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I can't pass a wine store without going in because I'm always on the search for the best selection at the lowest prices. Plus, it allows me to be always prepared in case I need a bottle. Here are some of my favorites from across the country.

• BANGOR WINE & CHEESE CO. – Bangor, Maine – Twitter: @BangorWine
They don't really have a website to speak of, however, if you happen to find yourself in this tiny town they are a must stop shop. They have monthly tastings and a wide range of wines and cheeses from around the world. read more...

• BRIX WINE SHOP – Boston, Massachusetts
What do you do when you only have one day to spend in Boston. If you're me, you wander the city looking at wine shops. Of course, if your first stop is Brix, you need look no further. With two locations, one in the South End and one in the Financial District, owners Carri Wroblewski and Klaudia Mally have the city well covered. The shops are airy, classy and contain a great variety of wines from every region in every price point. Plus, they're friendly and know what they're talking about. There are weekly complementary tastings in both shops to showcase their selections. The best shop in town. Trust me, I went to them all.

• CHRONICLE WINE CELLAR – Pasadena, CA
Located behind Pie & Burger in what used to be a 2-bedroom apartment, this shop is a must for anyone looking for great wine for a great deal. How they get such a big selection in such a tiny space is something you'll have to see for yourself.

• DOMAINE LA – Los Angeles, CA – Twitter: @domaineLA
There's nothing intimidating or snobby about this quietly cool wine shop on Melrose, located between LaBrea and Highland. What started as an online venture for owner Jill Bernheimer became a physical reality last September when she opened her doors and began spreading her love of interesting, well-priced wines. With her inventory slowly growing – the store carries 400+ bottles – she's well on her way to being a true force in this food-driven neighborhood. She hits all the bases, but France, California & Bubbles are the main draw. She really knows her stuff, so stop by and pick her brain while you're picking up a bottle. Or two.

• DORNANS – Moose, Wyoming
This shop is located just outside Grand Teton Nat'l Park, north of Jackson Hole. It's a consistent winner of the Wine Spectator's Award of Excellance for a good reason. Not only do they have an amazing selection at great prices, they're also in the middle of nowhere. Which is a godsend if you're looking for good wine in the wilderness. read more...

• K&L WINE MERCHANTS – Hollywood, CA – Twitter: @klwines
Finally the Wine House has some decent competition in the area when it comes to quantity, selection, service and value. Located across from the Arclight Theater, K&L has come into this booming neighborhood at just the right time. Unlike some stores in the area, the staff is knowlegdable and friendly. Their selection of French, Italian and Spanish wines is quite impressive. The New Zealand, Australian and Californian sections are slimmer than I expected, but very well chosen. Their tastings on Thursday nights and Saturday afternoons are informal and informative.

• MISSION WINES – So. Pasadena, CA
This may be a small shop, but their wide selection of small, top quality producers in every price point makes shopping here feel like a treasure hunt. Owner Chris Meeske is an experienced sommelier and knows every bottle in the store. His passion for wine makes shopping here fun and all the employees make an effort to help you find that perfect bottle. Their wine tastings on Saturday afternoons (Noon-5pm) are a good bargain and a chance to try what the store has to offer at whatever pace you want to go at. Sitting around and talking about wine is encouraged. If you're in Pasadena, this is a must-stop.

• SILVERLAKE WINE – Los Angeles, CA – Twitter: @silverlakewine
This is the kind of store I wish would open in my neighborhood. Of course, if I lived closer they'd have all my money. It's not a large shop, but their inventory covers all regions in every price point and their staff knows something about all of them. They clearly love what they're doing and are having a great time doing it, which shows in they various tastings they hold every week. Blue Monday delivers 3 very decent pours of unusual, inexpensive wines for $12 along with a lovely cheese board to pick at. Reservations are required for Sunday's food and wine pairing, which is $20 for 5 wines and appropriatly chosen nibbles – the best deal in the city. I don't have enough space to talk about everything they do. Just trust me that you'll learn something new in a very fun and casual setting. If you live in LA, these are wine people you need to know.

• TABLE & VINE – Northampton & West Springfield, Massachusetts
Both locations are enormous and filled with everything a wine lover could want. There's almost too much wine to choose from. I could happily wander the aisles for hours, which is why I try to go alone. The friendly staff will help you find the wine to suit your taste. They also carry a wide selection of cheese, beer and spirits. A one-stop gourmet delight. Weekly tastings on Saturday.

• WADE'S WINES – Westlake Village, California
This shop is kind of hard to find, but for lover's of central coast wines it's a must stop. Wade's specializes in hard to find labels and bottles from the smaller boutique wineries that you can usually only get if you're on their mailing list or get lucky to score an appointment. You pay full winery price here, but if you just have to have that Tensley, Kenneth Crawford, McPrice Myers, Saxum or Piedrasassi, this is the place you'll find it. They only carry token wines from other regions, so if you're looking for a great Italian or French wine you won't have a lot of options. They do, however, carry over 2000 different tequilas, vodkas, single malt and blended scotches. Believe me you've never seen so many liqour bottles in your life. Wade and his staff know every bottle in the store and are super helpful. Their wine tastings on Friday and Saturdays are affordable and fun.

• WINE DISCOUNT CENTER – Barrington, Illinois
This shop isn't fancy, just aisles of wine from all over the world at great prices. They do monthly tastings of all the wines they recommend in their newsletter. For $10 you get to try 30 wines. They also have weekly free tastings on Saturday. If I lived closer, this would be my home base. They are also super friendly and know the wines in their store inside and out, which is hard to come by. The wines we purchased delivered great bang for the buck, especially in the under $20 range. Each bottle also has a card describing the wine inside, a very helpful tool that allows you to quickly find something you should enjoy.

• THE WINE HOUSE – Los Angeles, California
Hands down the biggest selection for the best prices in the city. Great classes and a new automated tasting area that lets you try 32 different wines (that change regularly) with fees from $1 to $18 (for the Phelps Insignia). A great way to explore the wine world without committing to a bottle you may not like. Great wine bar and restaurant on the top floor called Upstairs 2, which features wine flights and small plates. Though their location right off the freeway is convenient, it's not exactly fancy. Most extensive Italian selection in the city. My one complaint is that it's not the most consumer friendly shop, with few descriptions and wines piled by region, but not in any discernible order. Thankfully they have plenty of staff to help you find what you're looking for.


Top rated wines all under $20

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