10 Underrated Cheap Red Wines

Realizing we have a decent history of drinking (er, “tasting”) here at Metasip World HQ, we thought we’d look back into the vault and figure out the 10 Best in the Red Category.

Cheap Red WinesLet’s be honest here: the world of the internet adores lists. We’re not alone, as we have to admit to having tried the “Listicle” thing recently (see: Metakitchen) and not-so-recently (see: 10 White Wines). In fact, it was that very post on White Wines that reminded us…we promised everyone a list of 10 Red Wines. Darnit! We’re slow to the draw, or we got busy doing other stuff, or we decided to give up drinking alcohol for Lent. Alas, we’re back, with the “better late than never” listicle: 10 Underrated Cheap Red Wines.

Define: “Underrated…”

By “underrated,” we mean just that. It’s also a subjective term, so feel free to argue with us on whether or not the wine we’re talking about qualifies – if you’ve never seen it rated anywhere, is it REALLY underrated? And if we say it’s an “A-” or “B+,” does that mean that you’ll think we’ve rated it highly in comparison to other wines, and thus when you try it you’ll say it’s “overrated?”

Work with us here…we’re going to go with “wines that we’ve found that have scored a B+ or better rating…and fit with the definition of “cheap.”

Define: “Cheap…”

I don’t know…under $10? Under $20? This is also subjective. But, from our days slinging wine at Costco, we can tell you that we’ve had some people tell us their threshold for quality IS $10! Yes, they won’t pay LESS than $10, even if the wine is outstanding at $9.99.

Our view – as you may have guessed from our trips to places like Aldi and Trader Joe’s – is actually different. We’re willing to pay more than $10, sure, but we’ve found that both our palate and our budget can do just fine at $5 sometimes.

So here we go: it’s our list, and, well, if you disagree with the ten…let us know.

10 Underrated Cheap Wines

1. Here’s one from Aldi, and Australia

Lil Koala ShirazWe have to admit that this is one of those wine reviews we did that we didn’t realize would take off like (virtual) (non-viral) wildfire. Why? Bloomberg picked it up. (This was awhile back, and our searching skills aren’t what they used to. We found a really good article on the site from right around that time, on the differences between the Aussie dollar and the US dollar, and why that means good wine coming here: Bloomberg Article.)

Here’s that glorious article on Lil’ Koala.

You might end up sensing a theme here: we love the wine values you find at Aldi. But it’s not the only place you can get underrated cheap wine.

2. A surprise from Walmart

Oak Leaf Metasip

This one really fits the “cheap” category: Three Bucks!

Part of a video review series:

Walmart! (Note that the photo is a Cabernet; the video review is of a Merlot. We’ve generally had good luck with the Oak Leaf label.)

3. An Italian Masterpiece?

Masterpiece might be a little much. But this is a Monetpulciano D’Abruzzo, and it’s from Aldi. We reviewed this one in video format:

Aldi’s cousin, or sibling, or…well, you’ve heard various themes on the story about Trader Joe’s but they strike with item 4:

4. Charles Shaw!

Charles ShawWe’ve heard different things about good old Chuck. Some of the grapes are really solid in Charles Shaw sub-three-dollar format. Others are a little more meh. (This one, incidentally, only got an overall grade of “B” from this reviewer; as we compared it to other sub-$4 reds and found the value to not be there in comparison. But it still was a more-than-serviceable Shiraz.)

This one? Pretty good. Shiraz. We’d say “go with it.”

[BREAK TIME! Or, more accurately, ADVERTISEMENT: At the Plonk Wine Club, we do the picking and you do the drinking! We do all the work so that you don’t have to. ]

5. La Finca Tempranillo from…

La Finca TempranilloYah, you hear Tempranillo and you think “Spain.” Then you see that it’s actually from Mendoza in Argentina and you think…really?

We liked this one, as you can see at the original blog post.

