The pandemic limited wine travel again this year. From social media, I know some lucky people were able to time trips between variants. Or they decided to brave covid-testing mandates and entry and re-entry isolation requirements to satisfy their overwhelming wanderlust. For many of us, travel in 2021 was again mostly virtual, through the modern technology of video chats and the ancient gift of wine.

I hope the 255 wines I recommended this year helped salve (or maybe stoke) your thirst for travel by bringing flavors of the world to your glass. About half of those received my great value designation, a very personal label for wines that bring extra excitement and bang for the buck. My great values ranged in price from $6.25 — the bottle equivalent for a 3-liter box wine — to $60 for a sublime 4-star premier cru champagne (both reviewed this month). After slipping to second place last year, France reclaimed the lead with 29 great values, nudging Italy’s 28. The United States contributed 16.

Iberia continues to be a value powerhouse — combined, Spain (with 20) and Portugal (with nine) would have tied France. And they claim the top two spots in this year’s greatest values, my fifth annual list of my favorite wines under $20.

Choosing 12 to feature here is not easy. I look for a variety of styles, grapes and regions to reflect the diversity of the market and the hard work done by winemakers, importers and retailers. Mostly, I chose wines that excited, surprised and delighted me. Many more could have made this list. Once chosen, I determined the rankings using a simple formula that combines price with my quality rating. So you will see a 2.5-star wine ranked above a 3-star bottle if its price is lower.

My top-choice for this year is actually new. I tasted the Pioneiro red blend from Portugal’s Setubal Peninsula just a few weeks ago and was impressed by how well the flavors persisted and developed over several days — a feature that shows quality not often found at $12 a bottle. So consider it recommendation 256, and greatest value No. 1.

Last year’s top choice was a boxed wine from Chile. This year, the 3-liter format makes the list twice, with the Independent tempranillo from Spain at No. 2 and a juicy barbera from Italy called simply Fred, at No. 5. I could have filled nearly half this list with boxed wines, a promising sign that consumers are increasingly receptive to this eco-friendly format and wineries are listening and offering better quality wines.

As always with a year-end list, some of these wines have moved to the next vintage. Use these recommendations as a guide to look for other wines from these producers. I have updated the store lists to reflect the distributors’ assessment of current availability. And although I recently began including the weight of bottles in my reviews, I’m not doing so here, because I don’t have that information for all of these wines.

Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

12. L'Ecole No. 41 Chenin Blanc Old Vines 2020

(Excellent/Extraordinary)

Yakima Valley, Wash., $19

This wine from a pioneer Washington winery is made from grapes grown in vineyards planted in the 1970s and thankfully kept to chenin blanc instead of grafting over or replanting to something more fashionable and profitable. Look for ripe peach and apple flavors with a hint of lemon rind and a rich mouthfeel, and taste a little history. Alcohol by volume: 13.5 percent.

Distributed by Winebow: Available in the District at Batch 13, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Calvert Woodley, Classy Corks Wine & Spirits, Davis Market, Hop, Cask & Barrel, Rodman’s, Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. Available in Maryland at Bradley Food & Beverage, Georgetown Square Wine and Beer, Shuvam Beer and Wine in Bethesda; the Corner Market, Parkway Deli & Restaurant in Silver Spring; Cranbrook Liquors in Cockeysville; Downtown Crown Beer and Wine, Finewine.com, Grape Expectations in Gaithersburg; Grosvenor Market in Rockville; Knowles Station Wine & Co., Old Town Market in Kensington; Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits in Fulton; Montgomery County Wine & Liquor Stores (various locations); Patuxent Wine & Spirits in Lusby; Takoma Beverage Co. in Takoma Park, Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore; Wine World Beer & Spirits in Abingdon. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington; Cheesetique (Alexandria).

