Cheap Red Wine for Holiday Parties

10 value selections not to miss, plus a few extras


When shopping for wine for a holiday party, you generally have to watch how much you spend. It can be tough finding wines under $10 a bottle, but there are some gems to be found. I just tasted through a case of value priced wines and found that you sort of get what you pay for. Reach down to the lowest prices, and you’re lucky to find something that really gives any pleasure. Spend a few dollars more, and you can find some surprisingly good wines.

I have to admit that I was surprised by the quality of my top wine in this tasting. It’s complex and fresh, with excellent length. It’s a great wine for the table and even for sipping, but it may not be the best wine for a party atmosphere. I’ve tried to give you an idea where these wines might be best. They’re all great values and worth checking out, just with different personalities. It’s actually amazing that wines at this price can have so much personality, and it’s also a testament to the men and women who give us all this great juice.

So save some money this holiday season and support you favorite value wine producer!

Photo courtesy LexnGer via Flickr/CC

2008 Cabriz Colheita Seleccionada Dao 13% $10

Killer for Dinner

A bit spicy on the nose with hints of oak and pink peppercorn adding detail to bitter cherry and wild raspberry fruit and some fine baked soil notes. This is fairly opulent on entry, with a really nice fresh and not forced richness. The tannins are surfing under the tender red fruit, but add a nice structural firmness here. There’s a nice wave of chocolate that adds complexity to the back end and some cedary oak that emerges with time. The finish is a very fine blend of spice, soil, amarena cherry and oak and has excellent persistence. This is really nice and can easily stand up to wines twice the price. 89pts

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2010 Tenuta Rapitala Nero d’Avola Campo Reale 13.5% $11

Great for a Party

Smoky and meaty on the nose like a salumeria, with leather, anise seed and black fruit tones. Fairly dense on the palate if not terribly rich. This is full of dry material, with nice black cherry flavors that are framed with that salumi note, some earthy spice tones and a leather edge. This turns much clearer on the back end, gaining a little coffee as it transitions into a clear, slightly medicinal black cherry finish. Shows nicely mature tannins right through to the finale. 88pts

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2009 Librandi Ciro Rosso 13.5% $10

Bring out the Pizza!

This smells funky, rusty and vaguely of rosemary, with dusty mineral notes and wiry red currant fruit. A touch sweet on entry, then brisk with acid and dispersed but angular tannins. This offers up lovely tension in the mouth, with juicy if slightly wild and slightly herbal astringent red berry/cranberry fruit. The finish is a touch acidic and perhaps a bit short, but this is complex and has an elegance that most wines at this price point simply lack.  87pts

Buy this wine at Sherry-Lehmann!

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2009 Cono Sur Carmenere Colchagua 13.5% $10

Great Value All-Purpose Wine.

This has a fine tobacco note on the nose, roasted herb and vegetable tones, and nice base of spicy oak, all wrapped up in black cherry fruit. Smooth and rich in the mouth, this is almost a bit fat though the acidity kicks in to keep things fairly focused. A lush wine, full of creamy black cherry fruit accented by hints of roasted herbs and vegetables. Finishes with some extracted licorice flavors and wood tannins. Feels like a more expensive wine. 87pts

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2008 Fado Alentejo 13.5% $9

A Sipping Wine for Casual Affairs.

This is spicy and just a little grassy on the nose, with dark, liquory fruit topped with nettles and sandalwood. The aromas turn more towards the sandalwood side of things with air. This is smooth and elegant with really fine cherry fruit on the palate and aromatic raspberry accents. Gaining weight and some density with air, this is drinking very well in the classic European style. Finishes with a burst of spice and good fruit persistence.  This is quite good. 87pts

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  • Snooth User: D9sus4
    163476 316

    Nice article and some good suggestions for under $10 bottles of red wine. But, I'm a bit disappointed that you only had one bottle from a winery in the USA, and it didn't even make the top ten.

    Ok, so here's my vote for the best under $10 bottle of red wine, 2005 Columbia Crest Two Vines Shiraz from Washington state, which sells for $6.98/bottle on average here in Missouri. It's lush and jammy with lots of blackberry & black currant flavors, and it's already a mature 6 year old wine ready to drink now.

    Just my 2 cents worth on this subject, take it for what it's worth.

    Dec 02, 2011 at 3:46 PM

  • I recommend Montes Claros, Alentejo-Portugal. Grapes: Trincadeira, Castelão Francês And Tinta Roriz.

    Dec 02, 2011 at 4:01 PM

  • Snooth User: gkerns
    736661 127

    This may not appeal to hardcore "winos", but I'll bet Menage a Trois red will be a big hit with the general crowd at a party.

    Dec 02, 2011 at 5:33 PM

  • Snooth User: jonnyW
    542214 12

    Cono Sur is always reliable, in any I have tasted in the UK.

    Dec 03, 2011 at 6:20 AM

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