When it comes to enjoying a good glass of wine, the price tag doesn't always have to be high. There are plenty of delicious red wines available for under $20 that won't break the bank. Whether you're a wine connoisseur or just starting to explore the world of wine, there are many options to choose from that are both affordable and tasty.
One of the best things about finding a great red wine under $20 is that it allows you to try different varietals without feeling like you're taking a big financial risk. You can explore different regions, styles, and flavor profiles without worrying about spending too much money. In addition, many of these wines are easy to find at your local wine shop or grocery store, making it convenient to try new things without having to go out of your way.
So, whether you're looking for a bold and spicy red to pair with your favorite steak or a lighter, fruitier red to enjoy on a warm summer evening, there are plenty of options available that won't break the bank. In the following sections, we'll take a look at some of the best red wines under $20 that are sure to please any palate.
Understanding the Basics of Red Wine
Red wine is a type of wine made from dark-colored grape varieties. The color of red wine comes from the skin of the grapes, which is left in contact with the juice during the fermentation process. Red wines are typically richer and more complex than white wines, and they pair well with a variety of foods.
One of the key components of red wine is tannin. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes. They give red wine its astringency, which is that dry, puckering feeling you get in your mouth when you drink it. Tannins also help to preserve the wine and give it structure.
Red wines tend to have a higher alcohol content than white wines. This is because the skins of the grapes used to make red wine contain more sugar, which is converted to alcohol during the fermentation process. The alcohol content of red wine can range from around 12% to 15% or higher.
The temperature at which red wine is served can have a big impact on its flavor. Red wines are typically served at room temperature, which is around 60-65°F. However, this can vary depending on the type of wine. Lighter red wines, such as Pinot Noir, can be served slightly cooler, while fuller-bodied red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, can be served slightly warmer.
Pairing with Food
Red wine is a versatile pairing for a wide range of foods. The tannins in red wine help to cut through the fat in meat dishes, making it a great choice for steak, lamb, and other hearty dishes. Red wine also pairs well with pasta dishes, pizza, and cheese. When choosing a red wine to pair with food, consider the weight and flavor of the dish, as well as the tannin and acidity of the wine.
Best Red Wine Varieties Under $20
When it comes to finding a great red wine that won't break the bank, there are a number of varieties that offer excellent value for their price. Here are some of the best red wine varieties under $20 that you can enjoy without feeling guilty about the price tag.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic red wine variety that is known for its bold, full-bodied flavor. It is typically grown in warmer climates and is often aged in oak barrels to enhance its complexity. Some excellent Cabernet Sauvignon wines that are available for under $20 include:
- Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon
- Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
- Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon
Malbec is a red wine variety that is known for its dark fruit flavors and smooth tannins. It is often grown in Argentina and is a great choice for those who enjoy a full-bodied red wine. Some excellent Malbec wines that are available for under $20 include:
- Alamos Malbec
- Trapiche Malbec
- Dona Paula Estate Malbec
Pinot Noir is a red wine variety that is known for its lighter body and delicate flavors. It is typically grown in cooler climates and is often aged in oak barrels to enhance its complexity. Some excellent Pinot Noir wines that are available for under $20 include:
- La Crema Pinot Noir
- Mark West Pinot Noir
- Meiomi Pinot Noir
Tempranillo is a red wine variety that is known for its earthy flavors and medium body. It is typically grown in Spain and is often aged in oak barrels to enhance its complexity. Some excellent Tempranillo wines that are available for under $20 include:
- Campo Viejo Tempranillo
- Marques de Caceres Rioja Crianza
- Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva
Zinfandel is a red wine variety that is known for its bold, spicy flavors and high alcohol content. It is typically grown in California and is often aged in oak barrels to enhance its complexity. Some excellent Zinfandel wines that are available for under $20 include:
- Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel
- Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel
- 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel
Cabernet Franc is a red wine variety that is known for its lighter body and herbaceous flavors. It is often used as a blending grape in Bordeaux wines but can also be found as a single varietal wine. Some excellent Cabernet Franc wines that are available for under $20 include:
- Chinon Les Granges Domaine Bernard Baudry
- Chateau de la Roulerie Les Terrasses
- Domaine des Roches Neuves Saumur-Champigny
Grenache is a red wine variety that is known for its fruity flavors and low tannins. It is often used as a blending grape in Rhone wines but can also be found as a single varietal wine. Some excellent Grenache wines that are available for under $20 include:
- Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha
- Domaine de la Janasse Cotes du Rhone Villages Terre d'Argile
- La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Ventoux Rouge
Overall, there are plenty of excellent red wine varieties that are available for under $20. By exploring different varieties and trying new wines, you can find some great options that won't break the bank.
Exploring Wine Regions
When it comes to finding the best red wines under $20, exploring wine regions is a great way to discover new and exciting options. Here are a few regions to consider:
Italy is known for producing some of the world's best wines, and their reds are no exception. Regions such as Tuscany and Piedmont are particularly famous for their red wines. Tuscany is home to Chianti, a red wine that is made primarily from Sangiovese grapes. Other popular red wines from Italy include Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Nero d'Avola.
Argentina is a rising star in the wine world, and their red wines are gaining popularity among wine enthusiasts. The country is known for its Malbec, a red wine that is rich and full-bodied with notes of blackberry and plum. Other popular red wines from Argentina include Bonarda and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The United States is home to several wine regions, but one of the most famous is Napa Valley in California. Napa Valley is known for producing some of the world's best Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as other red wines such as Merlot and Zinfandel. Other regions in the United States that produce great red wines include Washington State and Oregon.
