Now in the holiday season, you may be looking for more economical bottles of delicious red wine with firm tannins to go with those crisper days, heavier meals and crackling fires.
But you don’t need to spend a fortune on red wine. It can still taste plenty rich even when you buy it on the cheap. We researched popular wine retailers to find the best cheap red wine, along with some affordable, lesser-known alternatives, and got some help from Nick Elliott, a winemaking expert based in California.
We’ve got some great information about how to select red wine and why prices are what they are. However, if you just want to skip to the list of 13 great red wineswe understand.
Setting the Table for Red Wine: A Brief Q&A
Before we jump into our list of inexpensive red wines, let’s review some common questions that come up when talking about red wine.
Why Are Some Red Wines So Pricey?
Lots of reasons. Here are some typical factors driving the price of red wines.
- Age: Red wine is aged, and the longer a bottle sits in storage the more it costs to bring it to market. One rule of thumb? Expect to spend a dollar for every year of aging.
- Smaller quantity: Compared to whites, red-wine grapes are often harvested in smaller quantities to encourage more flavor. Smaller quantities mean lower volume, hence high prices.
- More labor intensive: Smaller “boutique” vineyards often use more labor-intensive methods versus high-volume producers.
- Shorter supply: When a growing season for a particular vintage produces lower yields, the wine can be more flavorful but in shorter supply. That means higher demand and a higher price.
- Reputation: Varietals that are in fashion or have a storied reputation can command a higher price.
- Labor and taxes: Labor costs vary widely across the globe. Taxes and tariffs, too.
- Oak barrels: Wines aged in oak cost more to produce and are often in greater demand.