Best red wine for everyday drinking
August 6, 2015 9:13 PM   Subscribe

So, I have been hearing that a glass of red wine after dinner is good for health. Also, I like drinking wine but,till now, I have mostly been limited to a glass or so at restaurants. So, I am a novice about wines and don't know much about good wineries or sources. I looked up review sites, but I am not sure which review sites are trustworthy. What would be a good red wine you recommend?

I don't want anything very expensive. I guess something between $12 to $18 per bottle should do. If this is too low/high, feel free to suggest appropriate price range for something to be drunk daily.

I usually don't like anything fruity or too sweet or kinda out-of-the-box taste. But, would love to know if you have a favorite that you feel is really worth a try.

Also, it will be good if I can buy it online, in bulk or something.
posted by TheLittlePrince to Food & Drink (40 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Box wine, Naked Grape cabernet. Stays fresh forever, drinkable but not cloying, pretty darn cheap. Low waste, the packaging is fully recyclable, too.
posted by kellyblah at 9:19 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Two favorites of mine -- lighter/livelier, Lapierre "Raisins Gaulois" Vin de France, imported by Kermit Lynch, available online. Heavier/richer (but not at all extreme), Sean Thackrey "Pleiades", released annually, currently available online. On the pricier side but I think it's a good value for the money (it generally does sell out partway through the year, so I grab it by the occasional case).

I'm not a wine reviewer so I'll leave it to the pros, plenty of descriptions of both of these online, but at this point they're nearly the only reds I bother buying (we drink almost exclusively white at home), and our guests and people we bring them to seem very happy with both.
posted by j.edwards at 9:20 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe I'm too much of a wine snob (I have a cellar of close to a thousand bottles), but I wouldn't want to drink the exact same thing every night. I understand not wanting to spend a ton of time researching and choosing new stuff all the time, but I'd encourage you to at least find a rotation of several that you like and can switch between.

It's super hard to recommend specific wines without more information on what you like. If I were in your shoes, I'd go to Costco and buy a mixed case (12 bottles) of a bunch of different stuff and see what you're into. If you do that and come back with some info on what you liked and didn't like, I think we can probably give some more concrete suggestions. I don't buy much in that price range, but I think you should be able to do ok there.
posted by primethyme at 9:21 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: At least here in Australia there are lots of wine subscription type clubs where you pay a certain amount and they mail you a case of mixed bottles. You can select just reds, or just whites, or a mixture, or just local wines, or something like that. Some of them require a monthly subscription, and others you can just order when you start running low on your last order.

I'd recommend using one of these to start with, and then when you find a few you like from your mixed boxes, look for them in the shops and see if that works out cheaper. (It might not, actually).
posted by lollusc at 9:25 PM on August 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

An ex of mine bought a new bottle every time he went to Trader Joe's, anything between 5 and 12 bucks, chosen mostly at random. He got a huge variety and only had a few over the years that were duds.

Caveat: cannot personally vouch for this method since I don't drink, but it worked for him.
posted by phunniemee at 9:32 PM on August 6, 2015 [7 favorites]

Where are you located? That'll have an impact of suggestions. If you are in California - then I recommend a Zinfandel from the central valley (preferably a vineyard you have not heard of) - can be as cheap as $8-$10 and amazing.
posted by Toddles at 9:37 PM on August 6, 2015

If you're a total wine novice, just start buying any kind of wine! Your budget is actually pretty generous; you can get great wine 15 bucks (okay, not like drunk at castles in france wine, but totally great for sippin' on). Try a zinfandel one week and a pinot noir the next! The world of wine is enormous, but that should be a FUN fact instead of an intimidating one. Head into a local wine shop and ask for a "variety pack" -- "hey, I want to try a few different kinds of wine; can you recommend some good ones around 10 bucks each?" Definitely mention that you don't like sweet, and you don't like too fruity. Use their knowledge at first, and then you'll be more comfortable grabbing a bottle at the supermarket later.
You'll figure out pretty quickly what wines you like, and which are just kinda meh. Then you can start buying more of the ones you like. Like, maybe you'll be a cabernet person, or maybe you'll be way into syrah -- who knows! Wine is fun!
posted by missmary6 at 9:51 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am in NYC.

