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.


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!



10 Wines Under 10 Dollars – White Wine Edition

It finally happened. I got stopped by someone on the street. And they took me to task for not reviewing white wines.

It’s not that I don’t drink whites. It’s not that I don’t like whites.

It’s just that I tend toward reds – I almost always have – and that’s just the nature of the beast.

But wait…haven’t I said you should expand your palate? YES. And haven’t I done a ton of tastings over the past several months – ones where other people voted with their pocketbooks on the best white wines? YES.

So, it’s time for…

10 Wines Under 10 Dollars – White Wine Edition

Ground rules: These wines are ones that can be found in stores in Illinois – my home base – so you may not have them in your state. Price, also, may vary – some of them were way under $10, others are on the edge (and, as you know, once something gets popular at $7, it disappears, then returns at $9).

You’re not going to get the more in-depth reviews that you get elsewhere on this site – the point of this post is to be as simple as possible and give you 10 wines that won’t break your piggy bank.

Here goes. (These are in no particular order, by the way…so, Number 1 is just the first one on the list.)

1. Sequin Pinot Grigio

Sequin Pinot Grigio The same person who asked why I don’t review any white wines asked specifically about Pinot Grigio. It’s a much-maligned grape, IMHO, because of Santa Margherita. (I’m not a big fan.)

These folks, though, champion the “Delicately Bubbled” version of Pinot Grigio. Good for them – and you. It’s pretty festive, if you’re looking for a festive white.

Expect to pay: About $9.

N.B. This stays in the white wine category – in spite of the bubbles. We’ll have the “10 Wines Under 10 Dollars – Sparkling Wine Edition” in early August.

2. Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand Wines

Photo from jambox998 on Flickr, used with Creative Commons license

“This stands up to Kim Crawford. And it’s under $10.”

Kim Crawford does good stuff, and the random comment above from someone in the Dominick’s wine aisle was good enough for us. Nobilo is a name that’s been around for awhile – and there’s a golf commentator with the same name.

Expect to pay $8 or less.

3. Alamos Torrontes

Alamos TorrontesWe reviewed this a couple weeks ago and it scored quite well. (Read the Alamos Torrontes review here.)

It is one of those wines that might change how you think about white wine. (They make other stuff, too – here’s a link to the Alamos web site.)

Expect to Pay around $9.

4. Coppola Diamond Collection Chardonnay

Coppola Diamond Collection ChardonnayOne of the things Francis Ford Coppola did well? Buy the old Inglenook estate, get into wine.

His Chardonnays are always a good value, and inexpensive.

Expect to pay $8-$10.

5. 120 Sauvignon Blanc

120 Sauvignon Blanc“Honoring 120 Patriots who helped lead Chile to Independence.”


Expect to pay under $7. (!)

6. Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc

Joel Gott Sauvignon BlancOne of the best – and most alliterative names – in wine, pretty much any year Joel puts his name on will be a winner.

For the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, expect to pay right under $10.

7. Menage a Trois Pinot Grigio

Menage a Trois Pinot GrigioThey make the unavoidable red – wherever you go in search of wine, there’s the Menage a Trois red blend. (And it’s almost always $7-$8.)

Here, then their Pinot Grigio. A little more expensive than the red blend.

Expect to pay $9-$10.

8. Naked Grape Pinot Grigio

Naked Grape Pinot GrigioWhy not stay with the Pinot (Grigio)? Naked Grape is, well, a “supermarket wine” – at least, from my perch, you’ll have no problem finding their work at your local supermarket.

Expect to pay $6-ish.

9. Flip Flop Riesling

Flip Flop RieslingAnother one of the semi-ubiquitous brands you’ll find at your local supermarket. Advantage to Flip Flop and number 8 above – if you’ve not tried them, you’re only out a few bucks to expand your palate.

Expect to pay $5-$6; we have seen it under $5.

10. Los Hermanos Moscato

Los Hermanos Vineyards MoscatoThis one might set you back close to the $10 mark – but Beringer’s own label that honors the name of the original 215-acre tract where the Beringer brothers set up shop in 1876. It’s also a nod to the rich Hispanic heritage of California’s Wine Country.

Expect to pay right around $10.

So there you go: 10 Wines Under 10 Dollars – White Wine Edition

Coming soon, Red Wine Edition and Sparkling Wine Edition.

Until then, we’d love to know in the comments what you think – if you’ve tried any of these, if you think we’re out of whack, or if you want us to add some for future lists.