11. Plantagenet Wines, Omrah Pinot Noir 2020

(Extraordinary)

Great Southern, Australia, $19

An intriguing pinot combining a New World sense of adventure with gamy flavors that conjure images of cherries, tree bark and the day’s kill on a grill tantalizingly out of sight, all wrapped in silky elegance. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Imported and distributed in the District and Maryland by Artisans & Vines, distributed in Virginia by LK Wine Tours & Sales: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Calvert Woodley, Classy Corks Wine & Spirits, Dupont Market, MacArthur Beverages, Old City Market and Oven, Rodman’s, Streets Market (Cleveland Park). Available in Maryland at 818 Market in Catonsville; Absolutely Wine or Spirits, Aida Bistro, Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia; Apple Greene Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk; Beer, Wine & Co., Bradley Food & Beverage, Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda; Beers & Cheers Too, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg; Bella’s, the Italian Market in Annapolis; Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; the Bottle Shop in Potomac; Cheers & Spirits in Arnold; Dunkirk Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk; Fairgrounds Discount Beverages in Timonium; Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store in Hyattsville; Greenbelt Co-Op in Greenbelt; Grosvenor Market in Rockville; Locavino in Silver Spring; Magothy Wine & Spirits in Severna Park; Old Farm Liquors, Orion Wine & Spirits in Frederick; the Perfect Pour, Wine Bin in Ellicott City; Potomac Grocer in Potomac; UnCorked in Towson; Wine Works in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie; Murphy Beverage in Winchester.

10. Green & Social Rueda 2020

(Excellent/Extraordinary)

Spain, $14

Sometimes a delicious wine can make you feel good in more ways than one. There’s a lot of information about this wine on the label: It’s made with organic grapes certified by the Council of Ecological Agriculture of Castilla y León. It’s certified as vegan by the European Vegetarian Union. The closure (the proper word for a cork that isn’t made of cork) is made from sugar cane-based polymers with zero carbon footprint. The capsule over that closure is made from recyclable plastic-free aluminum. The label is recycled paper, and the lightweight bottle is made from recycled glass “to minimize emissions.” The co-op winery, established in 1935, supports 383 rural families and promotes gender equality. I will add that the wine is delicious, with flavors of stone fruit and a fresh hint of citrusy acidity. Applause for an outfit producing lovely wine and taking extra steps to do right by their people and Earth. ABV: 14.1 percent.

Imported and distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Magruder’s, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Beer, Wine & Co. in Bethesda; College Square Liquors in Westminster; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Eddie’s Liquors, Wells Discount Liquors in Baltimore; Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville; Foundry Row Wine & Spirits in Owings Mills; Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits in Fulton; Mt. Airy Liquors in Mt. Airy; Roots Market in Olney; Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; Town & Country Wine Liquors Etc. in Easton; Viniferous in Frederick; Wine World Beer & Spirits in Abingdon. Available in Virginia at Belmont Butchery, Leek & Thistle, Richmond Wine Station, Union Market, Yellow Umbrella Provisions in Richmond; Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean; Fredericksburg Food Cooperative in Fredericksburg; Pagan River Wine Merchants in Smithfield; Roots 657 in Leesburg; the Wine Outlet in Vienna; Woodstock Cafe & Shoppes in Woodstock.

9. MAN Family Wines Free-Run Steen Chenin Blanc 2020/2021

(Excellent)

Coastal Region, South Africa, $11

MAN is an acronym from the initials of the wives of the three guys who started the label. So, yes, they decided to honor their wives by naming their wine “MAN.” At least the wine’s delicious. This is a white I could enjoy every day, made from chenin blanc grown on bush vines, using only free-run juice (without mechanically pressing the grapes). Crisp and clean, with orchard fruit flavors and bright acidity, it’s pure pleasure. I recommended the 2020 vintage back in August; the D.C. and Maryland distributor has since switched to the 2021. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Imported by Vineyard Brands. Distributed in the District and Maryland by Bacchus, in Virginia by Winebow: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Barmy Wines & Liquors, the Bottle House, Calvert Woodley, Capitol Supreme Market, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Church Hall, D’Vines, Irving Wine & Spirits, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Sherry’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Wagshal’s Deli, Wagshal’s on New Mexico, Yes Organic Market (Eighth Street SE). Widely available in Maryland, including at A&A Wine & Spirits in Gambrills; Apple Greene Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk; Bennett’s Thrifty Liquors in Chesapeake City; Bin 201 Wine Sellers, Eastport Liquors in Annapolis; Bin 604 Wine Sellers, Canton Crossing Wine + Spirits, Grand Cru, Henninger’s Tavern, NiHao, Outpost American Tavern, Wells Discount Liquors, Wine Source in Baltimore; Fenwick Beer & Wine in Silver Spring; Grapes & Grains Beverage Store in Timonium; Highland Wine & Spirits in Highland; Iron Bridge Wine Co. in Columbia; Magothy Wine & Spirits in Severna Park; Montgomery County Wine & Liquor Stores (King Farm, Rockville); Rodman’s (White Flint); Village Beer & Fine Wine in Rockville. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington; Dominion Wine & Beer in Falls Church; Unwined (King Street) in Alexandria.

