I can’t claim to be a wine expert but I’ve drunk my fair share of it (almost always responsibly) and I know what I like. I’ve been very fortunate to have, at times some amazingly fine wines. When my father passed away my brothers and I split his wine collection and since then we have opened a bottle for when we’re together or for special occasions. These are the kind of wines where you understand what sommeliers mean when they talk about notes of leather, red currant, cinnamon etc. Wines you savor.

However, just because I’m economizing doesn’t mean I’m going to give up my wine. I’m just being frugal about it. And frugal doesn’t mean Boones Farm or wine in a box. There are plenty of good-to-very-good wines out there for under (dare I say it) $10.00. YES there are!

For me, I am put off by wines that are heavy on the vanilla or are thin and acidic. Unfortunately, these are both qualities of many inexpensive wines. Also, I’m a red drinker almost exclusively and have learned that red varietals like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon don’t come off as well at the lower price points. You have to be realistic and a blend is usually your best bet. Mixing grape varieties enhances the good qualities of each and softens the bad.

Here then are some of my favorites.

From Portugal: Casa Santos Lima’s Bons Ventos 2009 and Espiga. Bons Ventos is a bit richer and the Espiga sharper but at under $8 they’re eminently enjoyable.

From California: Cupcake Vineyards’s Red Velvet- available at CostCo for $8. Important note- this is the only one of their varietals that works for me. The Merlot and Shiraz are dreadful.

From Washington State: 14 Hands’ Hot to Trot. This is at the high end of my inexpensive wines, coming at $9.99. Which is why when I find it on sale I buy several bottles. A great rich red blend.

When the weather warms up (July!) I do like a white now and then but am not a fan of the basics- chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. I love Viognier but they are usually pricey. Again, blends come to the rescue and this California white from Hashi is a beautiful blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. It’s often served in Japanese restaurants as it is a wonderful accompaniment to sushi. The only place I’ve found it in Portland is at Uwajimaya, the premier Asian market in the PNW.

The other white I always enjoy is a Portuguese wine called Vinho Verde. It is crisp, fresh and has the slightest hint of effervescence. A perfect summer wine. I've bought it from several different wineries and never been disappointed.

If you like wine but are not a subscriber of Wine Spectator (dahling) what are your favorite every day choices?


  1. I love a good wine and it is interesting to see the good varieties from there. I'm with you in choosing an inexpensive but not bland type. I love a good Malbec and Cabernet but it is often hit and miss with me when I try a new brand.

    Cheers! xx

  2. I LOVE sutter home pinot grigio. Too much.

  3. Great ideas for not-too-pricey wines. I'll definitely try the Portugese reds. I still don't think it's warm enough for viognier or a dry rose. Sigh.


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