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!

 

 

La Finca 2013 Tempranillo

Trader Joe’s strikes with this big, bold red.

La Finca TempranilloHere’s one of those times where I’m almost certain I’ve had something before – and I had to search my own site to find out whether or not that’s true. (Answer: False; I have not had this wine before.) La Finca 2013 Tempranillo has everything you want in a Spanish Tempranillo.

Except it’s from Argentina.

La Finca 2013 Tempranillo Review

Had a long chat with my local Trader Joe’s wine guy and I have no doubt that their wine buyers know what they’re doing. (And you can expect a few more reviews on this site thanks to their recommendations.)

Taste

Fruit: plum, blackberry. Solid, everyday-drinking red wine.

Profile

13% Alcohol. “Oak Aged.”

Value

Under $5 if memory serves.

Metasip Grade: B+

So this falls into the “everyday” category – but it’s also a “tweener.” You could spend more and get something that drinks a lot more expensively. You could spend less and get something just as good – in fact, some of the Charles Shaw stuff (see our recent review) is probably a better value in the grand scheme.

Why spend $5 when you can spend $3 on the same thing? Or, why spend $5 when you can spend $8 and have something three times as good?

It’s a conundrum – and this wine probably gets left off our “buy it again” list.

Vina Decana 2009 Tempranillo

It’s getting harder and harder to hide my love for Aldi wines. So I tried another one – and, Aldi Corporate People, I’ll keep reviewing them if you want to send them to me. Please.

Vina Decana 2009 TempranilloI heart the Tempranillo grape. But, if you didn’t know, I tend to be more partial to the off-the-beaten-path grapes like Temp, Montepulciano, Carmenere, and Malbec (which isn’t so out there anymore).

It’s very Spanish – in fact, it might be the quintessence of Spanish wine. (Moreso, IMHO, than Garnacha.) So much so that the last time we all went out for tapas, that was the grape. And the time before that, and the time before that.

I know people for whom the Vina Deana 2009 Tempranillo is indeed the house red. Should it be for you? Read the review and rock on!

Vina Decana 2009 Tempranillo Review

This is from Aldi.

I have to get that out there – and you can read all about quite a few other Aldi wines here on the Metasip site.

But one reason I have to say that up front is because some people will never try a wine because it’s from Aldi, and others will never try a wine because it’s under $5.

As the 12-year-old in this house would say…”Pish posh to you, sir.”

We found this for under $5 and liked what it did. “Full bodied.” At least if you believe the label. Opened up after a few minutes, and the second glass was better than the first.

Taste

It’s got a great nose, but not one that will burn your nostrils. Powerful, but not overpowering. Peppery. Some fruit – black cherry mostly – and stands up to food. (Served with…uh…Sloppy Joes and oven-fried potatoes. Don’t judge.)

I wouldn’t call it crazy-tannic, but there were some tannins.

Profile

This is a 2009 Tempranillo. Utiel Requena, Crianza – it’s got the official Spanish wine seal on it, so Aldi doesn’t mess around. ABV of 12.5% – yes, that seems like a low number in comparison to some of the more powerful reds out there.

Value

Until I’m named the official wine critic of Aldi stores, I’m just going to keep banging the drum on the value you’ll get from just about everything in the store. We did not pay $5 for this, and it’s a great wine for the money.

It’s probably worth $10 or more a bottle.

Metasip Grade: B

Can’t go to B+ here, but that’s okay – the equivalent of an 85-point wine on other scales, but for less than $5? This could very well be your house wine for years to come.

Don Simon Seleccion Tempranillo

Don Simon Seleccion TempranilloThe bottle says – on the back – that Tempranillo is “the perfect everyday wine to drink with pizza, burgers and fried foods.”

AND, we think, if you’re shopping at Whole Foods, where we found this wine, you can do a lot worse than (if memory serves) $6 a bottle.

To the review…

Taste:

We should probably post a picture of the back of the bottle, right?

That part where they tell you what it tastes like, and then you can ask yourself whether or not it’s spot on?

Don Simon Seleccion Tempranillo Back Label

We tasted the “ripe strawberry and cherry flavors.” We also got a little peppery spice nose. And, while drinking it, we tried NOT to think “hey, this didn’t cost too much.” Because it didn’t taste like it was a six-dollar bottle.

Profile:

100% Tempranillo. As is usual with these guys, no clue what year. That’s okay – I think it’s supposed to be table wine.

Value:

Solid value – actually, if you’re heading out for a BYOB meal somewhere, this is a really good choice.

Metasip Grade: B

Now – a little something about the grading scale here. We’ll talk more about it down the road, but just because something is a “B” doesn’t make it bad. And if it’s not a “B+” that doesn’t mean it’s subpar. And so on…

Remember back in school, the typical US grading scale? 100 is not just an A, it’s an A+. 90 is an A-, 89 is a B+. I’m sure we could come up with an infographic to explain our ratings and whatnot, but we’d rather just tell you whether or not it’s worth your time (and money).

As this site evolves – and ratings evolve – we’re sure you’ll take exception to what we have to say. AND THAT’S THE POINT. Tell us what you think…or tell us about other wines, beers, and spirits you’ve tried. We’d LOVE to hear from you!