The Return of the Cheap Drunk

7 fun, food-friendly wines under $10


It’s been a long time since I donned my Cheap Drunk hat and sussed out some of my favorite bargains to share with you. Before you get all riled up, let me say that I do not advocate getting drunk on wine, booze, or beer. It’s very possible that you can’t handle it, bro. You’ve got to be a warlock or F-18 to roll like this.

And what does "roll like this" mean? Well, it simply means getting top bang for your buck. It’s bi-winning. You’re winning when you buy the wine for less than $10, and winning when you drink it and it blows away wines that are two or three times the price.

Great values in your glass

There have never been as many great values in the market place as there are today. All the advances in the vineyards and the cellar have trickled down and have had a profound effect on wines from every region and at every price point. But what makes these wines stand out so much in comparison is the vast improvement of their quality when taken as a whole.

Expensive wine has been pretty uniformly good for quite some time. The same thing can’t be said about inexpensive wine. It wasn’t that long ago that you could find undrinkable dreck on any wine shop’s shelves. Yes, it is still possible to do, but at the same time you can find great wines for under $10!

Jam Jar Sweet Shiraz South Africa

This is not the wine for everyone, but if you are looking for a lightly sweet, easy-to-drink red wine that is packed with fresh berry fruit, look no further. Your search has ended with this well named Shiraz. It’s jammy, lip-smackingly so, and an unabashed fruit bomb, but lots of consumers are looking for this style today, and with few wines to choose from, Jam Jar has emerged a category killer!
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Bodegas Borsao Monte Oton

Grenache is all over Southern France and Spain, producing great values from Côtes du Rhône to little gems like this bottling from Borsao. This wine shares a little of the sweet, jammy character that the Jam Jar features in spades, but is a drier wine. Definitely a crowd-pleaser -- at under $10, sometimes way under, it’s a real steal in today’s market. Try this with some burgers in the backyard and you won’t be able to control your smile!
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Almira Los Dos

Can’t decide between Grenache and Syrah? Split the difference with this fine blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah from Spain’s Campo de Borja. This is young and unabashedly fruity, but it’s also dry and vivid with soft, silky texture. This consistently comes in at the top of the bottom of the heap. You can buy a bottle and a slice of pizza: a food pairing that actually works pretty well here!
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Coltibuono Chianti Cetamura

Speaking of pizza, most people think Chianti is the ideal match. Me? I order beer. It’s a wheaty thing, but who am I to judge! If you’re looking for a fine affordable Chianti, there are plenty of choices out there. I stick to a few of my favorites, and this is a case where I tend to seek out the better vintages as opposed to better producers, but getting both can mean big-time home run. 2009 was a hot vintage in Tuscany, and while there were stresses on the vines, some producers really got the most out of their vines and produced gorgeous Chianti. Coltibuono’s Cetamura is such a wine: plump and fruity with a nice touch of spice and typical refreshing acidity. It comes in just under $10, so the slice of pizza is out, but this really would be better with a nice pasta dish.
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Melini Chianti Borghi d’Elsa

If you’re looking for a Chianti that you can have and eat your pie too, this Melini is amazingly easy on both the pocketbook and the palate. It’s a quaffing wine, uncomplicated and fresh, but with enough zesty fruit to easily handle some tomatoes and cheese, maybe even some strategically placed slices of pepperoni!
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Castle Rock Petit Sirah

OK, I’m on a pizza kick, and I am running with it. If you didn’t stop with the strategic pepperoni reserves paired with the Melini, you must be on the look out for something with a little more oomph to handle your sausage-pepperoni-peppers-onions-anchovies-and-double-cheese pie! What’s the solution? How about a plummy, slightly spicy Petit Sirah? That’s just the ticket. This modestly priced version has all the gutsy fruit you’re gonna need to take down that monster pie! In fact, this wine kicks so much butt that you’ll regret not buying as much as you can to serve with steaks this summer, roasts, burgers, and -- my favorite Petite Sirah pairing -- jerk chicken! This is a killer value.
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Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel

So, how can I wrap this up cleanly? Not an easy task after running around the world in search of great values for you. It’s tough to follow up the Petite Sirah, and I should probably stop while I’m ahead, but here goes. If you feel like circling back to the beginning and closing the loop with a popularly styled jammy wine, look no further than this super-affordable Zinfandel. Actually, this is a pretty good choice to end with as it turns out, since variety is the spice of life, and this Zin might actually be better suited to barbecue and the like. Let’s revel in all the value wines out there these days. Who knew you could drink so well for under $10? Now we all do!
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More wines for a cheap drunk

Did you see our earlier installments of this series? Check out:

Six Wines for a Cheap Drunk

Six More Wines for a Cheap Drunk

See more value wines at:

10 Wines to Buy for Holiday Gifts

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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: pezspu123
    466440 1

    Great list you put together here. I think the only one I've tried is the Gnarly Head - looks like I need to get shopping. Thanks for the recs.

    Mar 23, 2011 at 11:39 AM

  • Creative List, but most not found on the West Coast

    Mar 29, 2011 at 1:56 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    All of these wines are in national distribution.

    Mar 29, 2011 at 9:07 AM

  • Snooth User: courgette
    124481 158

    I bought a case of Evodia 2009 Old Vines Garnacha at Costco recently, having been astonished at the quality of the bottle I picked up out of curiosity for $7! Spanish, 100 yr old vines, "custom cuvee for Eric Solomon." My only complaint is the 15% alc-- that astonished me, as I would never have guessed it from tasting it, and usually I'm pretty sensitive to high alc. content. This has none of the "hot" quality I've disliked in some high alc. wines. Then again, I've read about the undependability of those percentages-- maybe this is more like 13%, which would have been my guess. Totally delish, anyhow.

    Mar 29, 2011 at 3:14 PM

  • Snooth User: suziqcu
    505632 10

    While I'll skip the jam wine....I will look for the others! I, too, have had only the Gnarly Head...not a bad wine :)

    Mar 29, 2011 at 3:19 PM

  • Snooth User: Mydietarea
    1328028 33

    My only complaint is the 15% alc-- that astonished me, as I would never have guessed it from tasting it, and usually I'm pretty sensitive to high alc.

    Aug 04, 2013 at 11:05 PM

  • Thats fascinating...

    Aug 14, 2013 at 12:35 AM

  • Snooth User: CarBuyWhiz
    1332598 26


    Aug 17, 2013 at 2:22 AM

  • awesome

    Sep 06, 2013 at 1:02 PM

  • Snooth User: irategoal
    1339624 38


    Sep 07, 2013 at 5:04 AM

  • awesome

    Sep 11, 2013 at 2:00 AM

  • nice

    Sep 24, 2013 at 5:45 AM

  • Snooth User: knotbirds
    1380229 34

    All of these wines are in national distribution.

    Oct 09, 2013 at 3:25 AM

  • Its wonderful

    Oct 09, 2013 at 5:20 AM

  • Snooth User: burlypear
    1383363 35

    Thats superior

    Oct 17, 2013 at 7:16 AM

  • Snooth User: languidbox
    1385782 33

    My only complaint is the 15% alc-- that astonished me, as I would never have guessed it from tasting it, and usually I'm pretty sensitive to high alc.

    Oct 23, 2013 at 5:22 AM

  • Snooth User: jamchimps
    1385295 43


    Oct 28, 2013 at 2:07 AM

  • Snooth User: wildunique
    1390221 33


    Oct 31, 2013 at 12:08 AM

  • Snooth User: poleerst
    1400658 33

    reative List, but most not found on the West Coast

    Nov 08, 2013 at 12:27 AM

  • Snooth User: purrflimsy
    1400671 35


    Nov 11, 2013 at 1:30 AM

  • All of these wines are in national distribution.

    Dec 11, 2013 at 4:49 AM

  • All of these wines are in national distribution.

    Dec 20, 2013 at 5:33 AM

  • All of these wines are in national distribution.

    Jan 21, 2014 at 11:11 PM

  • Snooth User: gamysplash
    1487309 35


    Apr 04, 2014 at 4:52 AM

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