Top 10 Red Wines for $10 or Under
Last year my mother gave me a silver locket that used to be hers. I wear it every day and get endless compliments. What I get even more than the compliments is the question, “Oooooh what’s inside? Is it a picture of your lover?”
Time and time again, I opened the locket. And it remained empty.
Until one day I decided to put an end to the shame of being lover-less. I put a hand drawn picture of my eternal love in my locket. A love that never plays games. A love that’s kind, warming and always makes me happy.
I drew a bottle of wine.
Instead of feeling sad and lonely about all the red roses and boxes of chocolate in store windows, I feel that February is the perfect time to go shopping for red wine instead. Here are my picks for 10 great reds under 10 bucks.
1. Trentare Rosso: Wine that’s less than $4 scares me. I tried a couple bottles of mixed prices from the cheapo wino haven Trader Joe’s, and the super cheap ones just taste like a bad hangover. But for just a couple bucks more, this Italian red is my favorite bottle from TJ’s. It’s equal parts Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Montepulciano. Great on its own, it’s medium bodied, juicy, with soft tannins, a little smokiness, and you can finish a bottle without a nasty hangover. $5.99 at Trader Joe’s, 138 E. 14th St.
2. Chateau los Boldos Carmenere: Awesome. The wine specialist at Gramercy Wines Cellar raved about this red, and I see why. Carmenere was originally a French grape, but now is one of the most prominent grapes of Chile. It’s full bodied, peppery, and perfect to start with dinner, then finish after as the hours glide smoothly by while sitting on the couch, Carmenere in hand. $8.99 at Gramercy Wines Cellar, 236 Third Ave.
3. Gladiator Cyclos: I first tried this wine about a year ago during one of 2010’s epic snowstorms. I went into September Wines, my favorite wine store in Manhattan, and asked for something cheap to suit the weather. Shortly after began my love for the wine with a picture of a naked chick on a motorcycle on the label. This spicy Syrah never ceases to fill any empty space in my heart. Okay, it’s 99 cents more than the rest, but for eternal love? It’s a small price to pay. $10.99 at September Wines, 100 Stanton St.
4. Caves de Papes Cotes de Rhone: My parents buy this Trader Joe’s gem by the case. Generally a light-to-medium-bodied wine, de Cotes is a classic French varietal that you can drink at any time. I particularly like this wine at the start of my evening, before working my way to a heftier red. $5.99 at Trader Joe’s, 138 E. 14 St.
5. Concha del Toro Casillero del Diablos: This producer is carried in most liquor stores and most of their wines are pretty solid. If you like to wear your chef’s hat during your solo night in, whether every night’s a solo night in or not, this Cab Sav would be well paired with a meaty dish. Otherwise it’s a little too dry to jump right into. $7.99 all around town.
6. Monte de Oton Garnacha: As friendly as the polka dots on the bottle, this Spanish red has a lot of mixed fruit. Slightly floral, there’s no need to eat with this wine. Perfect for the teaser days in February when it’s not quite freezing out, and all you Bushwickians can find it at Big Tree Bottles. Even better, they deliver. $10.00 at Big Tree Bottles, 43 Bogart St.
7. Sangiovese Rubicone: A jammy Italian with a ton of white pepper — it has a complex enough palette that doesn’t get boring after two glasses. $5.99 at Astor Wines, 399 Lafayette St.
8. Campos Reales Tempranillo: The black and red label on the bottle of this Tempranillo screams “dreamy romance.” The berry, spice ,and soft tannins will have you dreaming of Spain in a flash, the warm summer wind blowing your hair as you lounge on your Spanish villa’s terrace. “Te amo,” you’ll say. “Mi vino, te amo.” $9.00 at Gnarly Vines, 350 Myrtle Ave.
9. Ala Nera Nero d’Avola: A perfect example of the classic Sicilian varietal that’s best enjoyed with a big bowl of pasta, followed by a big dessert, and then maybe a unexpected nap on the couch whilst in the middle of deciding which “British romantic drama with a strong femalelead” to watch on Netflix Instant — a previously unknown genre, but one that Netflix suggests you’ll love. Maybe as much as the wine. $9.99. Village Wine & Spirits, 486 Sixth Ave.
10. Camille Cayran Cotes du Rhone Le Pas de la Beaume: Well balanced — good acidity and something easy to jump right into as the clock strikes “cocktail hour,” whatever time that is in your book. $9.99 at Chelsea Wine Vault, 75 Ninth Ave.