Red wines under $20 are easy to find, but sorting out some of the best from the rest can be tricky business. From a California Zin-based blend running at $9, to Malbec, Tempranillo, Chianti, Pinot Noir and Shiraz from South Africa– we’ve scouted far and wide to bring the best red wine finds under $20 to a glass near you!
This 2014 Rioja red from Campo Viejo rolls with a heady combination of fresh red fruit bringing black cherry and ripe plum to the forefront, balanced by some delicious spice appeal (largely in the form of vanilla and allspice). This wine promises to engage your senses from the get go. The palate shows well integrated fruit character with a medium-body, super supple tannins, and genuine balance. Easy to love for its food-friendly versatility (think Tapas, Manchego cheese, and even burgers, brats or meat lover’s pizza), it’s also one of those reds that doesn’t demand food and can be fully enjoyed sans munchies.
Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2014 (Argentina) $16
This tasty Argentinean ambassador spotlights the country’s iconic Malbec grape in a well-made, well-priced, ready to roll dry red wine. Bold, intense blackberry and blueberry fruit components dominate the nose with serious spice, mocha and cedar notes coming through loud and clear. The 2014 delivers both balance and a hearty welcome to one of the best Malbecs made in the under $20 wine scene. Remarkable when paired with steak, beef stew or grilled game – a true meat lover’s wine, the Kaiken Malbec is made under the watchful eye of Chilean winemaker Aurelio Montes, the head of Montes wines on the other side of the Andes.
Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2014 (California) $18
Hailing from the cool coastal climate of Sonoma, this 100% Pinot Noir cuvee shows remarkable flavor and an engaging profile. Expect plenty of red cherry, raspberry, and a smidge of strawberry along with subtle oak-influenced spice to show up front and center. Lively, food-friendly acidity promises to keep things fresh, while supple tannins, and a medium body carry considerable palate appeal. If you are looking for well-priced Pinot Noir (a novel concept in itself), then this bottle is a winner.
Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2012 (Italy) $20
Pushing the upper end of the $20 limit, this well-rated, foodie-adored Chianti Classico Riserva is worth the extra $5. A stunning introduction to Italy’s Tuscan red wines, first impressions reveal an unmistakable, aromatic intensity that shines a bold spotlight on dried herbs, crushed violets and dark dense fruit. The palate profile keeps the fruit themes humming, but shifts the focus to the structure where firm tannins, bright acidity and a rich, round mouthfeel carry towards an enduring, spice-filled finish. This wine is an extrovert – eager to tell its tale and make magical associations with all kinds of Italian fare, from tomato-based themes to boards of charcuterie and cheese.
Looking to bring some power and value to the wallet-wise Cabernet competition, Haras de Pirque in Chile’s Upper Maipo Valley, where they specialize in raising thoroughbred racehorses alongside top notch vines, busts out some serious bang for the Cab Sauv buck.
This may well be one of the best Cabs I’ve tasted in the last six months in the under $20 price tier. Showing off innate black fruit character leaning heavily into blackberry, black currant and plum alongside almost eucalyptus-like aromas and tossing up some pretty oak influence in the form of cedar and vanilla. Expect a medium-body with well managed tannins, and a surprising pitch to the finish. At $10 a bottle, this is an outstanding value all the way around!
Chateau Baret 2010 (France) $15
A tasty Bordeaux blend from Bordeaux’s Pessac-Leognan, comprised of close to a 50/50 blend of Merlot to Cabernet Sauvignon, with a splash (3%) of Cabernet Franc making its way into the mix, the Chateau Baret rolls out the wallet-wise welcome mat as an exceptionally well-priced Bordeaux blend. Gorgeous aromatics feature black cherry nuances with understated earth-driven character lingering in the background. This is a fresh-faced, medium-bodied blend showing exceptionally integrity and leaning in with forward fruit wrapped in vanilla lace. A favorite from the Bordeaux value bin, consider pairing with all kinds or roasted poultry, pork, or beef.
A sweeter-styled red wine with the juicy, jammy flavors of crushed blackberries, strawberries and raspberries swirled with chocolatey undertones from South Africa. This is an easy to like red wine with definite dessert-leanings. Serve well chilled to bring out the fresh aromas and fruit-forward flavors. Delish with German chocolate cake!
Garnacha, a popular red wine blending grape, has built a solid wine reputation for delivering plush, red berry aromas to the glass. Sourced from 80-100 year old vines, the 2014 Ateca rides high with characteristic ripe berry influences both on the nose and the palate. A medium body carries subtle tannin, forward fruit and warm baking spice. A stellar value from a progressive producer-importer partnership that brings grapes in from Spain’s Calatayud wine region tucked into the northeast corner of the country.
Apothic Red 2014 (CA) $10 An easy-going, smooth and supple red wine blend based on the fruit-forward flavors of Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, the Apothic red wine packs plenty of ripe jammy fruit onto the palate with a soft approach and subtle structure. When you need to grab a red wine blend under $10, the Apothic Red doesn’t disappoint.
Bogle’s Essential Red brings a peppy red wine blend based heavily on the ripe, concentrated dark fruit character of old vine Zinfandel grapes. Syrah, Cab, and Petite Sirah round out the grape blend and add layers of plum, cherry, and raspberry to the ultra pleasant palate profile, while vanilla and cinnamon spice play in the background. Expect a medium-body, moderate alcohol levels at 13.5%, and spot-on pricing. This is an easy go-to red that wins friends and influences market trends in the sub $10 wine pricing category.
Urge to Splurge?
Check out Spain’s Reservas from Rioja (12-24 months in oak and 36 months total aging before release) and Gran Reservas (only made in the very best years and required to maintain a minimum of 24 months in oak and age a total of 5 years before release). Spain’s Reservas are reasonably priced in the under $30 category and Gran Reservas, with a full five years of aging can be found in the $40-50 range. Or consider Napa’s Shafer, Caymus, and the always dressed-to-impress Robert Mondavi Reserve line from Napa.