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Cheap Red Wines, Red Wine Reviews
Cheap Red Wines Buying Guide
Who needs a bottle of premium red wine when you can enjoy a thoroughly respectable bottle of cheap red wine without spending more than $10? A wine snob, perhaps, but not frugal quaffers who know even a little bit about wine and aren't afraid to go with what they like. But with so many styles, grapes, producers, and labels to choose from, you need to know where to start.
There are hundreds of cheap red wines out there, many worth drinking and many others that are barely worth the few dollars you lay out for them.
Our wine expert compiled a long list of very good cheap red wines, all of which are mentioned on the following pages. From among this group we then chose a select few as our top picks. Our first choices are Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon (starting at $8.99, Amazon) a well-reviewed and rated wine given its low price tage, and Melini Chianti Borghi d'Elsa 2010 (starting at $8.99, Amazon), which is dry and full with intense fruit aromas. Falling in right behind are Dancing Bull Zinfandel (starting at $7.99, Amazon) and Mirassou Pinot Noir 2010 (starting at $7.95, Amazon), both of which boast good body for this price range. We also identified two cheap red wines that may not be value buys despite their incredibly attractive pricing: Franzia Merlot (5-liter box starting at $15.99; equivalent of $2.40/750 ml bottle, Amazon) and Charles Shaw Cabernet (starting at $2).
So what do you get for $10 or less? In a blind tasting, many wine drinkers would be able identify the difference between a cheap red wine and an ultra-premium bottle costing $25-plus. But it's often more difficult to tell the difference between a really good cheap red wine and a mid-level wine that sells for $10 to $20 or so. Indeed, experiments have shown that people's perceptions of a wine are influenced by the price; the higher the price, the more enjoyable they report the wine to be.
That said, we'd be remiss if we didn't note differences in taste between cheap and upmarket red wines. Expensive wines are usually made with meticulously selected grapes from carefully tended vines grown on high quality land. These grapes are often hand-picked, processed in small batches, and aged slowly -- often in expensive oak casks. High-end red wine demands 24/7 attention at critical times of the year, and the finished product is often more balanced and smoother tasting than cheaper wines, layered with flavors, and imbued with a pleasant, lingering "finish." Wines produced under these conditions are usually available in relatively small quantities; you won't find them at big-box outlets.
By contrast, mass-market producers typically buy surplus grapes, use centrifuges to skin them (a process that removes tannins and eliminates the need to age the wine naturally), sometimes use oak chips (or liquid smoke) to impart a hint of oak flavor. The resulting wines are usually released just days after bottling. Cheap red wines are produced all over the world, mostly with a blend of grape varieties, or rarely, one grape varietal. Cheap red wines range in color from deep purplish red to bright ruby red; in style from full-bodied to light, rustic to elegant; and in taste from fruity to spicy, earthy to tart, dry to sweet.
Red Wine Reviews.For this product category we've taken an unusual approach and selected many best cheap red wines. We had little choice because this segment of the red wine market is awash with product that is seller-specific.
In other words, all of our picks are not sold everywhere and we wanted to give you a range of options to increase the likelihood that you'll find at least one of the best cheap red wines on our list at a local wine shop or through your preferred wine vendor's website. Wine prices are not consistent from seller to seller, either, so the starting prices that we specify are approximations.
While you can order wine online from places like Wine.com or WineAccess.com, this is not a recommended strategy for frugal consumers -- shipping charges can double the price of your order. Alternatively, go to wine-searcher.com to find the nearest source offering the best price on the wine you're seeking. If your preference is for kosher wines, try kosherwinerack.com; if it's organic wines, try organicwinefind.com.
Bear in mind that wine drinking is a very subjective experience. We're offering suggestions for the most popular wine varieties and recommend that you use the list as a jumping-off point, tasting and deciding which ones appeal to you, noting the qualities that add to that appeal, and making future selections accordingly.
Wines are discussed by type and presented in alphabetical order.
Best Cheap Red Wines
Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon
A Washington State wine from an "American Winery of the Year" award winner, this Cab is ripe with aromas of berries and a flavor to match. A hit of tannins can be noticed along with a bit of cola in this reasonably priced wine.
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Good Cheap Red Wines
Dancing Bull Zinfandel
Full flavor, deep purple color, and a touch on the berry side make this wine a solid choice, even as a mate for red meat.
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Don't Bother Cheap Dry Red Wines
With a starting price that's the equivalent of $2 for a 750 ml bottle, this wine is a popular choice for parties. Be prepared for a taste that's sweet and one-dimensional, and, say some consumers, thin and artificial.
Charles Shaw Cabernet Review
Dancing Bull Zinfandel Review
Mirassou Pinot Noir Review
Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon Review
Melini Chianti Borghi d'Elsa Review
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