I like the idea of wine subscription clubs. There are so many though to choose from. Any recommendations there?
posted by TheLittlePrince at 9:51 PM on August 6, 2015

Extending primethyme's suggestion: buy different kinds, but also keep a journal. Note which ones you liked, which ones you didn't, tasting notes. Then you can begin to understand your preferences and look forward to trying new wines based on taste, rather than at random as I do.
posted by mcav at 9:52 PM on August 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Not a huge wine drinker, but I usually have a few bottles around of what I consider my "house" wines - ones that I like for everyday drinking with dinner.** But it took me years of trying out all kinds of different wines from all over the place to decide what I liked. I did the "buy a bottle at random at Trader Joe's or World Market when I go there" for a long while to try out some different ones, in addition to trying wines when going out and then writing down the info when I liked it. The only way for me to really decide what I liked was to keep track of brands/types in a spreadsheet with ratings, but that may be a bit overboard...

These days I don't stray much away from my favorites for buying stuff to have at home, but I'll still try new ones every now and then. It's nice to be a bit organized about it: read up on the different grape varieties and try different sorts, then trying out things from various regions, and so on. It's fun! You don't have to be a wine snob or wine connoisseur in order to enjoy it, and then slowly you can decide what you personally like. With inexpensive wines in the $10-12 range, even if you occasionally get a dud it's fine.

** Right now I have a bottle of Gabbiano Chianti Classico, one Da Vinci Chianti, and a few Layer Cake primitivo. All at decent enough prices, and they taste good to me.
posted by gemmy at 9:54 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm a big fan of Concha y Toro Frontera wines, particularly their Cabernet Sauvignon and the Carmenere.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:02 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure what's available in NYC, but as far as I can tell, the best-distributed red in that price range that I like is the Coppola Diamond Red Blend.
posted by rhizome at 10:14 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

The everyday wine at my house is Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon, which is from Chile. I also like Fat Bastard Cabernet Sauvignon. You may be able to find both at World Market.
posted by neushoorn at 10:16 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Our go-to tasty red is Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna, which we can usually find at Union Square Wines for less than $15 – we wait for their frequent 30%-off mixed-case sales and stock up.
posted by nicwolff at 10:26 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Maybe do a wine tasting somewhere to work out which grape varieties you tend to enjoy? Then you can buy a different bottle each week or so and decide on some favorites.

I generally like cabernet sauvignons.

Invest in a wine stopper with a pump to extend the life of open bottles.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 10:37 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've never been a big fan of red wine, but last winter I was having friends over for chili and on a whim (I liked the label and the name) I picked up a bottle of 14 Hands - Hot to Trot. Everyone loved it, including me!
posted by kbar1 at 10:44 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

My favorite inexpensive red wine is Mark West's pinot noir
posted by Avosunspin at 12:50 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't know if it still exists, but Moore Brothers used to do a mixed case that was a lot of fun for a wine novice (I'm one).
posted by sciencegeek at 2:49 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: it sounds like (quite understandably) you're worried that, because you don't know much about wine, you might pay too much, or otherwise make a "mistake".

to be honest, that's not very likely. it's a competitive market (so people that "cheat" get found out) and big business (so the "product" is actually pretty well controlled).

your biggest worry in practice is that if you "only" drink a glass a day, you are wasting money because wine deteriorates rapidly once open. that's why at least one person above has recommended wine from a box. however....

I usually don't like anything fruity or too sweet or kinda out-of-the-box taste

ok, so we need to unpack that. very roughly, there are three kinds of (red) wine (although it's similar for white too). in order, from lowest to highest price:
  1. cheap, young, sweet, and fruity (often in "simple" boxes);
  2. "normal" (in "plain" bottles or "bag" boxes);
  3. expensive, oaked, and smoother (often in bottles with "better produced" labels - for example, non-square, or with metallic printing).
my guess is that you're "out of the box taste" is referring to young, sweet, fruity wines, which you can sometimes find in "tetra pak" style boxes with a screw cap.

the reason i am explaining all this is because there's another kind of boxed wine that has a bag inside and a "tap" on the front. that generally contains "normal" (2) wine, so you may find it tastes fine (i say "may" because there are other variables too - it could still be sweeter, because it's aimed at a slightly different market segment...). and the big, big advantage is that the wine inside is in a "bag" that collapses as you drink the wine, keeping the air out (which stops it from deteriorating as quickly).

so what i would recommend is either the kind of "bag and tap" box i describe above, or wine in smaller bottles.

as for price - i would go as high as you suggest ($18) unless you really find that you appreciate the wine at that price. i would start lower. wine at $10 to $15 should be just fine, unless you like the style of wine i call (3) above (and i don't see any evidence of that in what you write).

