I’m not going to claim to know as much about wine as a sommelier. And I’m still a little foggy on the distinctive characteristics of specific wine regions. But I can tell you my palette is developed enough to know what good wine tastes like. To cite my claim, I’ll share with you this:
When I first quit my job to go freelance a couple years ago, I was concerned about money–but I wasn’t about to go without wine that whole time. So I thought, I’m going to fall back on my broke college go-to–Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck.” If you’re not familiar, it’s a line of wines (actually called Charles Shaw wine) Trader Joe’s sells in their wine shop that’s about $2 per bottle. From memory, I did not mind that shit at all. However, after stocking up and having my first sip in years, I realized it was completely undrinkable.
Don’t get me wrong, “Two Buck Chuck” has its place in the world, but I had just gotten used to better wines from my favorite mom & pop wine-nerd shops here in Brooklyn. Two reasons why I love those spots: 1) Everyone who works there knows a lot about wine and 2) the prices aren’t outrageous. I rarely ever spend more than 20 bucks on a bottle. (Budgets, am I right?) Here’s my list of favorites when it comes to great red wines under $20.
This is a fruit-forward wine with sweet undertones. It’s bursting with cherry and strawberry, and I definitely get a hint of cola in there, too. The tannins are velvety and soft, so this would go over well with a varied crowd. Also, the proceeds of every wine from this company are donated to a good cause. This wine’s proceeds go to helping shelter animals find homes.
I love big wines with a long finish, and Evodia hits that on the nose (see what I did there?). Lots of cherry flavor comes through as well as a significant amount of spice. I like it with a hearty meat dish, like stew.
Another easy drinking red with a decently long finish. It has a lot of plum fruit flavor as well as a sweet hay-like quality. So good with a cheese plate.
This classic French wine is a great quality for the price. It’s medium bodied with notes of peach and citrus, as well as a floral scent. This red would actually work well with fish if you aren’t fond of whites.
A beautiful dark color, this wine is a balanced flavor profile of blackberries, dark chocolate and espresso. It’s got a decadent full bodied texture, but it’s not too intense.