Dependable Wines, Part Two


Last week, we looked at a group of ubiquitous white wines. All of these wines were under fifteen dollars. Some of them were under ten dollars. But what about the reds? Research bodies such as California Poytechnic University and the American Association of Wine Economics have reported data demonstrating a consumer preference for red wine over white. It stands to reason that we should also offer you a selection of reds that will be easy to find at local retail outlets. Perhaps this list from the Reverse Wine Snob will be even more valuable to you than the white wine list, and not only because it is more likely that you prefer red over white: Some have argued that it’s much easier to find a decent white wine than it is to find a decent red wine. Where do you hedge your bets? Check out these five reliable reds, and then let us know your thoughts in the comment section. – Snooth Editorial

14 Hands Winery Hot To Trot Red Blend 
This blend of Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington State is one of our favorite mass market brands in the super hot inexpensive red blend segment. In fact, red blends are so hot right now that they are one of the fastest growing segments in wine with double digit growth. Widely available at Costco, Trader Joe's and just about everywhere else for just $8, the Hot To Trot is loaded with aromas of ripe blackberry, plum, warm baking spice, a hint of vanilla and a little bramble. Smooth, fruity and full of sweet baking spice in the mouth it's not overly complex, but boy is it tasty. Like a lot of red blends these days this one is slightly sweet but it doesn't go overboard. 
Bring on the barbeque sauce! This wine begins with very pleasant aromas of blueberry and plum along with a little bramble, leather, vanilla and some excellent smoky notes. This is a really, really tasty wine full of wonderful fruit wrapped up in a smooth and silky texture. Nine months in basically 50% French/50% American oak (15% of which was new) was put to tremendous use here. You'll also be pleased to find notes of cola, leather and vanilla; soft, fine tannins; and good acidity in this excellently balanced wine. Pair it with anything drenched in copious amounts of bbq sauce and you'll be in heaven. It ends dry and long with more juicy fruit, cola and lingering vanilla notes. For less than $13 at Costco this might just be my new go to Zin.
If you haven't tried Merlot from Washington State, what are you waiting for? It's one of the varieties that the state does best and this example from Columbia Valley available for around $8 is a can't miss. Aromas of black cherry, plum and blackberry plus a little cola, chocolate and spice are just a few of the things you'll find. The berry fruit, cola, chocolate and spice notes continue in the mouth along with vanilla and hints of coffee that lead into the finish of this very, very smooth wine. It ends long, dry and a bit dusty and earthy. This extremely tasty wine was aged in 1/3 new oak for 14 months, which is rather crazy considering the low price! 
What kind of list would this be without an inexpensive Italian wine on it? This highly quaffable blend of 65% Corvina, 30% Rondinella and 5% Molinara from Veneto sells for around $13. It begins with a very aromatic bouquet of red cherry, plum and some herbs. Basically it smells like a delicious fresh fruit salad. The wine tastes fresh and fruity as well. This is a rather simple wine, but one that is easy to drink and very tasty. The good finish features just a bit of tangy spice and is of medium length. This would be a very nice choice to pair with a pizza. A simply delightful wine to drink. Also getting strong consideration here were the Falesco Umbria Merlot, the Tormaresca Neprica and the Vitiano Rosso. For something a bit more upscale check out the Marchesi de Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva.
We love the insane value to be found in Spanish Garnacha and this is an excellent example containing 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah from Campo de Borja. It opens with excellent aromas of blackberry and blueberry plus a little pepper and violet. The wine tastes smooth and silky with tons of juicy fruit (blueberry, raspberry and a little cranberry), spice and pepper and offers good acidity. Dry and a bit chewy tannins lead into the long, juicy and spicy finish. Other Spanish Garnacha receiving strong consideration for this list were the Evodia Garnacha, the Filon Garnacha and the Atteca Old Vines Garnacha.