8. Legado del Moncayo Garnacha 2019/2020

(Excellent/Extraordinary)

Campo de Borja, Spain, $12

Campo de Borja is known for inexpensive, delicious garnacha, a prototype juicy, fun red wine, and this gorgeous, gulpable example shows why. Unencumbered by oak, it simply tastes of fruit — think cherry, blackberry, boysenberry and plum. There must also be smiles inside, because it’s difficult to taste it without breaking into a wide one. The importer is now selling the 2020 vintage. The winery also produces a fine garnacha called Montaña from older vines that is aged in oak for several months. ABV: 14.5 percent.

Imported by Grapes of Spain, distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Eye Street Cellars, Odd Provisions, Rodman’s, Streets Market (Adams Morgan), Wine & Butter. Available in Maryland at Beers & Cheers Too, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; the Bottle Shop in Potomac; Butchers Alley, Capital Beer & Wine, Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda; Cheers & Spirits in Arnold; Crescent Wine & Spirits in Bowie; Decanter Fine Wines in Columbia; Gilly’s Craft Beer and Fine Wine, Grosvenor Deli, Twinbrook Deli, Village Beer & Fine Wine in Rockville; Hop N Grape in North Bethesda; Howard Wine & Spirits in Elkridge; Kenilworth Wine & Spirits, UnCorked in Towson; Knowles Station Wine & Co. in Kensington; Rodman’s (Wheaton, White Flint); Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; State Line Liquors in Elkton; Trout Liquors in Frederick; Wells Discount Liquors, Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese in Arlington; La Tienda in Williamsburg; Wine Gallery 108 in Alexandria.

7. Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

(Excellent/Extraordinary)

Paso Robles, Calif., $15

If Napa Valley cabernet is pricey for your budget, Paso Robles is all too eager to step in and meet your red wine needs. The Robert Hall cabernet is deep in color, plush in texture and rich with flavors of black currant and blackberries, spiced with cocoa and coffee. It achieves all this without tasting as though it had been made in a laboratory. ABV: 14.5 percent.

Distributed by Breakthru: Available in the District at A-1 Wines & Liquors, Benning Liquors, Capitol Fine Wine and Spirits, Chevy Chase Wine & Spirits, Classy Corks Wine & Spirits, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, Hayden’s Liquor, McReynold’s Liquors, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Rodman’s. Widely available in Maryland. Available in Virginia at Ashburn Wine Shop in Ashburn; Harris Teeter (various locations); Kroger in Charlottesville; Total Wine & More (Fredericksburg, McLean, Reston); Westover Market in Arlington.

6. Generation 1905 Grenache 2019

(Excellent/Extraordinary)

France, $12

The label suggests a simple country wine, a vin de France, designed to fill a price gap created by the recent rise in Côtes-du-Rhône reds. But this is a surprisingly nuanced wine for $12. It caught my attention with the second or third sip, and seized my imagination by the fifth. ABV: 14.5 percent.

Imported by Tri-Vin, distributed in the District and Maryland by DMV, in Virginia by Robins Cellars: Available in the District at Lee’s Market, Magruder’s, Morris Miller Wine & Liquor, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s, Yes Organic Market (Brookland, Capitol Hill, Cleveland Park, Petworth). Available in Maryland at 49 West Coffeehouse, Winebar & Gallery, Eastport Liquors in Annapolis; A&A Wine & Spirits in Gambrills; Apple Greene Wine & Spirits, Dunkirk Wine & Spirits in Dunkirk; Beer, Wine & Co., Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda; Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Canton Crossing Wine + Spirits in Baltimore; Cindy’s Spirits in Elkridge; Dawson’s Liquors in Severna Park; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, Finewine.com, Pinky & Pepe’s Grape Escape in Gaithersburg; Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold; Frederick Wine House, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Hair O’ the Dog in Easton; Highland Wine & Spirits in Highland; Parkway Deli & Restaurant, Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; Port of Call Liquors in Solomons; Rollins Beer-Wine-Deli in Rockville; Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-Op in Takoma Park; Thirsty’s Wine and Spirits in Oxon Hill; Town Center Market in Riverdale Park; the Vine on Main in Sykesville; the Winery in Chester; Yes Organic Market in Hyattsville. Available in Virginia at Wegmans (various locations).