Chile is another up-and-coming wine region, and their red wines are gaining recognition for their quality and value. The country is known for its Carmenere, a red wine that is similar in taste to Cabernet Sauvignon but has a slightly spicier flavor. Other popular red wines from Chile include Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Exploring these wine regions is a great way to discover new and exciting red wines under $20. Whether you prefer a full-bodied Malbec from Argentina or a spicy Carmenere from Chile, there are plenty of options to choose from. So, grab a bottle and start exploring!
Pairing Red Wines with Food
Pairing red wines with food is an art that can enhance the flavors of both the wine and the food. When it comes to pairing red wines with food, there are a few general rules to keep in mind.
Firstly, lighter-bodied red wines like Pinot Noir and Beaujolais pair well with lighter dishes such as grilled salmon, roasted chicken, and mushroom risotto. On the other hand, full-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec pair well with heartier dishes like beef stew, grilled steak, and lasagna.
When it comes to pasta, it's best to pair red wines with tomato-based sauces. A Chianti or Sangiovese pairs well with a classic spaghetti and meatballs, while a Barbera or Zinfandel pairs well with a spicy arrabbiata sauce. For pizza, a Chianti or a red blend like Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon-Malbec can be a great choice.
When it comes to cheese, a good rule of thumb is to pair the wine with the intensity of the cheese. Lighter red wines like Pinot Noir pair well with mild cheeses like brie and camembert, while fuller-bodied red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon pair well with stronger cheeses like cheddar and gouda.
Ultimately, the best way to discover which red wines pair well with which foods is to experiment and try different combinations. Don't be afraid to try something new and find your own perfect pairing.
Flavor Profiles of Affordable Red Wines
When it comes to affordable red wines, there are plenty of options available that offer a range of flavor profiles. Here are some of the most common flavor profiles found in red wines under $20:
Many affordable red wines have fruity flavors, such as blackberry, strawberry, plum, and boysenberry. These flavors are often accompanied by a hint of spice or herbs, which add complexity to the wine.
Pepper and Spice
Pepper and spice are also common flavor profiles in affordable red wines. These flavors can range from subtle hints of black pepper to more prominent notes of cinnamon and other spices.
Red fruit flavors, such as cherry and raspberry, are often found in affordable red wines. These flavors can be quite pronounced in some wines, while in others they may be more subtle.
Tobacco and Cedar
Some affordable red wines have a distinct tobacco or cedar flavor profile. These flavors can add depth and complexity to the wine, and are often found in more full-bodied red wines.
Vanilla and Licorice
Finally, vanilla and licorice are two other common flavor profiles found in affordable red wines. These flavors can be quite pronounced in some wines, while in others they may be more subtle.
Overall, the flavor profile of an affordable red wine will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of grape used, the region where the wine was produced, and the winemaking process. By exploring different types of affordable red wines, wine lovers can discover a range of interesting and complex flavor profiles without breaking the bank.
Online Wine Shops for Best Deals
When it comes to finding the best deals on red wines under $20, shopping online can be a great option. Not only can you easily compare prices and reviews from multiple sources, but many online wine shops offer discounts and promotions that can help you save even more.
One popular online wine shop for finding red wines under $20 is Total Wine & More. They offer a wide selection of wines from around the world, with many options priced at $20 or less. Additionally, they often have sales and promotions that can help you save even more on your purchase.
Another great option for finding affordable red wines is Vivino. Their website and app allow you to browse and purchase wines from a variety of sources, including local wine shops and online retailers. They also offer a "Best Wines Under $20" section, which can be a helpful starting point for finding great deals.
For those looking for expert recommendations on the best red wines under $20, Wine Enthusiast is a great resource. They regularly publish lists of top-rated wines at various price points, including their "12 Best Red Wines Under $20" list. While you may not always find these exact wines at your local wine shop or online retailer, the list can provide valuable guidance on what to look for in terms of quality and value.
When shopping for red wines under $20 online, it's important to keep in mind that shipping costs can add up quickly. Be sure to check for free shipping promotions or consider purchasing multiple bottles at once to make the most of your purchase. Additionally, it's always a good idea to read reviews and ratings from other customers before making a purchase, to ensure you're getting a wine that meets your expectations.
Other Affordable Wine Options
If you're looking for other affordable wine options, there are plenty of choices beyond just red wine. Here are some options to consider:
Rosé is a great option for those who want something light and refreshing. It pairs well with a variety of foods, including seafood, salads, and grilled meats. Some affordable options to consider include:
- Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé: This rosé hails from the south of France and is a blend of several different grape varieties. It has notes of strawberry and citrus and is a great option for those who want a dry wine.
- Dark Horse Rosé: This California rosé is a blend of several different grape varieties and has notes of watermelon and raspberry. It's a great option for those who want a fruity wine.
White wine is another great option for those who want something light and refreshing. It pairs well with seafood, poultry, and salads. Some affordable options to consider include:
- Sauvignon Blanc: This wine is known for its bright acidity and citrus flavors. Some affordable options include Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc.
- Riesling: This wine is known for its sweet and floral notes. Some affordable options include Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling and Clean Slate Riesling.
Orange wine is a type of wine that is made by leaving white wine grapes to ferment with their skins on. This gives the wine an orange hue and a unique flavor profile. It pairs well with a variety of foods, including roasted meats and spicy dishes. Some affordable options to consider include:
- La Stoppa Ageno: This Italian orange wine has notes of apricot and honey and pairs well with roasted meats.
- Donkey & Goat Stone Crusher: This California orange wine has notes of orange blossom and pairs well with spicy dishes.
Champagne is a great option for those who want something bubbly and celebratory. It pairs well with a variety of foods, including seafood, poultry, and cheese. Some affordable options to consider include:
- Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label: This champagne has notes of apple and pear and is a great option for those who want a dry wine.
- Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve: This champagne has notes of peach and is a great option for those who want a fruity wine.