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

Happy Monday!

Hope everyone had a great weekend! It was nice going into a few days off knowing the Saints had already won for the week and that Jason would be home. We went to the LSU/Florida game on Saturday night and had a great time! It was my first time in Death Valley and it certainly lived up to the hype. The weather was perfect (I got to wear boots! Ha!) and the atmosphere was really incredible.

Moving on to 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

When Jason first bought this, I scoffed knowing he only chose the bottle because it’s from Dave Matthews’ collection of wines. Going in thinking I would hate it, 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 delicious! 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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