Picking a good wine can be a chore on its own. But picking a good wine that’s also cheap is definitely hit and miss. There are just so, so many options on the grocery store shelf. It’s overwhelming. Add in the snobbish funk that still lingers around tasting rooms and vineyard events (even though both are increasingly less snobbish these days) and you have a very hard-to-get-into alcohol.
The truth is, wine, like beer, is for everyone. It’s a simple fermentation of grape juice that’s been aged in order to mellow the flavor. That’s all. Some grapes and aging processes bring out certain flavors due to locality and terrior, but, really, there’s not any more to wine than that. And though taste is fun to cultivate, all that really matters is, “Do you dig it?” As with all things in alcohol and food, don’t let anyone tell you what to like. A true expert will help you grow your palate, not insist upon what’s good and what isn’t.
With all this in mind, we thought we’d cobble together a list of some of the best cheap wine on the market. We’re talking under ten dollars — red, white, and rose. It goes without saying that this list is not comprehensive. There are literally hundreds of American wines that cost less than a sawbuck. Add in European wines, Chile, Australia, South Africa, Canada, and so on and that number skyrockets into the thousands. But we’ll say this much: This list is 20 bottles of wine that will not disappoint, from a Netflix and chill night to a day dressed to the nines for the Catalina Wine Mixer. Let’s roll!
Gnarly Head Merlot
Gnarly Head wines are a good place to start any wine journey. Their Merlot is a straightforward, red fruit structured wine that gets the job done (it’ll get you drunk). Overall, this wine is perfect for those lazy Sundays when all the chores are done and you’re chilling in the backyard watching a few hot dogs plump up on the barbecue.
Challis Lane Old Vine Zinfandel
Sticking with good ol’ California wines, Challis Lane rarely disappoints. Their Old Vine Zin is a big, hefty red that’ll do wonders with a venison rack or bison ribeye. The wine is very jammy, as they say, with heavy fruit, chewy oak, and a slight pepper bite.
Menage a Trois Red
Where that Old Zin above was big and bold, Menage a Trois Red is subtle and small. The blend of California reds is a very easy drinking wine that has soft tart fruits driving the flavor with a crisp edge that goes down easily.
14 Hands Hot To Trot Red
Up Washington way, 14 Hands puts together great red blends. Hot To Trot is a very berry forward red with good hits of stone fruit and oakiness. Translation: it tastes good and the price is right!
Porta 6 Red
Picking one wine from Trader Joe’s is a fool’s errand. But, as always, we’re your fool when it comes to picking alcohol for you to love. Hailing from Portugal, Trader Joe’s Porta 6 Red is a fantastic wine for the price. It’s earthy, full of tart berry smoothness, and has a cinnamon spiciness under the oak. And, it’s only six bucks. You can’t beat that.
Callaway Coastal Cabernet
Back in California, this Cab is an easy drinking wine that goes with pretty much any occasion. There’s a definite fruitiness and you’ll be able to tell it was aged in oak barrels. Besides the oakiness, the other flavor notes play in minor keys. It’s all about easy drinkability here.
Yellow Tail Shiraz
What can we say about Yellow Tail that you don’t already know? The Australian standard is a great wine at a great price. Throw some protein on a barbecue in the backyard and twist that lid off and enjoy. It’s a good wine that works with pretty much any time of day and reason to drink — from day drinking the weekend away in the sun to a winter’s eve by the fire.
Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley Merlot 2013
Costco has a crazy amount of great wine for under ten bucks. Generally speaking, we’d endorse the majority of their Kirkland Signature labels as perfectly suitable wines for day-to-day pairings. Overall, our love of Washington wines makes their Columbia Valley Merlot a great place to start your Costco wine journey.
House Wine Red Blend Can
Cans of wine are set to take over your summer good times. House Wine Red is a crowd pleaser. The wine is spot on and easy to drink and it comes in a can. The only thing you really need to know about this wine is that each can is a half a bottle of wine. So… consider yourself warned.
La Vieille Ferme Rose
The sun’s out, that means it’s time for a little al fresco dining and copious bottles of rose. France’s La Vielle Freme is the perfect wine for just that. It’s bright, full of fruity goodness, and very crisp without getting too sweet. It’ll be hard not to drink a whole bottle of this and not want to dive into a second bottle immediately.
Waterbrook Rose Sangiovese
This Washington wine made with classic Italian grapes is a hefty rose that leans more towards strawberry and melon than grape. It’s a very crisp and full flavored wine that pairs wonderfully with big flavors — think brisket and Kansas City ribs.
Mateus is a bit of an outlier. It has a very slight natural fizz to it. It’s not as bubbly as a full-on sparkling wine, but it’s just bubbly enough to give it an edge. Also, the bottle is kinda cool. You feel like you should be wandering the docks of some far-flung port after a long sea journey. The taste leans a little sweet and lot crisp with a nice berry finish.
Underwood Rose Can
This rose can wine should be your new summer obsession. The wine is very crisp with a nice berry sweetness lurking on the backend. It’s very easy to drink, almost too easy. So be careful with volume here as just two cans is an entire bottle of wine.
A good chardonnay should be one everyone’s shelf. Snoqualmie’s riff, from up Washington way, is a great bottle to have at the ready. It’s got a subtle dryness that’s underpinned by a hint of creaminess. It’s shockingly fresh and very satisfying.
Chateau Ste Michelle Dry Riesling
Sticking with the cooler temps of the Pacific Northwest, Chateau Ste Michelle’s Riesling is a winner. The wine is wonderfully crisp and full of apple orchard fruitiness. Overall, this a great entry point into all white wines and goes with damn near everything.
Bogle Sauvignon Blanc
Bogle’s Sauv Blanc is another great wine that’s just easy to drink. You can feel the bright California sun in this crisp white that brings on the melon and citrus notes. Pop it open at in the backyard or after a hard day at work, it won’t disappoint.
Fetzer Valley Oaks Riesling
Fetzer’s Riesling is a floral forward wine with a nice dryness and citrus essence. It’s a wine that’ll put a smile on your face no matter what mood you’re in.
Kirkland Signature California Pinot Grigio
Back at Costco, we gotta give a shout out to their Kirkland Signature California Pinot Grigio. The wine is a very light and crisp bottle with a burst of sunshine. There’s a slight fruitiness here, but the overall feel of this one is easy drinking summer white wine. It’s an easy and affordable win.
Underwood Pinot Gris Can
Let’s wrap things with a nice white wine. Underwood’s Pinto Gris is crisp, bright, floral, a little oaky, and nice and fruit forward with a hint of the tropics. Crack open a can and let the day turn into night. Maybe build a backyard fire, roast some marshmallows, and drink some good wine straight from the can.