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Cheap Zinfandel, Rioja Wines, Syrah Wines
Rioja Wines, Syrah Wines, Zinfandel Wines
Rioja Wines.The tempranillo grape is the core of Rioja wines. Having made its mark in Spain, it now also grows in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and the U.S.
The best cheap Rioja wines we found are all from Spain: Monticello Crianza (starting at $10) is earthy and dry and tastes as though it's been aged in oak (it has); El Coto Rioja Crianza (starting at $7, Amazon) is best after decanting, when it turns earthy and smooth with a deep, full-bodied and concentrated flavor; Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2009 (starting at $9.09) is dark in color with a medium-full body, a bit of spice, and a smooth and pleasant taste.
Syrah Red Wines.The syrah grape comes from the Rhone valley in France but is now the most widely planted wine grape in Australia, where it's known as shiraz. Syrah grapes yield wines that range from dense, elegant, and spicy to smooth and silky, to sweet and plush. Syrah wine typically yields flavors of licorice and mocha, and it can be fruity or dry. Cheap syrah wine is popular in the U.S. and provides excellent value; bloggers say it lends itself to mass production.
Our picks for best cheap syrah wines include the South African 2011 Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz (starting at $8.99, Amazon) with a sweet, but not too sweet, taste; and the Australian Yellowtail Shiraz Reserve Casella Wines 2008 (starting at $7.99, Amazon) which is intense and slightly sweet with an earthy, mineral taste. The Concannon Conservancy claims to have introduced the first American petite sirah, and bloggers at Why Wine Blog and The Good Wine Guru say the 2008 vintage stands up to roasted meats.
Zinfandel Wines.There's a lot of sugar in the zinfandel grape, which means a wine that's relatively high in alcohol. Zinfandel is currently a hot red wine in the U.S., where its intense fruit/berry flavor with a peppery bite and earthy aromas has wide appeal. The style of a good cheap zinfandel can range from simple and light to dense, complex, and smooth.
Dancing Bull Zinfandel (starting at $7.99, Amazon) stands near the very top of our best cheap red wine picks. It's rich and full enough to eat with red meat and is the progeny of a California producer that specializes in zinfandel, although the Dancing Bull label also includes other wine types. The results here are top-notch, according to The Wine Curmudgeon, tasting full of berry with mild tannins. Ravenswood Vinters Blend Zinfandel (starting at $7.99, Amazon) is a medium-bodied wine with a bit of oak that lends it some structure and makes it eminently drinkable, according to reviews posted on Chowhound. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Private Selection Zinfandel 2010 (starting at $7.99, Amazon) is another easy-drinking, medium-bodied wine but contains a slightly sweet note and not a lot of depth.
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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