Don't Drink That, Drink This! (part 2)

Cheap wine worth drinking


Last time, I took a look at expensive wines and made some suggestions for finding relative values. Today, let’s look at cheap wines. You can buy a lot of crap out there for almost no money. How about spending a few dollars more and getting something worth drinking for a change?

Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with really cheap wine, but other times it’s just dreck that nobody should have to suffer through. The world is awash with wine, and while we are inundated with ever more expensive wines, some things continue to fly under the radar!

So let’s see where the real values in the world are and discover how you can drink well for just a little more. Don’t drink that, drink this!

Photo courtesy slack12 via Flickr/CC

Don't Drink: Crappy Cheap Shiraz

Cheap Shiraz can be sweet and fruity, and in generally resembles Capri Sun juice drink more than it resembles wine. This is truly a shame since Shiraz/Syrah is such a complex and interesting grape. Usually more fruity than grapy, the wines have had a rough couple of years, which means that many are available for a song. Try one of these for the full fruit, spice and savory meat experience that Syrah can offer.

Drink this:

Sonoma Vineyards Syrah 2007

Echelon Syrah 2003

Photo courtesy Marv! via Flickr/CC

Don't Drink: Crappy Cheap Chianti

Cheap Chianti can be god-awful. Thin, acidic, shrill and just totally unappealing. How do producers make wine this bad from such a loveable little grape?

Sangiovese is arguably Italy’s most important grape, responsible for iconic wines such as Brunello and Chianti Classico, as well as a slew of delicious table wines. Spend the extra dollar and enjoy a delicious Chianti, or look for some of the pure Sangiovese wines that drink like mini super Tuscans for a fraction of the price.

Drink this:

Melini Chianti Borghi d'Elsa 2010

La Carraia Sangiovese Umbria 2009

Photo courtesy Justintoscana via Flickr/CC

Don't Drink: Crappy Cheap Côtes du Rhône

Côtes du Rhône is like Chianti, over cropped and over produced until the worst resemble little more than industrial floor cleaner. That’s not to say that there aren’t great values in Côtes du Rhône, but you might end up finding wines from pure Grenache that offer at least as much pleasure if not more. Add some oomph when you take a look at Spain.

Spain may be the historic home of Grenache, and the vines have adapted well to the climate and soils. This yields inexpensive wines that are packed with plump, juicy fruit.

Drink this:

Bodegas Zabrun Garnacha del Fuego 2009

Vina Alarba Old Vine Garnacha 2008

Photo courtesy roomjosh via Flickr/CC

Don't Drink: Crappy Cheap Red Blends

So many cheap wines are simply blends of other wines that couldn’t be sold. Truth is, these blends often taste better than their component wines, with one wine covering the faults of the others. But blending comes with a price. You tend toward the mean, so while you might get something decent to drink, you’ll probably get something totally anonymous.

Want a red blend that has real character and won’t break the bank? I’m still hot on Portugal, arguably providing the best red wine values in the world. You do have to be a bit choosy, but when you find a winner, it can be a towering home run.

Drink this:

Palestra Duore Red

Cortes de Cima Reserva 2003

Photo courtesy Ulrich Thumult via Flickr/CC

Don't Drink: Crappy Cheap Sparkling Wine

Bubbles aren’t just for the holidays, they’re for celebrating the everyday!

There is a sea of sparkling wine out there today, some crap, some great and most priced a little ambitiously, as I would put it. Surprise, you don’t have to spend an arm and leg for a good bottle of bubbles! Keep it simple and fresh and you can get away surprisingly inexpensively. So inexpensively, you might as well buy a pair of these delicious sparklers.

Drink this:

Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene

Barefoot Bubbly Extra Dry

Photo courtesy rolleh via Flickr/CC

Want to Learn More?

Check out the first installment of Don't Drink That; Drink This!

Slideshow View

Mentioned in this article


  • Gregory, this is wonderful! Thanks so much.

    Jan 09, 2012 at 3:15 PM

  • I found an awesome wine and you won't believe the price. I was in World Market buying coffee and came across this wine. $5.29 if you buy more than 4! It tastes as good as any expensive malbec or sangiovese I ever had. It is call Gaetano D' Aquino, and it is said Toscana red on the bottle. I bought 30 bottles. They are getting more in Thursday...I am buying 30 more TRY THIS WINE! TRUST ME!