5. Fred Barbera

(Excellent)

Piedmont, Italy, $30 for a 3-liter box

Here’s another terrific-value everyday wine in the box format. This is the equivalent of four bottles at $7.50. The wine is medium-bodied, with tart cherry fruit and an appealing floral aspect we don’t normally expect at this price. It is quite dry and refreshing, characteristic of the food-friendly barbera grape. Bravo! ABV: 13.5 percent.

Imported by USA Wine West, distributed by Bacchus: Available in the District at Calvert Woodley, Chat’s Liquors, Exotic Wine and Liquors, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Pearson’s, Rodman’s, Wagshal’s on New Mexico. Available in Maryland at Bay Wine & Spirits in North Beach; Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits, Eastport Liquors, Giolitti Delicatessen in Annapolis; Bradley’s Wine & Spirits in Phoenix; Canton Crossing Wine + Spirits, Charmed Kitchen, Chuck’s Trading Post, Di Pasquale’s Marketplace, Eddie’s of Roland Park, North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits, Off the Rox, Spirits of Mt. Vernon, Wine Source in Baltimore; Cheers & Spirits in Arnold; College Square Liquors in Westminster; Colonial Liquors in La Plata; District East in Frederick; Hilltop Wine & Spirits in Bowie; Jason’s Wine & Spirits, Olde Tyme Liquors, Wine Bin in Ellicott City; Kent Towne Liquors in Chester; Liquor Pump in Parkville; Mt. Airy Liquors in Mt. Airy; Nick’s of Calvert in Prince Frederick; Patuxent Wine & Spirits in Lusby; the Perfect Pour in Elkridge; Piazza Italian Market in Easton; Red Brick Station in Nottingham; Thompson Creek Liquors in Stevensville; Total Discount Liquors in Eldersburg; Vintage 414 in Cambridge.

4. Zeni FeF Collection, Corvina Veronese 2018/2020

(Extraordinary)

Italy, $14

Lively and bright, with savory flavors of dried fig and wild herbs, this delicious red is a pick-me-up for your palate. Each sip is a refreshing invitation for a mouthful of braised or roasted meats, or hearty pasta. Caution though — if you pour yourself a glass to enjoy while cooking, you may find there’s not enough left for dinner. When I reviewed this wine in February, the distributor was on the 2018 vintage. The 2020 is now on the market. It is also tasty, but if you have patience and some storage space, buy a few bottles and let them age for several months. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Imported and distributed by M. Touton: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, the Bottle Shop, Central Liquors, Grand Cata (Shaw), Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at 424 Wine & Spirits in Crofton; Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer and Finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Eastside Liquors, Old Farm Liquors and Riverside Liquors in Frederick; Franklin Liquors in Ijamsville; Fulton Wine & Spirits in Fulton; Grosvenor Market in Rockville; Hop N Grape in North Bethesda; Petite Cellars in Ellicott City; Rodman’s (White Flint); Town Center Market in Riverdale Park; Trinacria Macaroni Works and Wine Source in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Cheese, the Italian Store (Lyon Village, Westover) in Arlington; Ashburn Wine Shop and Pazzo Pomodoro in Ashburn; Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean; Specials Wine Seller in Kilmarnock.

3. Paul D Rosé 2020

(Excellent)

Wagram, Austria, $12 for 1 liter

When I reviewed this zweigelt rosé in August, I described it as “a great patio pounder rosé for late-summer gatherings.” Its bright and zesty cherry flavors make it ideal for unseasonably warm winter patio gatherings, too, or for casual dinners when a heavier wine just seems too much. The liter bottle is an extra bonus. ABV: 12 percent.

Imported and distributed by Siema, in Northern Virginia by Select Wines: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Wagshals’s Deli, Wagshal’s on New Mexico. Available in Maryland at Downtown Crown Wine and Beer in Gaithersburg; Hair o’ the Dog in Easton; Rodman’s in White Flint; Takoma Beverage in Takoma Park. Available in Virginia at Arrowine & Cheese in Arlington; Balducci’s (Alexandria, McLean); Dominion Wine and Beer in Falls Church; the Swiss Bakery and Pastry Shop in Springfield; Unwined (Belleview, King Street) in Alexandria; Vienna Vintner in Vienna; Vinosity in Culpeper; Wine Attic in Clifton; Wine House in Fairfax; Wine Cabinet in Reston.

