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The benefits of drinking red wine in moderation have been well documented and continue to be researched. Improvements in memory, muscle strength, and the cardiovascular system are just a few of the perks that come with enjoying the occasional glass of Merlot or Cabernet.
But for those on a limited budget, red wine can be a luxury item. Here is our list of the best cheap red wines whose quality outweighs their price tags.
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Our Top Picks
Best Red Wine Under $10 - Bodegas Nekeas Sindoa Tempranillo
Best Red Wine Under $15 - The Pinot Project California Pinot Noir
Best Red Wine Under $20 - 1000 Stories Bourbon-Barrel Aged Zinfandel
Best Red Wines Under $10
The Tempranillo grape is lauded as the basis of some of the best tasting wines of Spain and Portugal. Originating in the Navarra region of northern Spain, the grape has now been thoroughly adopted by Californian, Argentinian, and Australian growers.
Thankfully, this has resulted in an abundance of affordable reds derived from the Tempranillo grape at local wine stores. This particular brand has a good reputation among wine critics, and at only $8 per bottle, it is a certified bargain.
What sets this wine apart is the hint of spiciness, which gives it a certain lightness of flavor that suits a barbecue or summer picnic perfectly.
2. Esser Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
This is another wine with a unique taste that sets it apart from its peers at similar price points. The berry-driven Cabernet is known for a slight peppery taste which is attributed to the Petite Sirah grape that is used in the production of this red.
Priced at approximately $10, depending on your city and state, it is another wine that delivers more bang for your buck.
You may notice a trend among these more affordable wines — unique flavors and ingredients that create a sensory experience that defies conceptions of what cheaper wines can offer the palate.
The 2018 Wolftrap follows this pattern, as it has a pronounced blackberry flavor that mixes well with its more-subtle dark plum and spicy undertones. This Syrah-Mourvedre red will ensure you don’t break the bank while giving a dinner gift or enjoying it for yourself.
Why settle for one when you can enjoy a blend of your favorite wines in one insanely cheap but delicious red wine? Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon come together to give you a dark red wine with hints of vanilla and mocha.
This rare blend of red wine comes from the best vineyards of California, USA. It has an ABV of 13-14% and is best paired with lamb dishes.
5. Jaboulet Parallele 45 Rouge
When shopping for a bottle of affordable red wine, you won’t find many quality options until now. The Jaboulet Parallele 45 is a wine based on the Grenache-Syrah blend that is made all year round.
The major dominant flavors that go inside are cherry and blackberry. The wine has got a great balance of certain elements like citrusy, silky, and somewhat cherry-like.
Best Red Wines Under $15
Coming from Spain, the Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo has soft, supple, clean lines similar to Pinot Noir but with a spicy punch. It has a very intense rich flavor of ripe cherries, strawberries, vanilla, and spice.
If you are in Spain or want to enjoy this red wine to the fullest, we recommend pairing it with grilled veggies, meat, pasta, or tapas. This wine has 13.5% alcohol by volume and a rating of 88/100 points.
This rare blend of red wine was produced in Lombardy, Italy. The IGT label denotes wines that were made with more freedom, introduced in 1992.
This lush and balanced dessert wine has intense aromas of blackberries and wild berries and pairs well with chocolate and caramel. It also has a low ABV of 5%.
8. M. Chapoutier Les Vignes De Bila-Haut Rouge
In our list of the best red wine under $15, we start with the M.Chapoutier which comes from a village called Cotes Du Roussillon in France. With an ABV between 12-14%, this wine goes well with any lamb dish and has a red and intense texture.
If you have a good nose, you will be able to smell the smooth, leather-like chocolate-flavored cherries from your glass. Berries dominate the aroma and taste of this wine.
Just a small pint and you will smell notes of tea leaf, cherry cola, and earthy tones that add to the richness and depth of the grapes. When you take the first few sips, you will be greeted with cherry-like toasty herbal flavors that give a silky and smooth mouthfeel.
Bogle Petite Syrah is usually aged in American oak for 12 months. This makes for a great cheap sweet red wine. The Sirah red wine goes well with lamb and has around 13-14% alcohol content.
Considered among the top 10% of all wines in the world, the Cline Lodi Zinfandel is made from the grapes of the Lodi region in the USA. You can pair this wine with beef, lamb, or poultry.
You can smell the fresh and deep aromas of leather and berries in this red wine. The Cline Lodi Zinfandel also has a very concentrated essence of vanilla and red fruits. It has an alcohol content of 14%.
