The Best Wines for Under Ten Dollars
For those who don’t have much experience with wine, the idea of being responsible for a wine to go with a specially prepared meal can be almost panic-inducing: everyone knows good wine is incredibly difficult to select and good wine is expensive. If a dinner guest has been told by the host or hostess to bring along a bottle of wine for everyone to share, the pressure is on and for a wine beginner or novice, selecting the wine can become a painful experience.
This does not necessarily have to be the case. In this article we will show how a person with a small budget and no wine experience whatsoever will be able to select a wine that will be able to accomplish something almost miraculous: please both the wine experts and new wine drinkers at the same time and not break the bank. We will highlight the top three wines which never fail to impress, and we will also show how to select a good, inexpensive wine with confidence if one cannot find one of our three wines at his or her local wine shop. First however, come our favourite three wines which are all under ten dollars, but taste like wines that could easily cost in the $25-$35 range.
Red Wine: Torres Sangre de Toro
Grape Varietal: Garnacha and Cariñena blend
Price Range: $9-$11 depending on shop location
Sangre de Toro, a blended red wine from Spain could easily be our favourite red wine; the fact that it’s inexpensive actually has nothing to do with it. What makes this wine so great is that it is consistent year after year, making it an almost fool-proof choice as a wine to present to guests. Sangre de Toro has a dark ruby color, is leggy, balanced, lush from oak, and is medium bodied, supple, and most importantly, is smooth with no hint of the sourness that some cheap wines present. Furthermore, it doesn’t have the bizarre, heavy, almost sweet clove flavour that other inexpensive red wines seem to have. The wine has some bright raspberry and cherry notes at the end, but what makes this wine stand out from the rest of the pack is the little punch of peppery spice that one feels after swallowing a sip, making this wine great to drink by itself or as an accompaniment to any type of food. Sangre de Toro is a great all-rounder and is easy to recognize at the shop: it’s the bottle which proudly has a little plastic black bull attached to the cap.
Red Wine: Jose Maria da Fonseca Periquita
Grape Varietal: Castelão (75%), Trinadeira (15%), and Aragonez (10%)
Price Range: $8-$10 depending on shop location
Periquita is one of Portugal’s most famous exports; having been in production since 1850, it is highly regarded as a very good product from Fonseca’s line. While at first price was what got our attention several years ago, we now select this wine simply because it’s good, even though we can afford more expensive wines. Periquita has a lovely deep ruby hue and smells divine with aromas of figs, plums, raspberries and interestingly, blackberries. This wine is fruity without being sweet, isn’t too light tasting or too heavy tasting, and finds the perfect balance providing a long, smooth finish. Periquita is terrific to drink on its own, but is especially good when paired with cured cheeses, turkey, and can very easily hold up to and enhance a meal when red meat is served.
White Wine: Casal Garcia Vinho Verde
Grape Varietal: Trajadura, loureiro, arinto, azal
Price Range: $9-$10, depending on shop location
Inexpensive, reminiscent of summer and bright, Casal Garcia Vinho Verde (translates literally to “green wine”) is one of the very few wines that makes it into serious wine critics “top ten wines under fifty dollars” lists year after year. Even the biggest wine snobs will break into happy smiles when they hear Casal Garcia will be served; it’s another wine that most have tried when their budgets were microscopic but continue to drink because it’s great. Making Vinho Verde unique is that although it is not a sparkling wine, it has a refreshing “pop” to it which makes it an ideal wine to bring along to the beach or pool party or anywhere it’s hot. While technically not a complicated wine, it has a clean, lemon-lime aroma and has a bit of fizz with a citrus flavour that can brighten anyone’s day. Best of all, due to its relative simplicity, it’s easy to pair with food with some saying it is the best wine to serve with sushi or fresh, cold dishes.
Selecting a wine when our selections are not available
The problem with many suggested Top Ten wine lists is that whether they are expensive or cheap, the recommended wines may not be available. Here’s what to look for if our three wines are not available at your local wine shop.
First of all, keep in mind the food that you will be eating. If your meal will be a heavy, buttery or creamy dish, select a Chardonnay white wine. Chardonnay means the name of the grape that was used to make the wine; different grapes have different characteristics, and chardonnay tends to go well with buttery, cheesy or creamy meals.
If you will be eating something spicy, then select a Gewurztraminer white wine which is a little bit sweet.
If eating red meat, a heavier wine will be good, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon red wine, a Malbec red wine, or a Merlot red wine.
If eating fish or seafood, a crowd-pleasing choice will be a Rosé wine, which is pink in color and a little bit sweeter than red or white wines but not as sweet as a Gewurztraminer white.
After selecting the type of wine, select the country of production. Good wine producing countries are France, Spain, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Italy and South Africa, while Germany produces the best Gewurztraminer wines. All of these wine producing countries have great selections available for under $15 and to get the best value for money, don’t be afraid to ask the shop employee for help choosing.