Repost from the old site:
In this post, I will review some great cheap wines. Since I live on $14,000/yr, it’s essential that the wines I buy be inexpensive. The general dividing line here is $5 and under for 750 ml and $10 and under for 1.5 liters. I am not a wine connoisseur, but I do drink a couple of glasses of red wine every night.
After a while, if you have any refined palate at all, you develop a taste for what tastes good and what does not. This post is intended for the unsophisticated wine drinker, not the connoisseur. The person that is simply looking for good cheap red wines that taste good and don’t bite back at you when you drink them.
Please note that in addition to the wines below, I also tried many wines that simply did not make the cut. Most of them, but not all, were cheaper. For a long time I drank these wines. They are quite cheap – you can often get a 1.5 ml bottle for $6 or $7. I include Gallo, Forestville and Inglenook, amongst others, in this category.
If this is all you drink, these wines seem fine, especially compared to bottom of the barrel jug. But once you start moving a few grades above these, you quickly lose a taste for those wines, and at the moment, I have moved on.
I drink 2 glasses of wine a night. If you do the same, the wines below will cost you about $2.50 a day, a reasonable expense in the US for one of life’s grandest pleasures, even for those barely above the poverty line.
Fetzer Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Fetzer Vineyards, Hopland, Mendocino County, CA: The flavor is black cherry, a bit of vanilla, chocolate and spice. Not bad. A northern California wine from an area along the Russian River where a lot of wines are being grown lately.
Concha y Toro Frontera Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot 2004: An excellent wine from Chile’s Central Valley. Those who have tried a Cabernet-Merlot combination may wish to try this one out. Combinations of these two wines is particularly common in Chile.
Casarsa Merlot Delle Venezie (Venetian Merlot) 2003: A great Italian wine grown just outside Venice, in a major wine-growing region of Italy. The Italians and French make some superb cheap wines.
Purple Moon Shiraz 2004, Purple Moon Winery, Manteca, CA: A great, very fruity wine. It got a good review here. Three more reviews are here, two positive and one negative. A wine from the Central Valley of California.
Estrella Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Estrella River Winery, Napa, CA: A very good wine. Napa Valley is of course the very famous wine-growing region in California.
Milla Vineyards Sunset Red Table Wine 2005, Milla Vineyards, Fresno, CA: A nice wine but it is quite sweet. It’s not Port or Sherry, but it’s not totally dissimilar to Kosher Grape Wine. I like dry wines myself, but this wine was quite good. If you like a sweet table wine, you will enjoy this. This wine normally sold for around $7 a bottle but I got it on sale for under $5. Another wine from California’s Central Valley.
Chateau Lasgoity White Zinfandel 2005, Chateau Lasgoity Vineyards, Madera, CA: Noticing that it was bottled in a very nondescript (one might even say, cheap-appearing) label, I was not optimistic about this wine. I was delightfully surprised. This is one of the best White Zins I have ever had. No bite, bitterness or aftertaste at all. Yet another California Central Valley wine.
Milla Vineyards Ruby Cabernet 2004, Milla Vineyards, Fresno, CA: A really, really great wine! Ruby is a new wine variety, with a very heavy taste of cherry. According to Wikipedia, Ruby Cabernets are not well regarded, since they supposedly “have not yet been able to produce quality wines”. Once again, this wine normally sells for around $7 a bottle or so but I was very fortunate to be able to pick it up for under $5.
Perhaps I am not a connoisseur, but I loved this wine! I went back to the store and bought about 1/2 the bottles in stock and recommended it to the checkers at the counter, something I usually don’t do. A great wine for people who are not big wine fans. I can’t recommend this wine highly enough. I wish I had a case!
PKNT Merlot 2003: Another superb wine from Chile’s Central Valley. Plum and berry flavors predominate here. PKNT stands for “picante” or spicy. It means to spice up your life. These wines are being aggressively marketed with an expensive advertising campaign. Check the website for more.
Echo Falls Merlot, grown at Mission Bell Winery, Madera, CA; bottled at Echo Falls Winery, Woodbridge, CA: An excellent wine. The flavors are currant and raspberry, with hints of oak, spice and herbs. Mission Bell Winery is part of Canandaigua Wine Company in Madera, CA. This is yet another Central Valley wine. The Central Valley is an up and coming wine-growing region in California.
French Market Merlot Vin De Pays D’Oc 2003 Red Table Wine: An absolutely delicious smooth, fruity French wine. The French make some of the best wines around, and this is another example. Cherry, strawberry and plum flavors predominate here. However, to be honest, this wine has garnered at least one terrible review on the Internet.
Kedem Cream Red Concord, Royal Wine Corp, Bayonne, NJ: A creamy, smooth red grape wine. Another Kosher Jewish grape wine but this one is particularly good. Great if you like sweet wines. This wine is grown in upstate New York.
L’Authentique Red Table Wine , La Caumette, France: Another great, fruity, cheap French table wine. When it comes to low-end wines, the French seem to make some of the best. Review here. This wine is a Bordeaux, though you it won’t tell you on the label.
Delicato Shiraz 2003, Delicato Family Vineyards, Manteca, CA: A great wine from another California Central Valley winemaker. This wine has a strong blackberry flavor. It won Best Shiraz in California for three years at the California State Fair. That’s an amazing feat for such an affordable wine. Review here. Yet another California Central Valley wine.
Woodbridge Robert Mondavi Merlot 2003, Woodbridge Winery, Woodbridge, CA: I swear, this is the smoothest Merlot I have ever had. Every Robert Mondavi wine I have ever drunk was just great, and smooth is the word, including his great White Zinfandel. No bite, no aftertaste, no bitterness.
A wine for people who non-wine drinkers. I usually can’t afford his wines but lately some of them have been down to $5 for 750 ml and $10 for 1.5 liter. Yet another California Central Valley wine, this time from around the Lodi region.
Archeo Sicilia Nero d’Avola 2003, Ruggero di Tasso: A berry flavor with meshed with the soft tannins of the oak barrels it was stored in. This is a superb Italian wine. The Italians, like the French, make some of the best cheap wines around. This wine is from southwestern Sicily. Review here.