Red wine, that rich, wonderful complement to so many meals and nightcap to so many evenings. It tastes even better when you can score a bottle for $20 or less. From Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best cheap red wines to help you entertain or give you something to bring to a party. Even better, you can buy these online right now and skip the trip to the store. For any of the wines on this list, be sure to use a red wine glass, which feature a wider opening and a deeper bowl than white wine glasses to highlight the more developed notes.
While you’re thinking about opening a few bottles, we’ve rounded up five of the best wine bottle openers to get you sipping. Even if you don’t see one you like, a few of these inexpensive reds won’t require you to have a corkscrew at all.
1. Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Red Cat
Recommended for those who enjoy sweet red wines, this is a great light option. A fruity, easy-drinking wine is perfect for late summer evenings when the heat lingers even as the days get shorter. This New York wine has notes of cherries and can be enjoyed chilled. Despite lacking any dryness, it also isn’t too sweet. A solid general purpose bottle to have on hand.
2. 2014 Stonecap Columbia Valley Estate Grown Merlot
The ten-dollar price point brings us a trio of Washington state reds — 2014 Stonecap Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 Merlot, and 2013 Syrah. Of these, the Merlot received the highest rating from Wine Enthusiast of 90 points, delivering berry and cherry notes with a complexity beyond its price point.
3. 2014 Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon
A perennial inexpensive favorite, Smoking Loon’s 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon features fresh acidity and light tannins. The brand’s popularity comes from consistently blending smooth, drinkable wines at a good price point. Amazon reviewers report buying one on a whim and later coming back for a full case. Another wine to have on hand for when the good bottle is empty.
4. 2013 Wild Meadows Cabernet Sauvignon
A dry selection with stronger tannins, this Cabernet also hails from Washington. The provided tasting notes include plum with a cocoa finish, while other comments suggest cookie and spices. The aroma of saddle leather was noted when swirling in the glass.
5. 2012 Kiona Vineyards and Winery Red Mountain Estate Lemberger
Continuing with the Washington theme — the region clearly has something working for it — this was the first of the U.S.-produced Lembergers. Especially stateside, this is a style that began to fade a bit right around the time this particular vintage was bottled, which means you should grab it now before you miss out on an excellent smooth, fruity wine. With a score of 90 from Wine Enthusiast, this will approximate the European form nicely.
6. ONEHOPE California Sweet Red
Want to drink a tasty red while supporting a good cause? Half the proceeds from this particular wine go to Team Rubicon, which “unites the and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.” ONEHOPE creates its wines with the help of Rob Mondavi Jr., so if you require more from your wine than just support of a good cause, this California-sourced blend certainly has credentials.
7. 2009 Bodegas Briego Crianza
Wine Advocate awarded this wine 91 points, but that hasn’t changed the profile of this obscure but elegant red. This wine spent 14 months in French and American oak barrels and has had plenty of time to integrate its flavors since. You may still get a somewhat woody, oak-forward wine, but currant and other red fruits should be more than a little present by this point. The label adds a nice note of sophistication at the price point, too.
8. 2012 Sawtooth Syrah
This Syrah from Idaho of all places incorporates impressions of both Chilean and Californian wine. Awarded a 91 from Wine & Spirits, it features a wonderful, earthy flavor that speaks more to a mid-90s rating. While not overly complex, you’ll still get a well-rounded finish and quality winemaking.
9. 2010 Kingston Family Vineyards Lucero Syrah
This is a cool-climate Syrah from my second-favorite growing region of Chile. Awarded no fewer than 90 points from James Suckling, Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, and Stephen Tanzer (with an 89 from Wine Advocate), this is a fine bet at this price point. Dark berries, smoke, and black pepper are all present, but you should give it a bit of air with an aerator per the winemaker’s suggestion.
10. 2013 Dry Creek Vineyard Heritage Vines Zinfandel
In addition to a refined label, this wine features start-to-finish berries and sweet tannins. Of course, we expect nothing less of Sonoma County, but this kind of balance at this price point is always a nice find. Drink it on your back patio while you eat dinner in the open air.
11. Chocolate Shop Red
Okay, you caught me. This is a fun pick. Dessert wine in the truest sense. It’s red wine with chocolate in it. If that’s to your liking, how can you go wrong?
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