August 28 is "red wine day." Who knew?!
To help you celebrate, Eye Opener asked wine experts all across the country to give us their top picks for cheap red wines. Because, let's face it, we're not all about spending $200 for a bottle of vino. We got bills to pay.
Here's the list from nine of nation's top wine experts, complete with all their fancy descriptors.
Director of wine education, Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group
LINI “910” ($15)
My ultimate go-to red wine is Lambrusco. Dry, fizzy, and served slightly chilled, it is a great accompaniment to just about everything from pizza to short rib hash. LINI “910” is a great bottle and I enjoy it most often with cured meats & hard cheeses, but most any brand will do as long as it boasts 11.5% abv or higher on the label.
Mouton Noir’s “Horseshoes & Handgrenades” ($17)
When I am not enjoying Lambrusco I usually reach for a blend of some sort. Not too complicated and super easy to enjoy, I have recently discovered Mouton Noir’s “Horseshoes & Handgrenades” a Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Washington State. It lives up to its “I’m-not-a-stuffy-wine” reputation and is a hoot to drink with friends. It’s absolutely killer with a burger.
Juan Gil “18” ($18)
Last but not least, one always needs an evening-patio-chill / sit-by-the-pool-and-chill wine. Juan Gil “18” from the South of Spain is the answer. Dominated by Monastrell, it is soft, yummy and completely patio worthy. Goes great with ribs, bean dip, or whatever else you like to eat while hanging out outdoors.
Wine Director for VINEBOX
Cline 'Cashmere' - Sonoma, CA 2013 ($15.99)
A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, a common blend of grapes in France's Rhone Valley, Cashmere invokes it's namesake with smooth berry flavors, chocolate notes and hints of cracked black pepper and deep plum. Affordable enough for weekday dinners and easy to drink with almost anything, particularly grilled salmon or pork.
Poggio Anima 'Samael' Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy 2013 ($19.99)
This 100% Montepulciano boxes way above it's weight class, offering much more complex flavors than you would expect at this price point. Black cherry, plum jam and a licorice note that starts faint but builds overtime and with aeration into warming sensation of different berry liqueurs.
Chateau Soucherie 2014 Anjou, France ($17.99)
A blend of 90% Cabernet Franc (Cab Sav's father grape) with 10% Grolleau (an indigenous grape to the Loire Valley) Soucherie produces a lively, fruity red with plenty of raspberry aroma and flavors and enough minerality to carry an otherwise simple and enjoyable wine perfect for pizza night.
Don David Malbec ($15)
It showcases the grape (Malbec) and the region well, and it's one of my favorites because there are a lot of subtle notes of berries, spice, oak, tobacco and mint.
Vivanco Crianza ($15)
You can get the Crianza (which is a designation for how long it's been aged in the barrel) for about $15, and I feel like it's a good representation of the grape varietal and the terroir (region, soil, climate). The varietal is Tempranillo which is a grape known for bold fruit and spice.
Cotes du Rhone table wines ($17)
These generally use a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre grapes. I love this blend, because it's always well-structured and smooth, often showing characteristics of licorice and oak. One of my favorite inexpensive wines from this appellation is the Guigal, which you can get for about $17.
Sommelier, Piora Restaurant in NYC
2012 Meyer-Fonné, Riesling, Alsace, France ($14.99)
This bone-dry Riesling has explosive aromatics of stone-fruit and a slatey-minerality. One sip will leave you immediately refreshed. The bright and bracing acidity wakes up your palate and perfectly pairs with a wide range of foods.
Jacob’s Creek Two Lands Shiraz ($13.99)
For those of you that like rich and full-bodied reds, this will be your best kept secret. With layers of chocolate, baked black fruit and vanilla, you can cozy up with this after a long day. This is also the perfect match for grilled meats and stews.
Campo Viejo Reserva Rioja ($13)
Rioja has recently found its way in the spotlight and this is an excellent example of why. Savory elements of tomato, dill and fennel mash up with a warm and full texture. Softer on the palate, this is for those who like 'smooth' wines with a good bit of personality.
Cotes du Rhone Reserve Rouge from Les Dauphins ($12.99)
This is my #1 go-to red under $20. These wines are earthy and robust, with lots of rich fruit flavors- in other words, a serious bang for your buck! I love The Cotes du Rhone Reserve Rouge from Les Dauphins, which is based on the voluptuous Grenache grape with a dash of Syrah and Mourvedre for savory intrigue. At only $12.99, it over-delivers on quality--- and the vintage design of the label is absolutely adorable: a bright, fabulous evocation of 1920s Francophile style (aka, something you can proudly bring to your next dinner party). Especially at this time of year, Cotes du Rhone wines are the perfect transitional wine- their red fruits and peppery spice are right at home at a backyard BBQ, and as the weather turns cooler in the autumn they're a comforting rustic wine for fall.