2. Independent Tempranillo 2019

(Excellent/Extraordinary)

Bajo Aragon, Spain, $15/$35 for a 3-liter box

Savory, rich and beautifully balanced with flavors of blueberry and tobacco leaf, this juicy tempranillo is a great “house wine.” Buy it in the box format, at the equivalent of $8.75 a bottle, and chuckle at the value. Keep it on the counter for casual weekday meals or that “one last glass of red” when you don’t want to open a bottle. There’s an excellent garnacha also available in box format. ABV: 14.2 percent.

Imported by Artisans & Vines; distributed in the District and Maryland by Artisans & Vines, in Virginia by LK Sales & Tours: Available in the District at Batch 13, Broad Branch Market, Cairo Wine & Liquors, the Gathering Spot, Rodman’s, Sheffield Wine & Liquors, Streets Market (Cleveland Park). Available in Maryland at Absolutely Wine & Spirits in Columbia; Ballenger Beer & Spirits, District East Beer & Wine, Firestone’s Market on Market, Frederick Wine House, Isabella’s Taverna, Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Beer & Wine Co., Bradley Food & Beverage in Bethesda; Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Dawson’s Market, Grosvenor Market in Rockville; Deli Club, Old Town Market in Kensington; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer and finewine.com in Gaithersburg; Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery & General Store in Hyattsville; Fulton Wine & Spirits, Ranazul Tapas Bar in Fulton; Girl and the Vine, Takoma Beverage Co. in Takoma Park; Greenbelt Co-Op in Greenbelt; Montpelier Liquors in Laurel; Nick’s of Calvert in Prince Frederick; Patuxent Wine & Spirits in Lusby; Potomac Grocer in Potomac; Port of Call Liquors in Solomons; Quarry Wine & Spirits in Baltimore; Red: Wine Beer & Spirits in Clarksville; Rodman’s in White Flint; Snider’s Super Foods in Silver Spring; Town Center Market in Riverdale; Village Green Spirit Shop and Wine Bin in Ellicott City. Available in Virginia at Aldie Peddler in Aldie; Murphy Beverage in Winchester; Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria.

1. Pioneiro Vinho Tinto 2018

(Extraordinary)

Setubal Peninsula , Portugal, $12

Portugal should no longer surprise us with its value wines. And yet, this one gobsmacked me with the complexity it offers for this price. Boysenberry, blueberry, tobacco leaf and autumn leaves seemed to swirl in my glass, even on the first night. More impressively, the flavors developed and became increasingly intertwined over the next several days. Setubal is in central Portugal, just south of Lisbon, but this wine made me think of an unfortified port. It’s probably no secret to readers of this column that I love port. This wine would make a great case purchase to be your house red for the first months of 2022. ABV: 13.5 percent.

Imported and distributed by Kysela: Available in the District at Capital Supermarket, Magruder’s, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at 5 O’Clock Wine and Spirits, Foundry Row Wine & Spirits in Owings Mills; Bay Ridge Wine & Spirits in Annapolis; Beer Wine & Co., Georgetown Square Wine and Beer in Bethesda; Bethesda Co-Op in Cabin John; Delaney Valley Liquors in Towson; Downtown Crown Wine and Beer, FineWine.com in Gaithersburg; Eddie’s Liquors, Old Vines in Baltimore; Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold; Gilly’s Craft Beer & Fine Wine, Grosvenor Market in Rockville; Liberty Wine & Liquors in Lavale; Maple Lawn Wine & Spirits in Fulton; Mt. Airy Liquors in Mt. Airy; Old Town Market in Kensington; Olney Beer and Wine in Olney; Riverhill Wine & Cellars in Clarksville; Snider’s Super Foods, Woodmoor Market in Silver Spring; Spin the Bottle in Frederick; Takoma Park-Silver Spring Co-Op in Takoma Park. Available in Virginia at Arrowine & Cheese, Verre in Arlington; City Vino in Fredericksburg; Crossroads Grocery in Winchester; Kroger in Chester; Swirl & Sip in Fairfax; the Vine & Leaf in Front Royal; Wine Warehouse in Charlottesville; Woodstock Cafe in Woodstock.