A decent, inexpensive red wine?
September 1, 2005 11:44 AM   Subscribe

A decent, inexpensive red wine?

Tomorrow is my boss's birthday, and she's a red wine fan. She normally drinks Black Opal, but I'd like to expand her horizons a bit. Any suggestions, that won't kill my wallet?
posted by verytres to Food & Drink (39 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Anything from Bonny Doon is a good bet. I like their Cardinal Zin lots.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:49 AM on September 1, 2005 [1 favorite]

Are you actually looking to expand your boss's horizons or are you looking to make a unique impression? A wine with a striking label design may be more well received in a gifting situation then a highly expensive bottle with a drab label. I'm guessing your looking for the trifecta here: affordable, potable, unique design.

Try something from Bonny Doon.
posted by quadog at 12:02 PM on September 1, 2005

Holy crap!

posted by quadog at 12:02 PM on September 1, 2005

Black Opal is already a cheap and not especially good wine, so your boss will probably be happy with whatever you get. For under $10 a bottle you'll do much better with Yellow Tail, especially if you're particularly looking for Australian wine. I like their cabernet-shiraz best, but whatever.

I also have fond memories of a cheap French with a sense of humor called Fat Bastard. I may be romanticizing it in my memory since I can never find it now.
posted by keatsandyeats at 12:04 PM on September 1, 2005

How inexpensive? I like the Yellow Tail Shiraz, and both Rosemount Estates Shiraz and Cabernet. All three are under $10/bottle. Don't expect to make a big impression with any of those bottles, though, as you can buy them at Wal-Mart. Wine Spectator has an article on inexpensive Australian wines, like the Yellow Tail.

I second the Bonny Doon suggestion, and I also really like the wines from Lions Peaks Vineyards in Paso Robles, CA. I've had the Lionnesse (a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc) and the Sangiovese. Both were excellent, and are in the $20-30 range. Unfortunately, unless you're in CA, you're unlikely to be able to get these for tomorrow.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:13 PM on September 1, 2005

I like Jindalee Shiraz for a nice everyday red. It's about $8/bottle or less, and the bright label makes it a fun gift.
posted by hamster at 12:14 PM on September 1, 2005

I'm partial to Rosemount's blended wines, especially the grenache shiraz.

You may also want to look through Oldman's Guide to Outsmarting Wine. There are suggestions for lots of scenarios, and it's an interesting read anyway.
posted by gnomeloaf at 12:18 PM on September 1, 2005

I second the Fat Bastard suggestion, and if you'd like to spend a little more, say $25-$50, a Chateauneuf-du-Pape would work as well (these can often be found at the grocery, even).
posted by JanetLand at 12:21 PM on September 1, 2005

Mirassou makes an excellent merlot that sells for around $10 a bottle. Their pinot noir is a bit lighter and also excellent.
posted by junkbox at 12:25 PM on September 1, 2005

Yuck. Yellow Tail in general is pretty cheap stuff, to be avoided for an occasion calling for anything more than an everyday kind of wine.

keatsandyeats was right on target with Fat Bastard though, in particular the Shiraz but the Merlot is fine as well.

Another wine I've come to adore at a good price point are the South African "goats" wines: Goats do Roam and (even better) Goat Roti though I'm not sure if the latter is available in the US.

As a general principle as well I think a lot of the Portuguese red wines from the Douro region have benefitted from an influx of money and many of them are fighting above their weight (price) class lately.
posted by mikel at 12:28 PM on September 1, 2005

There's a Pinot Noir by Rex Goliath that's been a crowd pleaser for me and sells for $8.99. I'd also recommend asking the wine seller what they recommend at your price point... I used to be afraid to do so but they usually have good picks and generally seem to enjoy the chance to make recommendations.
posted by mandlebrotz at 12:31 PM on September 1, 2005

Penfolds is an Aussie wine maker, their merlot is great and it's rather inexpensive, IIRC.
posted by AllesKlar at 12:35 PM on September 1, 2005

Big House Red is delicious and cheap.
posted by nyterrant at 1:11 PM on September 1, 2005

STOP! Stay away from Fat Bastard! Get away! It sucks, it reallys ucks.

