Red wine is the perfect drink for date night, parties, holiday dinners, or just for unwinding after work. Many people think the only good red wine out there costs at least $40, but that’s not the case. You can find some good wine for under $20 no problem.
This cheap red wine isn’t just cheap California Zinfandel (which you shouldn’t knock, by the way). They came from a variety of areas. You can get many, many different varieties of wine for under $20 and they are well worth drinking.
Here are some great red wines for under $20:
Black Box Merlot
Black Box is one of the best boxed wines out there. Their wine has many awards. Their Merlot is an excellent choice for a glass after work to drink while unwinding. It’s very smooth and full. It’s a wonderful merlot, really, and experienced wine drinkers can enjoy it even if they’re used to more expensive.
Don’t look down on this merlot because it comes in a box. A box can be a better choice for many reasons. Many places, like apartment pools, don’t allow you to have glass in the area. Black Box’s boxes also fit very conveniently in crowded areas. They’re great if you don’t want to deal with a cork or want to drink the wine a little at a time. For parties, you don’t have to worry about broken glass or a wine bottle getting left out half-full overnight.
If Merlot is to your taste, the Black Box Merlot is a great budget option that hits just the right spot.
Domaine Loubejac Pinot Noir Willamette Valley
Pinot Noir is known for a peppery, jammy taste, especially from west coast vineyards in California and Oregon. This pinot noir is from Oregon and is definitely more jammy than peppery. It’s got a cherry flavor followed by a bit of a bite. It’s not the most spectacular pinot noir out there, but it’s still very good either alone or paired with food. It pairs really great with Asian food like fried rice.
The thing about this wine is that you should drink it while it’s young. Don’t keep it around for a long time. It isn’t one of those wines that gets better with time but can instead become fizzy and unpleasantly acidic. Between this and the price, that makes it good for your after-work wine.
Radius Red Blend
This is a nice red blend out of Washington. It’s a very sweet red wine, good for those who don’t usually like wine. It isn’t too sweet for regular wine drinkers, however, and is nicely balanced. It’s also very smooth. Unlike some blends, it isn’t very complex. It’s quite soft. It’s a good after dinner wine. It pairs with food in the same way as white wines do, so drink when eating fish or pork.
Some people find this wine a miss, either too dry or too sweet for their tastes. Everyone’s wine palate is a bit different. Most people will find it a very good value for their money, however.
Simi Cabernet Alexander Valley
Coming from Sonoma, California, this Cabernet is smooth and full-bodied. It has a pleasant balance. This wine is so good that you can find it on restaurant menus for often double what you can get in a store. It pairs wonderfully with red meat.
Many people prefer this cabernet over other two or three times the price. It’s simply a wonderful cab for a budget, good for parties, dinners, and holidays, even if you’re drinking with wine snob friends.
Cline Zinfandel Ancient Vines
Like I said, don’t knock those cheapo California zinfandels. Zinfandel grapes have thrived in California since the Gold Rush and produce some of the most popular wines in the United States. It’s got good blackberry and chocolate tastes, capable of holding its own plenty alongside red meats and strong sauces. It offers great depth, especially at such a low price.
If you’ve never understood the appeal of zinfandel, or wine in general, this is a great red wine to try to get an idea of why people enjoy it. It’s served at restaurants for easily triple the price and you’ll be able to tell why.
Piatelli Premium Malbec
Malbec is an Argentine red wine that’s been growing more popular in recent years. This is an excellent example of a Malbec. It’s got a bit of fruit taste that balances well with some dryness and hints of oak. It has a wonderfully smooth and velvety texture. Malbec is a wonderfully balanced wine, great for sipping on its own or paired with food. It can work for all kinds of moods. Often, good Malbecs cost more than $20, but this one is much more accessible in terms of budget and still a great Malbec.
Coppola Diamond Zinfandel
This Zinfandel has a bit of spice to it. There’s also some blackberry and jammy flavors. It’s a smooth wine and very drinkable. Enjoy it with dinner or on its own. It has a consistently reliable good taste and has become a staple for many wine drinkers, regardless of budget.
Grayson Cabernet Sauvignon
This California cabernet sauvignon is a rich wine with a cherry aroma. There are also hints of black pepper and the finish linger with hints of oak. It’s a delightful cabernet and guests will love it when you serve it.
This wine really shows its stuff when served with sharp cheese and red meat. It is also great to drink alone, but the pairing highlights its subtle flavors.
Chianti wines are from Tuscany, Italy where they’re common table wines. This is a great example of the variety and well-within many budgets, too. It’s fresh and light-bodied with a nice balance of fruitiness and acidity. It’s not weak despite its lightness, however, and is smooth beginning to end.
If you are looking for a great Chianti, this is it. It is better than many others that cost more and will quickly become your go-to Chianti.
Know of more good red wines for under $20? Let us know!