When it comes to $10 to $15 wines, the Pinot Project California Pinots are a great option. They have a cherry cola spice character that was inspired by the classic Russian River wines. However, cheap pinots like this one resemble a mythical creature that's super rare---you can hardly find them anywhere!
In the first glimpse, the color of this wine is very red. The Pinot Project goes well with chicken and turkey, and it has a critic score of 88/100 on major wine sites.
The Bibi Graetz is made from Sangiovese which is Graetz’s entry-level red wine. Because of its price, this is a super value red wine that has plums and flavors of cherry.
With around 12% alcohol content, the Bibi Graetz comes from Tuscany, Italy. The wine is best consumed alongside beef and venison.
Di Majo Norante Sangiovese is a 100% Sangiovese grown in the Ramitello and Martarosa vineyards in Italy. Hand-harvested in October, it is aged in stainless steel and in large oak barrels for six months to get a greater taste, smoothness, and softness.
This is a wine that preserves the natural savory and tangy taste of the fruit, Sangiovese, so drinking it is like consuming the fruit on its own. Also, the color looks very red, with aromas of violets and red berries.
14. Mas Amiel Notre Terre Côtes Du Roussillon Villages
We are willing to admit that the high-brow sounding name of this wine first caught our attention. But after reviewing critic evaluations and sampling it ourselves, this $12 red wine has much to offer in the taste department.
The combination of Grenache, Carignane, Syrah, and a bit of Mourvèdre blend seamlessly to give off a taste that hints of cherry and raisins.
15. Don Sebastiani & Sons Screw Kappa Napa Merlot
We couldn’t create a list of affordable red wines without including one of our favorites: merlot. Priced at $13, this particular brand has a supple flavor that emanates its plum-rich base and leaves one with the impression that they are drinking a much more expensive bottle of wine.
Although it is not as pricey compared to its relatives, a bottle of merlot still exudes the fresh and sweet taste of the grapes in each sip. The secret to this expensive taste? They choose only the freshest and ripest grapes in the vineyard.
16. Finca Sophenia Altosur Malbec
Formerly labeled as Tupungato, the Finca Sophenia Altosur Malbec is a bottle of wine made in Gualtallary, Argentina. This red wine with violet hues has intense cherries, berries, and plum aroma with spicy and floral hints.
The wine is very graceful and pure with sweet and round tannins. All of these make the Finca Sophenia Altosur Malbec very bold and structured. Best when paired with beef and venison, it has 14% alcohol content and a critic score of 93/100.
Best Red Wines Under $20
The Skouras red wine is one of the best recommendations in the $20 range. Not only is this a cheap yet high-quality red wine but it also has Beaujolais-like fresh cherry flavors.
This red wine is produced by Domaine Skouras and goes well with duck, goose, and game. In terms of notes, you will have a 90% indicative blend and 10% Aghiorghitiko.
The Moss Roxx Reserve Zinfandel comes from the grapes grown in Lodi, California. This region is especially known for its great wines due to the quality of grapes.
Goes well with portions of lamb, you can sense the notes of blackberry, pepper, and tobacco in the Moss Roxx red wine. Produced by Oak Ridge Winery, it contains around 14% alcohol and is well-rated at 4 out of 5 on major wine review sites.
As it's famously said, “wine and cheese age beautifully with time”. Produced by Oak ridge winery, the Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon is an aging red wine that is both rich and intense.
Also comes from the Lodi region in California, you can pair this red wine with lamb. This is one of the best cheap red wines on the list and has around 14% alcoholic content.
The 1000 stories Zinfandel comes from Mendocino County in the USA. It is made from zinfandel grapes and tastes great with lamb.
When it comes to alcohol, this red wine has 15% ABV. In the first sip, you will be greeted with the dominant taste of bourbon. A few more sips and the toasted barrel, black pepper, and blackberry jam can be sensed.
The Meiomi Pinot Noir is one of the finest selections in the list of best red wine under $20. With every passing year, they have been consistent with the way their wine tastes. It's admired everywhere across the globe.
Pinot Noir is famous for its taste and smell, the Meiomi is no exception. You can smell the cherry-like aroma and a fruitful floral hint on your palate. This red wine goes well with chicken and turkey and has around 13-14% alcohol content.
How to Add Value to Your Wine
One way to enhance your wine drinking experience is to serve them in quality glasses. Here are some of our recommended red wine glasses that won’t break your bank and your back since they are dishwasher-safe.
Another way to increase the value of cheap wine is to decant or aerate it. Decanting helps wine unleash its ultimate flavors and aromas. If you don’t have the patience to decant, it would do well to use some of the best wine aerators on the market.
So, what’s your favorite cheap red wine? Let us know in the comments.