Readers’ favorite frugal wines


A frugal friend of mine (you know who you are, Danny) once brought me four bottles of wine — two in the $6 range, two priced around $2. His idea was to see if we could tell the difference in a blind tasting.

Could we ever.

So there may be a lower price limit on acceptable wines. Still, there are nice wines out there that won’t break the bank, even if you want a glass every night.

With holiday credit card bills arriving, it’s time to find some. So I asked readers to email me the names of the cheapest wines they have found drinkable, along with a brief description.

I got an earful, with favorite wines ranging from $6.99 to $11.99. And I found that newspaper readers can be as purple with their prose as any overwrought wine writer.

I get Concha y Toro, both red and white, in magnums. $6.99. Their pinot grigio is really good.

Apothic Red. Hints of mocha and vanilla, really good. $10. Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon, very smooth, full-bodied. $11.

A Florida wine my wife and I enjoy is from Lakeridge Winery in Clermont – a very likeable, tasty, light red wine low in tannin. It goes well with red meat, chicken and barbecue. $11.

Barefoot Bubbly extra dry California champagne is my favorite – not as puckery as other champagnes, lemony flavors. $9.99.

My favorite is McManis Petite Sirah because of its big, bold flavor, great nose and long smooth finish at a great price. $9.99. My wife likes wines that are a little lighter. She really likes St. Francis red. $11.99. We both love Cristalino Brut Cava. For an inexpensive wine, it has a rich, creamy texture and lots of small, sparkling bubbles. $7.99.

I like sweet wines, so I love the Mirassou Moscato. It tastes like bubbly orange juice. $11.

Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon – a really gutsy cabernet sauvignon with incredible depth of flavor and wonderful bouquet. $7.

Citra Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, full-bodied, concentrated Italian wine with character and grace. $6.99. Garnacha de Fuego from Spain, fine and fruity. $6.99. Antinori Tormaresca Neprica Italian red blend with outstanding taste. $10. Salud!

My wife won’t drink anything but white wine. Good thing we both like Mandolin Chardonnay. Not sweet at all. Kind of zingy. $10.

Tablao, a Spanish red blend of tempranillo, garnacha, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. An easy drinker with pasta, pizza and on its own. $7.99. Does it have the nuance of all the varietals listed? Possibly not. Is it tasty and affordable? Heck yes!

Finally, Ernesto Esperitu of Miami Beach just threw up his hands: “If I were sophisticated enough to describe a wine as ‘ Red Diamond Merlot,’ a magical blend of flavors, redolent and evocative of a fruity orchard, I wouldn’t be drinking the cheap stuff. $9.99.”

You go, Ernesto.

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