Marchesi Frescobaldi Nippozano Riserva 2012 ($19)
Another classic, crowd-pleasing red is Chianti--- and although Chianti can range greatly in price level with plenty of premium examples out there, I found a fantastic bottling for under $20: the Nippozano Riserva 2012 from Marchesi Frescobaldi, which you can pick up for only $19. The wines of Chianti are some of the most versatile, food-friendly wines in Italy- bright red cherry and plum fruit flavors with an earthy spice backbone, with lovely aromas of violets and herbs. This is pure elegance and class in a glass.
Casa de Mouraz Tinto 2011 ($14.99)
Finally, one trick to finding great budget-friendly bottles is to look at the dry-style table wines of Portugal. Because Portugal is famous for their fortified Port dessert wines, you can find some amazing values in all of the other wines they produce! The Casa de Mouraz Tinto 2011 from the Dao region is only $14.99. This is a full-bodied and dry red made from a blend of indigenous grapes. Fun fact: this vineyard was the first Certified Organic vineyard in the entire Dão region! I know we are all paying attention these days to wines that are consciously produced by winemakers who are embracing green practices, wines we can feel great about drinking. This wine is brimming with black cherry and black raspberry fruit notes with some nice tannins adding structure and some sultry cinnamon and clove flavors in the finish.
Jessica Elaine Garcia
Wine Director, El Meson Restaurant
Xarmant Txakoli 2015 ($19)
“Txakoli” is a light, crisp white wine that’s great for summer in Texas. It is the traditional wine of the Basque, a people that live in both Spain and France along the Atlantic coast. It pairs well with boiled shrimp at the beach, pan seared red snapper at home, or even crawfish at a picnic. “Xarmant” means “Charming” in the Basque language, and it is quite charming indeed. It gives off a flowery aroma on the nose, tart green apple flavors in the mouth, and because it’s bottled with some residual carbon dioxide it has a natural spritz. It’s just fun to drink.
El Primavera, Rioja 2014 ($16)
El Primavera is a youthful red Rioja wine with velvety tannins with fresh red and blue fruit flavors. Limiting the time it is aged in oak to just five months allows the Tempranillo grape characteristics to really stand out. The result is a wine with lively fruit. Enjoy with a roast, chicken fried steak, or Texas Bar-B-Q. One of the things that I love about this wine is that it is a family operation. Carlos Fernandez Gomez is a third generation winemaker and he sources his fruit from the 30 hectares of family own vineyards. I love small production, family wineries. You just know that love is an ingredient.
Gago, Toro 2014 ($15)
Telmo Rodriguez is perhaps Spain’s most prominent winemaker devoted to the Spanish grape. He makes wine in a variety of places around the country, and in each he grows that grape that best suit the place. Naturally, he grows nothing but Spanish varieties. Telmo makes it his mission to rescue abandoned and forgotten vineyards. It’s a lot of work but he loves it. For Telmo, wine is made in the vineyard. He employs natural farming and wine-making methods. If all goes right the vineyard, the wine practically makes itself. Made with 100% Tinta de Toro, enjoy this wine with grilled lamb chops, beef rib chop, big pork chop… anything with a bone in it.
Regina von Gootkin
Michael David Petite Petit Sirah ($18)
This was the first bottle of wine I can remember drinking and really feeling something when I drank it. A luscious, big red, perfect for a steak grilled to perfection or an assortment of hard cheeses. A great value, it's widely available throughout the country. I buy it on a regular basis. It also comes from a very cool family owned and operated winery, Michael David, out of Lodi, California.
Francis Ford Coppola Claret ($15)
Another of my go-to wines and widely available throughout the US for under $15. The British use the term “Claret” to describe Bordeaux-style blends, and even though this is made in California, you’ll feel like you’re sitting at Downton Abbey when you drink this rich, smooth red blend.
Predator Old Vine Zinfandel ($15)
This baby is a stunner. One of those wines where the producer must not know what they have and they price it too low. I expect this to jump up in the near future, so go buy a case and thank me later. For between $12 and $18 a bottle, you get ripe mouthfuls of what Lodi does best, old vine Zinfandel. Rich, chewy and exceptionally smooth. You won’t regret this one.
Sommelier, Kimpton Grey Hotel in Chicago
Gerard Bertrand Corbières ($15)
Red Blend, inexpensive, but subtly elegant and smooth. Perfect wine to drink with a simple cheese plate. Full fruit flavor with prominent terroir.
Rickshaw Pinot Noir ($14.99)
Light, smooth, bright cherry, dried fruit, hints of chocolate. Great on its own. Also, they donate a portion of their proceeds to nonprofit organizations. It’s a win-win!
Errazuriz MAX Carmenere ($16.99)
Excellent food wine, touch of black pepper. Blackberry and figs on the nose. Silky mouthfeel. If you are looking to branch out from a Cabernet you will love this.
Note: No fancy descriptions were given by Rachel. But we found the links for you. She says these wines are all widely distributed.
Zuccardi Serie A Malbec ($15)
2012 Montes Alpha Syrah ($19.99)
2013 Dashe Zinfandel ($19.99)
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