Red Wine on the Cheap (But Still Delish)

by in Healthy Tips, May 15, 2009


After a busy week with my kids and work, I like to relax with a nice glass of wine. Most consider wine a pricey treat, but there are deals to be had. I called my friend Joe Gerardi, a wine buyer for Stamford Wine & Liquor, to find the best vino for your buck.

1) McManis
This family-owned vineyard is located in California, where they’ve been growing grapes since 1938. They offer a wide variety of reds, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, that are a definite step up from the “Two-Buck Chuck” (Trader Joe’s aficionados should know that name).
Price range: $9-11

2) Nero d’Avola, Cusumano
Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s most popular red grape and offers a vibrant taste of cherry, blackberry jam and juniper berries. This wine pairs nicely with mushrooms or a fresh brick-oven cheese pizza.
Price range: $10-12

3) Cono Sur
This Chilean winery was founded in 1993 and in 2003 had its first organic-certified harvest of grapes! They carry many inexpensive reds, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Price range: $7-11

4) Beaujolais-Villages, Georges Du Boeuf
French wines with labels from these villages supposedly produce higher quality grapes than the rest of Beaujolais. Georges Du Boeuf is one of the largest producers in the Beaujolais region, and the wines tend to be lively and fruity. Have them slightly chilled.
Price range: $8-11

5) Delas
This winery was founded 160 years ago in Côtes du Rhône, France. The 2007 vintage is one of their tastiest.
Price range: $10-15

Why Wine Is a Healthy Eat
Enjoyed in moderation, red wine has well-known beneficial effects. What’s moderation? That’s one 5-ounce glass for women and two 5-ounce glasses for men per day (nope, you can’t save all your drinks for Friday night). A glass of wine contains around 150 calories as well as the antioxidant resveratrol, which comes from red grapes and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. This doesn’t mean you should gulp down bottles wine to get more antioxidants — too much alcohol can harm the liver. Studies show overindulgence can also increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart failure.

Wine also contains sulfite, a preservative that winemakers add. Sulfites may cause an allergic reaction, especially in asthmatics. Any wine sold in the U.S. that has sulfites will have a label explaining that. Organic wines — look for “100% organic” or “USDA organic” — do not contain sulfites.

Another Option: Sangria
This Spanish drink is a mix of wine, fruit, seltzer and sometimes brandy or cognac. I often make it for a summer brunch or a dinner party with friends. When preparing sangria, start with a fruity wine that isn’t too sweet — the added fruit enhances the sweetness. Some great base wines for sangria are the McMannis or Cono Sur’s Pinot Noir or Georges Du Boeuf wines. ( Recipe to try: Sangria)

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Comments (8)

  1. It just so happens that sulfites aren’t always added to wine, some of them are natural byproducts of the wine-making process. In fact, many organic wines contain sulfites. One of the problems with the American system of certifying organic wines is that the FDA requires the wine to have zero sulfites – even if the grapes and fermentation process were 100% organic.

    Even Cono Sur, which you listed and is an organic wine maker, isn’t considered organic in the U.S. They do put make with 100% organic grapes on the label (I’m glad they can do that).

    And one last thing, did you know that sulfites were not responsible for the red wine headache some people get? They’ve ruled that out because bread, lettuce and lunch meat have far higher sulfites than red wine.

    A great place to learn about resveratrol, red wine headaches, sulfites and organic wine is http://www.benefits-of-resveratrol.com. They’ve got a bevy of good information.

  2. betty says:

    try the Chilean carmeneres

  3. Vicki says:

    Another red wine that is tasty and inexpensive is called “Joe Blow” and is made by the Delacato Winery in Manteca, California. It is a blend of all the red wines they make and was found by mistake. They also have a “Joe Blow” White made the same way. They snatch a bottle of wine off the line to check it out and make sure it is what they want. The bottle they take off the line is then dumped into a vat with all the other red or white wines. One day while some of the workers were having lunch one of them decided to drink some of the wine from the vat and decided it was pretty good. Some of the others tried it and felt the same way. One of them then made the statement, “… Any Joe Blow could make this wine…” and that’s how it got it’s name. This story is even stated on the case of wine in comes in. Try some … I hope you’ll enjoy it. It’s about $7.00 a bottle.

  4. jude teal says:

    Surprise – Charles Shaw aka Two Buck Chuck (available at
    Trader Joe’s) WON FIRST PRIZE at the California State Fair last year.

  5. Tempe says:

    We make our wine, ale and rootbeer…but our favorite table wine for casual consumption is Carlo Rossi’s Sangria…delish for about $14 a gallon…lol. Maybe that’s too budget minded for you…but try it sometime when you’re saving your good Cab for a special occasion. Just a tad cool is nice, but room temp seems to be best for us. Cheers!!!

  6. rose champagne says:

    I like Georges Dubceuf Beaujolais Nouveau

  7. Juliana Lightle says:

    Natura from Chile has a great red wine and is supposedly organic. You can find it for about ten dollars at World Market.

  8. sharon says:

    Rex goliath cabernet has good scores and is very affordable.

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