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TEN UNDER TEN – RED WINE FOR THE RECESSION

Updated on November 5, 2009
wine bottles at a resturant in downtown nagoya by eva funderburgh
wine bottles at a resturant in downtown nagoya by eva funderburgh

Nice Red Wines on a Tight Budget

These are tough times, and we’re all feeling the need to drown our sorrows. American winemakers are rising to the challenge by crafting delightful reds, nuanced and immensely drinkable, with recession-friendly price tags.

Here are ten all-American red wines, all readily available, and all under ten bucks. Raise your glass - American winemaking ingenuity deserves a toast!

JARGON PINOT NOIR, CALIFORNIA, 2007, $9.99


Pinot Noir is the true nobility of the wine universe, notoriously difficult (and expensive) to grow. Jargon, produced by Trinchero Vineyard in the Napa Valley, is a delicious, juicy pinot noir. Flavors of cocoa and black cherry are carried along on a smooth, lively texture – perfect for chicken on the grill or pizza on the porch.

HACIENDA MERLOT, SONOMA VALLEY, 2007, $8.99


Merlot is like an old friend, comfortable, reliable, and up for almost anything. This old friend is also an amazing bargain – balanced tannins, bright cherry flavors, and a delightful sweetness on the finish make this wine an ideal everyday sipper.

RABBIT RIDGE CABERNET SAUVIGNON, CENTRAL COAST, 2007, $7.99


Loads of dark fruit pour out of the glass – think plums and blackberries – with an intriguing finish of cedar and mint. Sixteen months in oak give this bunny sophistication not often found at this price.

REX GOLIATH GIANT 47 POUND ROOSTER SHIRAZ, CALIFORNIA, NV, $6.99


Winemaker Matt Spate brought home the best in class for this wine at the 2006 San Francisco International Wine Competition. Lush and flat-out sexy, with hints of flowers and black pepper that underscore ripe raspberry flavors and a delicate structure.

McMANIS PETITE SIRAH, RIVER JUNCTION, 2007, $9.99


Nope, not syrah – it’s sirah, a lesser-known grape that’s responsible for really terrific, inexpensive wines. This is a sensational example, smoky and dense, with clove and cinnamon notes that can stand up to ribs or sloppy Joes.

ROSENBLUM CELLARS ZINFANDEL, CALIFORNIA, NV, $8.99


Zin is the classic American grape; robust and friendly, this example offers a refreshing, medium-bodied acidity. This is quintessential spaghetti wine, but also try it with more complex Mediterranean recipes, like risotto or bruchetta.

IRONSTONE CABERNET FRANC, CALIFORNIA, 2006, $7.99


Cabernet franc is most often a blending grape in Bordeaux. But a couple of innovative California producers let cabernet franc shine on its own, and Ironstone’s offering shines brightly. Fresh strawberries and cream predominate; subtle and young, this is an extremely drinkable wine, sure to impress even the snobbiest of dinner guests.

ST. JULIAN CONCORD, LAKE MICHIGAN SHORE, NV, $7.99


PawPaw, Michigan is home to one of the largest wineries in the Midwest. This wine, made from 100% concord grapes, is concentrated and sweet, with an intense grapeyness tailor-made for an afternoon at the beach.

DR. KONSTANTIN FRANK COHO RED, FINGER LAKES, 2007, $6.99


Dr. Frank makes this blend primarily from Aglianico, a little-known Italian varietal perfectly suited to Long Island’s unique climate. Coho Red has a bouncy, youthful freshness thanks to a bit of residual sugar. Notes of honeysuckle and peaches are unusual and refreshing.

CARLO ROSSI RED SANGRIA, CALIFORNIA, NV, $8.99/4L JUG


Delightful commercial sangria, sweet, tangy, and light. Pour it over ice and garnish it with some citrus fruit, and pretend your backyard barbeque is a swanky plaza in Spain.

Bonus Recommendation (#11):


2 up Shiraz 2007, South Australia, $9.49


This Shiraz/Syrah (the same varietal) offers dark berries with spicy stewed plums and dark cherries. Long lingering finish reflecting blackberries and blueberries on the palate, with fine tannins and notes of complex spices. A very nice choice, especially with Italian dishes and grilled meats, at a very nice price.

So, stock up on these tasty bargains. And, don't forget to store them properly, or all of those savings will be in vain. Invest in an inexpensive wine cooler/wine fridge - even a small 8-bottle wine cooler will do for starters. Then, you can enjoy a really nice wine in the future, perhaps even better than it would be today.

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