paper Road Pinot Noir 2019

Variety: Pinot Noir
Region: Wairarapa
Style: Medium Bodied Red Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Cedar wood, cherry fruit, tamarillo

Judges Comments:

From the small, high quality wine-producing area of Gladstone, just over the hill from Wellington. Beetroot, mushrooms and duck are all extraordinary when paired with this Pinot Noir. Perfumed cedar, ripe black cherry and tamarillo fruit aromas extend through the palate, giving a gentle complexity. A very rich, polished wine with great length of flavour.

Pairing Recommendation:

Complementing a wide range of dishes from reasonably robust to restrained and elegant. Great with salmon or the Sunday roast, burger and ribs or steak, sausages, chicken, lamb, pork belly and game, take to a pot-luck dinner or BBQ. Versatile enough for antipasti, cheeses like brie, camembert, feta and mozzarella, pizza and pasta.


De Bortoli Woodfired Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Variety: Single Variety Reds
Region: Australia
Style: Full Bodied Red Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Blackberry and blueberry, cassis, cedar wood, dark berry fruits, mint, spicy

Judges Comments:

Grown in the ancient red Cambrian soils of the Heathcote region of Northern Victoria and so good it's been awarded the Champion Single Variety Red. Winemaker Steve Webber reckons it's perfect with a chargrilled steak, I guess that's why he calls it 'woodfired'. Attractive high-toned cassis, blueberry, mint and spicy oak aromas, the palate is elegant and supple with juicy fruit that finishes with firm tannins and appealing linearity.

Pairing Recommendation:

Robust wines for robust food flavours. Try with the Sunday roast, burger and ribs, steak, sausages or game. Great with pizza and tomato-based pasta dishes. Take to a pot-luck dinner or a BBQ with good friends. Pair this hard or aged cheese like cheddar, gouda and pecorino.


MIDDLE-EARTH™ Pinot Meunier Rosé 2020

Variety: Rosé
Region: Nelson
Style: Off Dry Rosé
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Strawberry

Judges Comments:

This Rosé is produced from a very uncommon grape, Pinot Meunier. This is normally the third grape in the Champagne trio along with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. A wine that demonstrates the amazing range of this grape, from dark red to sparkling white to this light pink Rosé. Great with scallops and clams or fresh kina. Delicate strawberry aromas reveal a vibrant palate, beautifully textured acidity and a long delicate finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

A very underrated food wine, this is ideal with a summer’s day picnic, antipasti or a light lunch. Great with pre-dinner nibbles, pizza and your favourite pasta dish. Try with scallops, seafood, Japanese dishes like chicken yakitori, Japanese curries and sweeter Indian curries and Mexican dishes, also soft cheeses like brie and camembert, mozzarella and feta.


The Hunting Lodge Expressions Lavish Merlot Malbec 2019

Variety: Red Blends
Region: Hawkes Bay
Style: Full Bodied Red Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Dark berry fruits, fruit cake, plums, spices

Judges Comments:

A wonderful combination of two grapes you don't often see blended together. Pair this with grilled lamb chops served with an olive tapenade made with orange zest, parsley and celery leaves. Dark red fruits and a lovely spice from the Malbec. Wonderfully approachable, the palate is textural with an inviting creaminess that balances the tannin. Beautiful oak integration and a long finish gives this wine another dimension.

Pairing Recommendation:

These tend to be blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Grenache, Malbec, so the same foods that match the individual varieties also work here. These tend to be robust wines for robust food flavours. Try with the Sunday roast, burger and ribs, lamb, steak, sausages, chicken or game. Great with pizza and tomato-based pasta dishes. Take to a pot-luck dinner or a BBQ with good friends. With vegetarian menus, look for savoury flavours like mushroom, beetroot, aubergine, tomato and red wine sauces, olives, braised celery and onion-based dishes. Pair this hard or aged cheese like cheddar, gouda and pecorino.


Graham Norton's Own Prosecco

Variety: Bubbles
Region: Italy
Style: Dry Sparkling Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Apple, citrus, lemon zest, white blossom

Judges Comments:

Italian bubbles, that are now popular in the UK, where Graham Norton has created a star quality wine. Create your own star quality match by serving this with a fig and crispy pancetta salad on a bed of rocket. An edgy Prosecco with white flowers and bright lemony acidity and a constant even bead. Ripe fruit structure with upfront rockmelon and ambrosia apple. Fresh, precise and crisp with a long dry finish.

Pairing Recommendation:

This is an Italian wine that pairs well with seafood and cheeses and cured meats. The dryer styles are brilliant with canapés (nibbles) and antipasti boards (olives, chutneys, cured meats) while the sweeter Prosecco work well with fresh fruits, raspberries, figs and ham as well as cake! Pair with cheeses like mozzarella and feta.


Woods Crampton Barossa Valley Shiraz 2018

Variety: Shiraz and Syrah
Region: Australia
Style: Full Bodied Red Wine
Price: $15 to $20
Key flavours: Blackberry and blueberry, creamy, dark berry fruits, vanillin oak

Judges Comments:

Gold medal in the 2018 New World Wine Awards and another in 2020, this is consistently good wine with a strong pedigree. It's a natural pairing for BBQs and really any get-togethers that involve friends, family and good food. A big rich juicy wine with dark red fruits. A textural wine with length and creaminess, along with selectively well-handled oak.

Pairing Recommendation:

Shiraz is often a powerful rich wine that's perfect with big rich flavours. Try it with burger and ribs, steak, sausages and game dishes. Take to a pot-luck dinner or a BBQ with the neighbours and, of course, wonderful with the Sunday roast. Syrah is the same grape, but often a wine that is more medium bodied, great with pizza and pasta dishes, game, especially duck and rabbit. BBQ lamb and slow cooked meat dishes, as well as a simple steak with green beans and potato fries. Pair this hard or aged cheese like cheddar, gouda and pecorino.

Wines for any occasion

These wines represent the peak of all the gold medal-winning wines under $20. Whether you’re looking for sparkling, Rosé, red or white, there are many more quality, award-winning wines under $20 for you to explore. 

All of our New World Wine Awards winners are available now and ready for you to share and enjoy. Shop here, or you can find them at your local New World.

Happy to step up to $25 a bottle? Take a look at our pick of all the best New Zealand wines of 2020. Or, use our wine finder tool to search for a wine that takes your fancy.

Whatever the occasion, these award winning red wines are ready for you to share and enjoy.

Related article:

Latest wine trends in 2020
Best New Zealand red wines
Best New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs
Top white wines of 2020
8 of the best Pinot Noirs of 2020

Jim Harre - about the author

After studying viticulture and winemaking at Hawkes Bay’s Eastern Institute of Technology, Jim worked several vintages, both in New Zealand and Internationally as a winemaker.

Identified as having a very good palate for quality assessment of wine, Jim has been a major part of New Zealand’s Wine Judging competitions for over 25 years. Now a well respected International Judge, he works as a Chair of Judges in Wine Competitions in USA, Japan, China, Australia and, of course, New Zealand.

He is also regarded as a world authority on the effect of how wine perception changes in aircraft, a panel chair at the world’s largest competition; the International Wine Challenge, held each year in London; as well as Wine Consultant to Air New Zealand.

It is Jim’s love of education and teaching people about wine that makes him one of New Zealand’s most recognised Wine professionals.