Get Black Swan Shiraz if you're going cheap. I don't remember how much it cost but it was definite Yellow Tail range, perhaps a few dollars more.
posted by geoff. at 1:11 PM on September 1, 2005

This might not be useful for tomorrow night but one of my favourites is a shiraz ... d'Arenberg from South Australia's McLaren Vale...also second AllesKlars suggestion with Penfolds.
posted by Chimp at 1:16 PM on September 1, 2005

Our house red is Los Vascos cabernet sauvignon, a Chilean wine from the Lafite Rothschild vitners. It's $8 at Sam's Wine, and I'm pretty sure I've seen it for the same price in Cost Plus World Market, too. There's a Reserve bottling that runs more like $12-14, but it's not appreciably better, to my palette.

If you can't find it, Bonny Doon and Goats do Roam (a play on Cotes du Rhone) are fine choices. You could also do worse than a zinfandel from Ravenswood.
posted by me3dia at 1:20 PM on September 1, 2005

The price of what I suggested is about AUD 20....but cost will also depend where you are.
posted by Chimp at 1:22 PM on September 1, 2005

E. Guigal Cote du Rhone

Best $10 bottle of wine there is. I always have a bottle or two on hand.
posted by briank at 1:23 PM on September 1, 2005

I'll go along w/ Bonny Doon as well. We just returned from the Central Coast wine region, and honestly I can't remember having a bad wine anywhere. I'd also suggest Ravenswood Zinfandel; a great value.
posted by Heatwole at 1:30 PM on September 1, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks all, for the suggestions! I just got an email saying "surprise birthday happy hour" is tonight. I'm off to my friendly local wine merchant, with your suggestions (discreetly) in hand.
posted by verytres at 1:40 PM on September 1, 2005

If you can find it, Jacobs Creek Cabernet/Shiraz from 2001 and 2002 are quite good and go for below $10.
posted by grateful at 1:44 PM on September 1, 2005

The Big House Red is great. But, the twist off cap puts a lot of people off. I personally kind of like it. I also like the Toasted Head Red Wines and they have a pretty cool label.
posted by trbrts at 1:47 PM on September 1, 2005

Second/third/whatever Goats Do Roam and blended zins from Ravenswood, not to mention Bonny Doon. Rosemount Estates Shiraz and the other blends (they have, I think, a nice Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre blend.)

But really -- most wine is good wine. It's incredibly rare to get a truly bad bottle nowadays.
posted by Vidiot at 1:49 PM on September 1, 2005

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned "Three Buck Chuck" Shiraz or Merlot from Trader Joe's. I haven't had it, but everyone is always raving about it. Is it any good?
posted by jeanmari at 1:50 PM on September 1, 2005

I've only seen Three Buck Chuck as a white. I've had it a few times, and it's incredibly uneven...ranging from "nothing special, like Gallo" to "not bad, even tasty."
posted by Vidiot at 1:52 PM on September 1, 2005

I haven't had it, but everyone is always raving about it. Is it any good?

It's about as good as you'd expect $3 wine to be. Not offensive, but not great, either. Certainly better than MD20/20.
posted by me3dia at 1:52 PM on September 1, 2005

Jest Red - my buddy Bob turned me onto it, and it's a GREAT red. < $10.br>
Or, if you're looking for a fun label wrapped around a really tasty wine, try the "7 Deadly Zins". Yummy! < $20.br>
Finally, I agree with Vidiot - most wines _are_ good wines these days.
posted by noahv at 2:06 PM on September 1, 2005

"I'm surprised that no one has mentioned "Three Buck Chuck" Shiraz or Merlot from Trader Joe's. I haven't had it, but everyone is always raving about it. Is it any good?"

Blecchhhhhh... I would NEVER, EVER give tht as a gift.

Although I have been guilty of buying it for myself in leaner times....
posted by WaterSprite at 2:18 PM on September 1, 2005

Yellow Tail Shiraz is the best cheap wine imho. Very drinkable, but nothing memorable. retails for around 6 bucks a bottle in my area. Hard to beat.
posted by vronsky at 3:31 PM on September 1, 2005

Below is a list of all the Australian red wines that were rated "Bloody Good" (the highest rating) by Max Allen and Peter Forrestal in Quaff 2005.