however, smaller bottles are more expensive for the same amount of wine. so expect to pay roughly 30%-50% more, by volume, for smaller bottles (still, in my opinion, worth it the variation in quality from keeping wine a day or two is more than paying extra for "expensive" wine).
posted by andrewcooke at 3:22 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Personally. my everyday vin ordinaire is Cono Sur Merlot/Cabernet (Chilean). A 1.5 liter bottle (= 2 regular bottles) is about $13.50 Canadian, though sometimes it is a buck or so cheaper. South America has some swell wines. Try Argentinean Malbec, for instance, for a whole different kind of flavor. Learn a bit about the grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Malbec vs. Shiraz/Syrah vs. Tempranillo, the different grapes make hugely different wines. BUT, the place where the grapes are grown also make a huge difference. Rioja Tempranillo has some of the leathery flavor of Italian Primitivo, but other Spanish (and other places) Tempranillo is very different; Italian Primitivo is the same grape as the fruitier California Zinfandel, but they taste completely different. I guess what I am saying is, try a new bottle of something every once in a while. Take notes. This is not medicine, it's pleasure.
posted by CCBC at 4:44 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

The fave here is Las Rocas Garnacha. Price ranges from $8-15 a bottle. Here's a link for $10/bottle.
posted by Stewriffic at 5:47 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's a wine store in my town that sells 6 bottles of wine for $36. It's always a random mix of wines, and the bottles are discounted for their normal price. I like to buy the most random countries of origin that I can and have enjoyed a lot of Eastern European and South African wines that way. Instead of worrying that you might get the "wrong" wine, maybe you could make a game or quest of trying the most random ones you can find? After a couple years of sampling, I know within about 90% certainty if I'm going to really like a wine. I find that a Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon rarely goes wrong with my taste buds, but I like more fruity wines.
posted by Maarika at 6:03 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

(crap i said "would" and meant "wouldn't [go as high]". sorry.)
posted by andrewcooke at 6:19 AM on August 7, 2015

Your price point is fine. You live in NYC so you don't need some clubs or to buy online or Costco. Go to a good wine store and tell them you want a mixed case that averages out at 15 a bottle. Drink the case. Take not of the bottles you like best on the first and second days. Go back to the store and tell them and ask for a case of wines like that. There is a quality wine store in basically every neighborhood in town.
posted by JPD at 6:27 AM on August 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

And a lot of quality red wines will last 2-3 days open without deteriorating in quality.
posted by JPD at 6:29 AM on August 7, 2015

Honestly I'm a big fan of the Trader Joe's boxed Shiraz (in the brown cardboard box with the tap). Is it the best wine in the world? No, no it is not. But it tastes pretty good to me. It's a perfectly fine table wine. And since I am the only wine-drinker in my house, and I don't drink wine every day, I can drink it over the course of a month and it stays fresh compared to a bottled wine (I can and will finish a bottle of red wine in two-three days, but I don't like to do it as a habit).

Every wine store in my area has at least one tasting a week - if you want to cultivate a better knowledge of wine start going to a few of those and buy a bottle of whatever you like best that's in your price range. But if you just want something to have with dinner, TJ's box red is not terrible.
posted by mskyle at 6:30 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

When I saw your price range, my first thought was Willamette Valley pinot noirs. They're much lighted than cabernets and so far every Oregon pinot in that price range I've tried has been very agreeable. Some of my favorites have come from Trader Joe's, but any liquor or wine store would probably have at least one available.
posted by DrGail at 6:39 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

In new York city at that price point the best bang for your buck is going to be european. Anything a chain store is selling is by definition going to be an industrial product.
posted by JPD at 7:15 AM on August 7, 2015

You might enjoy Club W! It's a wine delivery/subscription service (though you can easily skip any month).

You take a quiz so that they can work out what kinds of flavours you like, and then send you your selected number of wines once a month! The wines come with info cards so that you can learn about flavours, too. It's well within your budget. As a wine newbie, I like trying out the various recommended wines without having had to work through the choices myself -- opening the box is a fun surprise every time.
posted by Pwoink at 7:18 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ah, I suppose I should have included the invite link that gets you (and me) credit for a free bottle: Club W!
posted by Pwoink at 7:24 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

This may be a slight aside, but nevertheless, whilst having a glass of wine in the evening is a nice thing to do, but I wouldn't read too much into the health benefits of it either way. Essentially, if you plot a graph of life expectancy against alcohol consumption you find that life expectancy is lower for people who don’t drink, and then there is a higher plateau for moderate drinkers before life expectancy starts decreasing in the heavy drinker range. It’s from this kind of plot that people have decided that drinking moderately is healthy. However, the direction of the casual relation isn’t so clear: teetotallers may not drink for a number of reasons including the interaction of alcohol with pharmaceuticals, a history of substance abuse etc. which could explain the decreased life expectancy.

