The only thing better than a nice bottle of red is a nice bottle of cheap red. Sure, there are occasions for a $50 or $100 jug of vino—engagement, promotion, fantasy football dominance—but in most cases you don’t need to dole out serious dough to get something decent. Since navigating the rows and rows of similar-looking labels at the local food store can be overwhelming, we’ve done the searching for you and found 10 red wines for under $15 that offer both value and taste. Drink up, save up and enjoy:
1. Lange Twins Merlot ($13)
If you’re a Merlot man—despite what Sideways says—this blackberry-filled beauty is your best bet. Sustainably made on a family farm in up-and-coming Lodi, California, the wine is bursting with berry and has subtle hints of cocoa. A satisfying, peppery finish sticks around for a bit so this one’s great for slow sipping. Pair this vino with some Spaghetti Bolognese to impress your pals with your palate.
2. Mark West Pinot Noir ($10-12)
Finding a decent, bargain-priced bottle of Pinot Noir can be tough, but the people at Mark West have focused on the feat for years. Their dedication to making a “pinot for the people” has led to a wine that’s definitely worth its price. Fragrant, light and easy to drink, with tastes of cherry and vanilla, this red is just fine on it’s own or pairs well with some barbeque chicken.
3. Rosemount Shiraz Diamond ($8-12)
An Australian wine that’s way better than the slightly cheaper Yellow Tail, this bottle’s well-balanced and not overly sweet, a problem with some Shiraz. A bit on the heavy side, Rosemount’s version is jammy with dark chocolate flavors. Take down a bottle of this well-priced red with hearty fare like meatloaf.
4. LAN Rioja Crianza ($12)
Earthy, deep and damn good, this Spanish wine should be savored with an especially special chick. You’ll taste some dried fruit and a little herb, making this a good wine to pair with pasta or poultry. Wine Spectator gave LAN Rioja Cianza a 90 point rating—not too shabby for a bottle that costs less than a cocktail at most swanky city bars.
5. Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico ($13-15)
Ruby red in color and lively in taste, this is just one of the great Chiantis made by Ruffino. Best enjoyed with lasagna or a peppery chicken dish, this bottle is smooth and fruity, with a trace of tobacco in the finish. If you like Tuscan wines—or are pretending to like them to dazzle a dame—this is a solid, satisfying choice.
6. Ravenswood Vinter's Blend Cabernet Sauvignon ($11-12)
Some Cabs can be exceedingly bitter or dry but this affordable bottle has a nice balance with refreshing tastes of blackberry and black currant. Wine pros recommend the 2005 vintage, but you really can’t go wrong with any year if you’re looking for a light red that can still hold up to meaty meals.
7. Dancing Bull Cabernet Sauvignon ($9-11)
If you’re looking for heavier, spicier Cabernet that’s affordable, Dancing Bull is a practical pick. Rich and lush, with tons of dark berry flavor, this wine tastes best with grilled steaks, burgers and essentially anything you can toss on the grill.
8. Finca El Portillo Malbec ($9-11)
An Argentinean wine that’s subtler than some Malbecs, this bottle is bursting with red fruit, chocolate and a tad of earthy spice. Included on Wine and Spirits “Top 100 Values” list, both the wine novice and established drinker will appreciate the soft tannins that make this an easy-to-drink wine that works well with beef stew, chili and meat tacos.
9. 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel ($9-11)
A perennial favorite from Michael David Vineyards, this rich, jammy wine is super easy to find. Featuring grapes from seven different vineyards in California’s Central Valley, there are a ton of flavors in this Zin: blueberry, cinnamon, pepper and plum pack the palate from sip to swallow. While some cleverly named wines are just a marketing ploy, this wine follows through on taste.
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10. DeLoach Pinot Noir ($12-13)
Light-bodied but flavorful, this Russian River red is clean and simple. Black cherries and medium tannins make for a smooth, toasty finish. Since this wine’s not super bold, it’s a nice red to pair with lighter entrees, like fish or salad. One of the most popular Pinots in the price range, most major wine stores will carry this brand.