Wines featured in Quaff are those which you "enjoy immensely, find out the price and then say to yourself: 'Bloody hell, does it really ONLY cost that much?'" Those that also receive Quaff's "Bloody Good" rating are "a really delicious example of the style that over-delivers on quality and offers great value". Only about 10% of wines reviewed get the Bloody Good rating. Prices are in Australian dollars, and you can usually find them a few dollars cheaper than this (ie, all should be under AUS$15).

Of special note are:

2003 De Bortoli Wild Vine Shiraz - Best Red Wine Under $10; and
2003 Hardys Oomoo Shiraz - Best Red Wine Of The Year

2002 De Bortoli Deen Vat 9 Cabernet Sauvignon $10
2002 Kington Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $12
2002 Lindemans Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $13
NV Matthew Lang Cabernet Sauvignon $5
2003 Mitchelton Preece Cabernet Sauvignon $15
2003 Saltram Cabernet Sauvignon $9
2003 Yalumba Y Series Cabernet Sauvignon $12
2004 Lindemans Cawarra Merlot $7
2003 Oxford Landing Merlot $8
2003 Sticks Yarra Valley Merlot $15
2003 Beelgara Estate Silky Oak Shiraz $8
2002 Beelgara Estate 15.02 Black Shiraz $12
2002 Bidgeebong Triangle Shiraz $14
2002 Billa Bridge Shiraz $11
2003 De Bortoli Wild Vine Shiraz $8
2003 Hardys Oomoo Shiraz $14
2003 Lindemans Reserve Shiraz $13
2002 Norfolk Rise Road to Robe Shiraz $15
2002 Norfolk Rise Wave Crest Shiraz $15
2003 Rosemount Estate Shiraz $15
2002 Saltram Barossa Shiraz $15
2003 Tandou Wontanella Shiraz $11
2003 Taylors Shiraz $17
2003 Westend Richland Shiraz $9
2002 Yalumba Galway Shiraz $13
2003 Yellow Tail Shiraz $10
2003 De Bortoli Windy Peak Pinot Noir $12
2003 and 2002 De Bortoli Windy Peak Sangiovese $12
2002 Bleasdale Malbec $14
2003 Broken Earth Petit Verdot $15
2003 Zilzie Buloke Reserve Tempranillo $13
2003 Baldivis Estate Cabernet Merlot $12
2003 Banrock Station Cabernet Merlot $8
2002 Billa Bridge Cabernet Merlot $11
2002 Clairault Swagmans Cabernet Merlot $14
2002 Lindemans Reserve Cabernet Merlot $13
2003 Rouge Homme Cabernet Merlot $15
2002 Saltram Barossa Cabernet Merlot $15
2002 Trentham Estate Cabernet Merlot $15
2003 Heartland Stickleback Red $12
2002 Peter Lehmann Grenach Shiraz Mourvedre $15
2002 Dorrien Estate Bin 7 Cabernet Shiraz $13
2003 Poets Corner Shiraz Cabernet $10
2002 Coriole Contour Sangiovese Shiraz $15
2002 Wolf Blass Eaglehawk Shiraz Merlot Cabernet $9

If you're looking for something special over AUS$15:

2002 Blue Pyrenees Cabernet Sauvignon $ 18
2001 Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz $ 20
2002 Casella Yendah Vale Sangiovese $ 18
1999 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Riserva $ 25
2002 Coriole Redstone Shiraz Cabernet Merlot $ 19
2003 De Bertoli Gulf Station Shiraz $ 16
2002 Ferngrove Majestic Cabernet Sauvignon $ 25
2001 Hills View Blewitt Springs Shiraz $ 22
2001 Kingston Estate Echelon Shiraz $ 21
2002 Kirihill Shiraz Mourvedre Grenache $ 20
2002 Lamonts Cabernet Merlot $ 19
2002 Maglieri Sangiovese $ 23
2003 Matua Valley Wairarapa Pinot Noir $ 31
2002 Miramar Shiraz $ 23
2002 Mitolo Jester Shiraz $ 24
2001 Parri Estate Shiraz $ 25
2002 Penfolds Cellar Reserve Grenache $ 40
2002 Pirramimma Old Bush Vine Grenache $ 18
2002 Richard Hamilton Hut Block Cabernet Sauvignon $ 20
2001 Saltram Mamre Brook Shiraz $ 21
2003 Shingle peak Marlborough Pinot Noir $ 24
2003 Stefano Lubiana Primavera Pinot Noir $ 25
2001 Tatachilla McLaren Vale Shiraz $ 23
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:20 PM on September 1, 2005