6. Yet Another Red from Aldi…

Flirty Bird 2012 Syrah

We’ve had some REALLY good luck with Aldi wines, as you have likely figured from watching this site over the past couple years. This red, though…Flirty Bird. Falls into the “great price” category. And the “great everything else” category. Got an A from this reviewer.

7. Portugal in the House

Monte Velho 2011 Red Blend

Monte Velho 2011 Red Blend

All right, this one is close to the edge: $10 or so. Still, it’s the bomb. It’s Monte Velho 2011 Red Wine. We gave it a grade of A-, and that we equates to about a 90 or 91 on the 100-point scale. Well, well worth the money.

8. Aldi…AGAIN? REALLY?

Grate Red Toscana Rosso

Yeah, this one – Grate Red Toscana Rosso – scored a B+. But you need to find it – we haven’t seen it in awhile. “Perfect for anything grilled” according to the label, so MAYBE we’ll see it again soon.

9. Winking Owl Shiraz

The Winking Owl Shiraz is one of the first Aldi wines we tried for the site. And it, too, got a B+. (Sorry, photo not available. Blame the hackers.)

10. Finally, a wine that only got a “B” but…

Vina Decana 2009 Tempranillo

Vina Decana Tempranillo. When we first rated this one, we said it could very well be a house wine for years to come. And, if you haven’t experimented with Tempranillo yet, this is a good one to experiment with.

And, there you have it. Our listicle. For you.

10 Underrated Cheap Red Wines

Let us know in the comments if you agree with any of these choices, or want to suggest your own!

 

 

Cruz de Piedra 2011 Garnacha

Challenge: Spanish Red Wine with Italian Food.

Cruz de Piedra

Red Wine from Spain

Specifics of the challenge:

Well, I buy a decent amount of wine. (You should expect that, what with me running a wine, beer, and spirits review site. Right?)

Sometimes, I’ll pick something up specifically for a certain thing – a meal, or an event.

Other times, I grab something because the price is right…then I leave it in the cellar (which is a corner of my basement that’s dry and stays a pretty constant temperature all year) and wait for the right occasion.

Yesterday – the right occasion was lasagna that needed wine. And all I had were Spanish Reds. So this was the winner…but is it something you should check out?

To the review: Cruz de Piedra 2011 Garnacha.

Cruz de Piedra 2011 Garnacha Review

I’ll admit to forgetting what I spent on this wine – only vaguely remembering that I likely picked it up for less than $10 somewhere. (So I’m writing the review before Googling this wine and figuring out the price.)

Garnacha is the exact same thing as Grenache. Wikipedia says so!

Seriously, in France, a good chunk of the Southern Rhone Wines are Grenache. In Calatayud, where this particular wine is from, half the wine is Garnacha.

Taste

First round of tasting, the nose was very fruity – but the wine itself wasn’t overly so. It DEFINITELY needed a “long decant” – second round (hours later) yielded more fruit on the palate, with some black pepper, too. Blackberry and black cherry flavors are the winners, yet, on the “semi-dry” to “dry” spectrum, put this one over on the dry side.

Interestingly – and not totally what this palate experienced – the website for the folks behind these wines, Axial Wines, says Cruz de Piedra is known for “authentic Garnacha fruit flavors.” So we won’t totally argue – but it was still rather dry to us.

I’m imagining this wine as an easy-peasy pour with any tapas.

Or lasagna, which isn’t tapas.

Profile

This is a 2011 Garnacha, and it’s from Calatayud – one of Spain’s “DOs” (Denominacion de Origen). (You can learn more about the wines of Spain here: Wines From Spain.)

Value

Time to get to Googling…

Wine Searcher tells us we should expect to pay around $8. And, a check of the receipts shows us spending $6.97 at Costco. Score one for the value shopper!

Metasip Grade: B

This will not knock your socks off – but it won’t disappoint you, either. I think it’s a great value – if $7-$8 works for your “house red wine,” then you could do a lot worse.