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: judgelog
    Hand of Snooth
    34584 868

    If quality to price is what we are looking for here, Italian wines offer amazing values. There are some absolutely fantastic wines for under $15, and many for under $10. Try seeking out some grapes too beyond the ubiquitous sangiovese and montepulciano reds. The Guidobono nebbiolo is a huge wine that is very much a baby barolo for about $14. They also make a terrific barbera at the same price. There are some great aglianicos around that price too.

    Mar 03, 2015 at 2:11 PM

  • Snooth User: jneises
    170348 181

    I always feel more(In) dependent if I see a price on the.Suggestions as per the price on the allegrini,or the columbia crest.

    Mar 03, 2015 at 2:13 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 8,426

    It's always great to read articles on relatively low-dollar wines. I might mention that lately I am finding some good bargains from Portugal. I have had some Douro reds have been very good and have been very friendly to my wallet.

    Mar 03, 2015 at 6:27 PM

  • Snooth User: j tizzle
    1691898 29

    I've been very happy with the 14 Hands winery and their associated price points. My in-laws like wine but not the way my wife & I do. On Thanksgiving Day 2014, after the Lions trounced the Bears, the seven of us trounced four bottles of the 14 Hands Red Blend and had a ball. Good maintenance wine if you need that, or good first stop stuff for others ... still, good to just have a bottle or two on hand for whomever stops by.

    Mar 03, 2015 at 8:37 PM

  • My current weeknight wine is Three Thieves. It's s blend in a large format bottle for under $9 available at Costco. My past weeknight reds include Ménage a Trois and Bogle's Essential Red. Both under $9 and very user friendly. (And available in Costco at present)

    Mar 03, 2015 at 8:58 PM

  • Snooth User: Michel K
    1751399 6

    My wife likes 14 Hands, but loves Bogle's Essential Red even more. It drinks bigger than the price tag suggests.

    Mar 03, 2015 at 9:14 PM

  • Cocobon is good, though not quite dry enough. It is widely available. I am definitely NOT a 14 Hands fan though. I wouldn't consider buying another bottle of that. I'd stick to Spanish or Italian and pay a few bucks more for something worth a glass.

    Mar 03, 2015 at 9:20 PM

  • Trader Joe's Coastal Merlot and Coastal Syrah each sell for $4.99 and both are very good wines--no, they're nothing like "Two-Buck Chuck", which is now really Three-Buck Chuck. And their Alexander Valley Merlot could pass for a $40-50 bottle of wine--for about $13.

    Mar 03, 2015 at 11:23 PM

  • My go-to reasonably priced red is Castle Rock Pinot Noir - medium bodies yet complex, I find it sublime. The Central Coast appellation is available at Cost Plus for around $8, Monterey appellation at Traders Joes for about the same. Both are lovely.

    Mar 04, 2015 at 9:27 AM

  • Winking Owl and Charles Shaw. Wine with every meal for the family...not just special occasions. The wine makes every meal better. It improves the taste of the food and clears the palate.

    Mar 05, 2015 at 12:31 AM

  • Columbia Crest is one of my favs. more the cab than anything.

    Mar 05, 2015 at 10:38 AM

  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,085

    Always liked Edmeades in the 70's and early 80's. Have not had them since then, but willing to give them a try again.

    Mar 05, 2015 at 3:45 PM

  • Domaine La Grand Ribe, 2010 Cotes Du Rhone is our new weeknight sipper. $13 in NYC, which probably means $10-11 in other regions.

    Mar 12, 2015 at 1:02 PM

  • Snooth User: jpa194
    1445632 6

    !4 Hands is a definite "NO Thanks", Merryhill Winemakers Red from Washington State is always a reliably good pour. Cheap but good Cab?: Lindeman's Bin 45. Both from Safeway and often on sale. At Trader Joe's the Italian $5.99 Barbera Di Asti for when I feel like something on the dry side.

    Mar 13, 2015 at 4:52 PM

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