Yellow Tail sucks, and I'm never inviting those of you who recommended it to my house. Rosemount Estates is OK, but I'll go with the Bonny Doon recommendation. It's delicious and the bottles are always funny and memorable.

Three Buck Chuck? Are you kidding? For a gift??
posted by languagehat at 5:47 PM on September 1, 2005

I buy a case of this every couple of months from Sea Grape on Hudson Street, NYC. A totally bargain-basement full-bodied French for around 7.99 a bottle. Cheers!
posted by Decani at 7:26 PM on September 1, 2005

Thank you languagehat, I'm glad someone said it. The first time I tried Yellow Tail I was pleasantly surprised, then I realized the only reason I thought it was good was because it was a drinkable wine in the hobo-wine price bracket. That's like saying Keystone Light is good when the competitors are Natural Light and Pabst.
posted by geoff. at 7:28 PM on September 1, 2005

I like Georges Duboeuf's offerings from the Beaujolais area - you really can't go wrong: Fleurie, Moulin-a-vent, whatever. They rarely top $10 and for what they are, a light red table wine made out of the eminently drinkable Gamay grape, they're very nice.

If your boss is a typical American wine connoisseur who likes being hit over the head with an oaken bat, she might enjoy something different for a change.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:57 PM on September 1, 2005

Argentine Malbecs ("only for cutting other wines" say some folks I know) are delicious all by themselves!

So there! you "some folks I know. . ."
posted by punkbitch at 11:31 PM on September 1, 2005

Hey, taking a short break from the hurricane to say:

1)Decani, where are you? I am in Sea Grape just about nightly.

2) Les Heretiques is very good for the price, but there are other great ones for cheap, such as the Four Vines Zinfandel from Calofornia for about $14, the Chianti from Rocca delle Macie for about the same, and Casa Solar form Argentina for about $8.

3) Goats do Roam is fun, and kind of like the Pepsi of wine, but I'm afraid I wouldn't want to give it as a gift.
posted by lackutrol at 11:51 PM on September 1, 2005

I realize I am late into the game, since the original questioner needed an answer yesterday, but I am shocked that no one recommended going to a good wine store.

I am fortuante enough to live near Moore Brothers. These guys have all kinds arrangements with smaller, primarily old world wineries. The entire store is kept at a cool wine cellar temp, and every person who works the floor can tell you about every wine they carry, many of which are in the $10-15 price range.

There must be wine stores like them in other parts of the country. And if you are ever in the area, check them out.
posted by szg8 at 8:38 AM on September 2, 2005

Argentine Malbecs ("only for cutting other wines" say some folks I know) are delicious all by themselves!

Screw those folks -- malbecs are some of my favorite wines, far better than anything Chile has to offer, and still quite reasonable (though not the incredible bargain they were a few years ago). Try them, people! They go with meat, pizza, pasta, you name it, and they're absolutely delicious.
posted by languagehat at 9:06 AM on September 2, 2005

lackutrol: I'm in Williamsburg but we go to the Village reasonably often. Sea Grape carries two or three cheap French reds we like, so we tend to stock up there. As well as Les Heretiques we've found that the Maison Nicolas Pinot Noir and Cabernet are both very decent. And also 7.99 a pop although one of our local liquor stores does those at the astonishing price of 6.99. Buying a case from Sea Grape gets us a 10% discount though so it doesn't make a lot of difference.
posted by Decani at 12:41 PM on September 3, 2005

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