Wines of the Week

25 of the Best Reds Under $25

Photo by John Anderson

"Dear Wes,
My husband and I are having the neighbors over for a party next weekend. Can you recommend a good red wine for the party? Any help can be appreciated! Also, we live outside of Austin, so they need to be easy to find. One other thing, we don’t like Cabernet." -KH

There are hundreds of great obscure bargains, so your best strategy and this goes for folks in Austin as well, is to find a good salesperson and then let them know that you trust them and are therefore going to give them all of your business. When you do, they will get to know you and your taste and will be able to guide you to the off-the-beaten-track bargains. Nonetheless, I’m going to recommend widely available wines that should be easy to find.

Among the west coast wineries, I would look for Columbia Crest H3 Merlot or Syrah ($13). Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel is often on sale for under $10 and it’s a screaming bargain. Another great Zin bargain is Rancho Zabaco Heritage Vines Zinfandel ($11). Tablas Creek is a winery that seems incapable of making a bad wine. Look for their Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rouge ($20).

These European wines are a little more obscure, but still probably available. Masi Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese ($17) is one of my favorite Italian wines at any price. I’m also a big fan of Banfi’s Centine ($12), a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet. France still produces a good number of excellent wines at respectable prices, like Domaine de Nizas Coteaux du Languedoc ($15), Chapoutier Belleruche ($12), and Château Greysac ($16). Two of my favorite French wines that are a little harder to find, but worth the look are Chateau de la Chaize, Brouilly ($16) and Clotilde Davenne Irancy ($20). The former has the benefit of drinking nicely at a cooler temperature, say 55 degrees. Ms. Davenne’s Irancy is a gorgeous Pinot Noir from Burgundy.

Photo by John Anderson

Argentina’s preeminent red grape is the Malbec and it’s actually hard to find a bad one. Start with Alamos Mendoza Malbec ($10), a perfectly balanced wine that is uncommon at its price. From the same owner, Catena Malbec ($23) is a worthwhile splurge. Other Malbecs worth looking for include Bodega Norton Reserva ($16), Susana Balbo Signature Malbec ($22), and Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec ($20). From Chile, Lapostolle Canto de Apalta Red Blend ($20) uses several red grapes to bring out the best in all of them, while the Montes Alpha Syrah ($25) hones in on its grape’s rich berry aromas.

Finally, be aware that Texas is now producing red wines that can compete on the world stage. Kim McPherson’s winery not only produces great wine, but the keep their prices entirely in line with competitors from Europe. Try McPherson’s "La Herencia," ($14). Two other consistent favorites are Becker Vineyards’ Prairie Rotie ($22) and Duchman Aglianico ($20). Currently, Tempranillo is Texas’s best red wine. Look for Pedernales Cellars Texas Tempranillo ($20), Llano Estacado’s “Cellar Reserve” Tempranillo from the Texas High Plains ($20), and Fall Creek Tempranillo “Salt Lick Vineyards.”

Hope these help and have a great party!

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