On that basis, I wouldn’t feel compelled to drink a glass of wine a night for health reasons. On the other hand, I wouldn’t worry about having a glass of wine a night either, so if you feel like it, go ahead and follow some of the suggestions above.
posted by Ned G at 7:38 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I definitely suggest you look into the better quality boxed wines like andrewcooke suggests. Especially if you are going to consume wine in small quantities. It will be very difficult to give you good advice for very specific wines since everyone's palates are distinctive and the spectrum of wine flavors are extremely broad. At your suggested price point (and even below) you will find tons of things that you will like.

As for broad suggestions, check out a better quality boxed wine. Keep in mind that these boxes contain 3 to 4 times as much wine as a standard 750ml bottle so your actual price per bottle is going to end up in the $5-$7 range. That coupled with the fact that this wine will keep for a month opened is a great bargain. If you like to cook, this can be a good reason to research recipes that are enhanced by small quantities of wine.

My second suggestion is to seek out local wine tastings. Even better if you can find one at a small shop with a skilled and passionate owner. For often less than a price of a single glass of wine at a fancy restaurant you will get to sample 4, 5 maybe 6 excellent wines of different types. This will help you get a sense of what you like and don't like in wine. Using that knowledge you can work with the wine store to help you pick out things. I'm going to one such tasting tonight and if you were at this store and came in and said you liked wines like X and didn't like wines like Y and you wanted to spend $10-$15/bottles, they would have tons of choices for you. They would also love to do this work with you. Small proprietor wine shops like this love to help people learn to love wine. You'd be making their day.
posted by mmascolino at 8:43 AM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Apothic was all the rage a few years back. I always found it to be easy to drink without worrying too much about fussiness.
posted by grateful at 10:14 AM on August 7, 2015

Go to a good wine store and tell them you want a mixed case that averages out at 15 a bottle. Drink the case. Take not of the bottles you like best on the first and second days. Go back to the store and tell them and ask for a case of wines like that. There is a quality wine store in basically every neighborhood in town.

Yes. Find a recommendation for a wine store nearby. Go and tell someone there what you wrote. In general, people who work in good stores love to help. In the (very unlikely) case that you find people at that store dismissive or snobby, go to another store. You can then stick with a wine you like or go back and tell them what you liked, and they can recommend something similar.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:00 AM on August 7, 2015

Reverse Wine Snob reviews wine in your price range. I've had pretty good trying the (red) wines they recommend. Don't automatically discount red blends; there are some good ones.

Seconding getting a wine pump. A Wine Saver will set you back $10, which pays for itself quickly by keeping wine drinkable for 2-3 more days.
posted by dws at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Two words that have always stood me (a wine idiot) in good stead: Spanish Reds.
posted by Chitownfats at 1:09 PM on August 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm a big fan of $10 red blends; not sure NY Costcos have similar stock to WA, but my current favorite is from Pendulum Winery. I'm constantly impressed with Costco's Kirkland Signature label varietals too; their Carneros Pinot Noir is decent, and their Mendoza (Argentina) malbec is EXCELLENT for $18.
posted by sapere aude at 1:18 PM on August 7, 2015

I have very expensive taste, but out of necessity a pauper's budget. My large-format value go-to: 1.5L bottle of Frontera's Shiraz. Well, the Shiraz is my preference, anyway, but their Malbecs, Pinot Noirs, Merlots etc have all been top notch for the price range and you really can't beat the price. I know you're in NYC; here, outside DC, I can find the 1.5L for $9-11 just about anywhere and even under $8 (like, $7.49!) if I get it at Costco. That's 2 regular size bottles worth of wine for less than $4 each.

And yes, Chitownfats is right: Spanish Reds. If not Spanish Reds, Argentine Reds and Chilean Reds will do, as well. Sometimes your Portuguese Reds (my current fave) can be found for under $20 or even $15. Those are your value reds, right there. I've had about 80% success with them. That's a pretty good success rate for wines under $20.
posted by nightrecordings at 5:56 PM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am wondering how many boxed wines you've actually tried before writing them all off? I'm perfectly content with Franzia's Merlot.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:29 PM on August 8, 2015

If you're drinking for health reasons, cold climate pinot noirs are reportedly the wines highest in resveratrol.
posted by travellingincognito at 10:23 PM on August 8, 2015

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