Party Planning on a Budget: 5 Great Red Wines for $15 or Less

Happy Monday!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Today’s topic: wine on a budget.

Over the last few years, I’ve become a red wine drinker and, unfortunately, some of my favorite options are a little on the pricey side. DISCLAIMER: I’m no professional when it comes to tasting — I just like to try new wines and see how I like them. I’ll then buy those (if they’re at a good price range) for dinner parties or the holidays and ask around to see what our guests enjoy.

Here are five options that are a little less expensive for your next dinner party — or after a tough day at the office! While writing this article, I also noticed a ton of great recipes on each site, so I may have to try those out.

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1-Dreaming Tree Crush 2012

Going in thinking I would not be impressed with this wine, it’s quickly become one of my go-tos—as has Dreaming Tree’s Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s listed at $15 a bottle on the website, but at our local grocery stores, a lot of times it’s on sale for $12. Description: Notes of smoky berry and a pop of raspberry jam.

From the tasting notes: “A blend of the North Coast’s finest varieties, this wine has some great caramel oak and mixed berry characters on the nose, juicy raspberry flavors and full-but-soft and approachable tannins.”

2-Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Initially, I loved Chateau Ste. Michelle’s chardonnay and it was a restaurant go-to when I wanted a good glass of wine that wasn’t outrageously priced. Their cab is delicious, too and runs right around the $15 range, though, again, at least locally for us, it’s often on sale. If we’re making steaks at home, I’ll often pick up a bottle of the cab — it’s great! Description: Crafted to highlight concentrated Washington red fruit.

From the tasting notes: “Fresh and expressive, deftly balanced and juicy, with raspberry and cherry flavors supported by hints of cinnamon and pepper. The finish persists against nubby tannins. Drink now through 2020.”

3-Ménage à Trois Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Because of its name, I always feel a little inappropriate having this on-hand for our families at the holidays, but it’s a great table wine that usually runs about $14 per bottle. It was one of the first reds I had ever tried and it’s always an easy one to grab when I’m at the store. Description: Blend-46% Zinfandel, 36% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon

From the tasting notes: “Loaded with black fruit and dark chocolate aromas. Smooth and full-bodied with a lovely juiciness for many dishes. A blend of zinfandel, merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes.”

4-2013 Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ve only had this one a handful of times and I blanked on the name, so I had to phone a wine-loving friend! The times I have had it, I’ve loved it and it’s a proven crowdpleaser since I’ve had it at multiple parties. And at $12 a bottle…sold!  Description:Blend: 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 2% Syrah, 2% Other Varietals.

From the tasting notes: “There are aromas of dark berry fruits and plum on the nose with chocolate and vanilla on the palate.”

5-Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap 2009

When we were in Southern Africa a couple summers ago, I became obsessed with La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. My cousin brought it with us on safari and we would enjoy a bottle at dinner each night. SO delicious. When I first got back, I looked for it locally and had no luck, and, in my mission to have ANY South African wine, gave The Wolftrap a shot. It’s really a good option – I like the blackberry flavor, personally. Description: Red blend including Syrah, Mourvedre and Viognier.

From the tasting notes: “‘The easy one’ – Full of black fruits, red and black berries with some violet flavors. Smooth on the palate with some fresh aromas of wild strawberries and cherries.”

For a few dollars more…

Here are my top 3 under-$20 picks that I find at our local stores (again, I can almost always find one of them on sale!)

1-Silver Palm Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

2-Decoy Pinot Noir 2013

3-2013 J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon – MY FAVORITE! J. Lohr also has a Hilltop cabernet that we splurged on a few times during the summer. It’s amazing!

Hope you enjoy one of these wines at your next party — I may have to have a glass tonight after work!


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