    Jan 09, 2012 at 3:17 PM

  • Snooth User: Stevern86
    909211 36

    TJ's has the best deal on bubbly under 10 bucks. Blason Cremant de Borgone. At $9.99 it drinks like 20 bucks.

    Jan 09, 2012 at 3:27 PM

  • Snooth User: tidly
    210133 0

    I love a 4 grape blend called Rare Red. It retails for 5.99, great daily drinker.

    Jan 09, 2012 at 5:36 PM

  • My favorite wine is very inexpensive. It is a Meritage by Sterling Vineyards. It's about $12.00 but tastes like $120.00. Sometime it is on sale at my market even a buy one get one, that is when I stock up.

    Jan 09, 2012 at 6:19 PM

  • Snooth User: Apester
    996399 0


    How about a segment on, "if you like this, then try these"? I would love it if you list a wine at a premium price (E.G., Duck Horn or Rambauer Chardonay) and then list the same type at a moderate price and at an inexpensive price. Categorize them by the main flavour in the premium price wine and try your best to find the deals that match the closest flavor!

    Jan 09, 2012 at 9:58 PM

  • Snooth User: Apester
    996399 0


    How about a segment on, "if you like this, then try these"? I would love it if you list a wine at a premium price (E.G., Duck Horn or Rambauer Chardonay) and then list the same type at a moderate price and at an inexpensive price. Categorize them by the main flavour in the premium price wine and try your best to find the deals that match the closest flavor.

    Jan 09, 2012 at 9:58 PM

  • Snooth User: Charkie
    441737 18

    I agree with the Meritage by Sterling Vinyards. Cost Plus has them for $8.99 every few months. Also, Castle Rock Pinot Noir and Cabernet, also at Cost Plus for 5.99 when on sale.

    Jan 09, 2012 at 10:06 PM

  • Our daily red, cheap and great! And sulfite free as a bonus

    Jan 09, 2012 at 10:09 PM

  • Thanks bostooties and Charkie, for bringing back fond memories of Sterling Vineyards. They used to sell a very good value cheap Pinot Noir through the now defunct Oddbins chain here in England in the early 1990's.
    They also used to sell La Cetto Petite Syrah, from Baja California, at about the same price point, and this was always an enjoyable spicy red.

    Jan 10, 2012 at 5:22 AM

  • Charkie. I'm in South Fla and we don't have a Cost Plus. Too bad. Sounds like a good deal. I'll look for Castle Rock. I very much like Cabernet. I've been enjoying Red Diamond lately. Was on sale at my Publix for $7.99. Have to run out and get some more before the sale ends.

    Jan 10, 2012 at 9:43 AM

  • Snooth User: Kate Statton
    Hand of Snooth
    853836 1,080

    Hi Apester - over the summer, Greg wrote a series of articles similar to that "If you like this, try these" idea, called "What to Drink Now." You can find that list of articles here:

    Jan 10, 2012 at 9:51 AM

  • Snooth User: Brian1991
    636176 7

    Will Bodegas Zabrun Garnacha del Fuego 2009 get better with age? If so, how long should I hold it before I drink it?

    Jan 10, 2012 at 3:18 PM

  • Snooth User: Charkie
    441737 18

    Bostootsies, I see that they have Total Wine and More in Florida. You can just about find anything there and their prices are good. My first trip there was like being a "Kid in the Candy Store"

    Jan 10, 2012 at 10:20 PM

  • Bostootsies, they also have costco's in florida and they have very good prices on wine as well.

    Jan 11, 2012 at 3:52 PM

  • Snooth User: RedWineAl
    1021395 0

    Thumbs up for Portugal. Don't write off English Fizz...! Enjoying Ripasso as a great cheaper/lighter alternative to Amarone.

    Jan 19, 2012 at 2:58 PM

  • Snooth User: Trader Joe
    1033715 1

    My Cost Plus in Boise has the Olive Garden's Roscato, Primo Amore Moscato and the Poggio Moscato for around $9.99. I wish Trader Joe's would come to the Treasure Valley.

    Feb 06, 2012 at 7:25 PM

  • Snooth User: rktg
    1067782 13

    LOVE Barefoot Bubbly!

    Apr 16, 2012 at 7:53 PM

Add a Comment

Search Articles

Best Wine Deals

See More Deals

Snooth Media Network