Yes, there is such a thing as a wine that is too cheap!
Hence, finding a wine that fits your budget can be a frustrating and, quite frankly, intimidating experience. You can stand at the shelves for what seems like forever and just not know where to start. Particularly if you buy your wines from the supermarket aisles and you have already tried the ‘own brand’ labels. Unfortunately, these wines can be rather hit and miss in quality even though they fulfil the ‘cheap wine’ criteria.
As someone who is similarly budget constrained, I feel your pain. To help lessen that pain though, I will be publish my tips for buying ‘better’ wines for less, not just ‘cheap’, next month.
Until then, here are ten wines under a tenner that are well worth seeking out. They range from being ‘cheap and cheerful’ wine to those offering outstanding value.
Some might only be available in your area on-line. I have tried to include some that should be available in your local UK wine seller or your supermarket.
White wine (including a ‘cheap and cheerful’)
Waitrose Italian Dry White Crisp Floral Wine
Sometimes you are in the mood for something easy and just plain fun!!
This wine suits the occasion very well and I have found myself reaching for another glass. A glass that is awash with aromas of pretty white flowers, ripe red apple and grapefruit. Fresh and fruity. It is a wine that lightly enters the mouth. This lightness is deceptive though as there is a satisfying intensity. When combined with a crisp zippy acid, those fruity flavours last long enough to enjoy.
This wine definitely qualifies as ‘cheap and cheerful’. Pour this on a warm day with lunch or as friends turn up and it will prove popular. If only all wines at sub £5 worked this hard for their price tag! £4.99 (Waitrose own label)
Each vintage, this wine delivers zing to your glass. This is always a cleverly crafted dry, white wine and you get a whole lot of value in that glass. Yalumba have established themselves as the Australian champions of this grape and this is just one version amongst a storybook full of viognier expressions from the Hill-Smith family.
The ripe juicy apricot personality of this wine has some riper orange peel notes, and a lift of white pepper and floral perfume. And it is a richly perfumed nose – attractive and evocative. It is fuller in body, as you might expect, and is kept fresh with some crisp, sometimes crunchy, acid. This evenly textured Viognier makes for an elegant mouthful. £10
Stellenrust Stellenbosch Manor Chenin Blanc
Stellenrust has grown into one of the largest family owned wine estates in South Africa since it was first started in 1928. This wine is from the Stellenbosch region. A region that is known for its fine expressions of Chenin blanc with a distinctive South African accent – ripe and round.
Rounded and fresh, this Chenin has been fermented with native yeasts to give it some extra complexity. There is a savoury spiced finish to the fresh apple, nectarine and pineapple fruit notes. While it is crisp, it has soft lush curves. It is a tasty wine for the price and very easy to enjoy a glass before dinner after a long day whatever the weather or to drink with spiced chicken or fish. £9
It is often overlooked that, as a Bordelais grape, Bordeaux is an excellent source of Sauvignon Blanc in any of its guises. This is a wine that keeps freshness and balance at its heart and makes some of the more modern sauvignon blancs from the new world look overblown in comparison.
The generous apple, peach and orange peelfruit benefits from a whiff of lemon balm and palate takes on a green apple crunch. It is a dry, crisp and zesty white wine that has plenty of fruit on offer. Therefore, it certainly qualifies as a good everyday quaffer. Serve it with some fresh seafood, some grilled fish or soft white cheese like ripened brie and you will see smiles all round. £9.5
Not just an accessory for summer. Rose/rosado/rosato or pink wine in any accent, when carefully made, is a wine for sharing with friends, enjoying with food or just enjoying while you are winding down for the day. And this rosado has been made with food in mind. It is a tempranillo dominant blend where this prima donna Spanish red grape leads and garnacha follows.
This is fuller bodied, dry pink that glides smoothly like silk across the palate but finishes with a crisp freshness. There is not just strawberry, cherry and peach to be found here, but also some delightful spice. Textural rosados like this match well with tapas, or lightly spiced grilled chicken or seared tuna. £10
Affordable sparkling wine
Aldi Valdobbiadene Extra Dry Prosecco
Aldi has quite the reputation for quality prosecco at lower prices. Like this one, they do tend to fall into the Extra Dry sweetness level which means that it is extra fruity with a sugar level between 12-17g/Litre.
It is a glassful of peach and lemon flavours with a mineral backbone. When you have that first sip of this prosecco, it is soft, crisp and finishes with a floral flourish. That does not mean that you should restrict it to summer drinking, this has enough complexity going on to be a good aperitif or a fun party companion any time of the year. £8
Keenly priced red wine
Burlesque Old Vine Zinfandel
Zinfandel is usually the domain for big red lovers who chase that sweet, ripe fruit from California. The grape is capable of high alcohol and large proportions. This Zinfandel from the Lodi region in California is ripe. However, it has been styled for immediate enjoyment. As a result, it is not overly bold or high octane.
The cherry and blackcurrant perfume of this zin is very prettily enriched with exotic spices, tobacco, chocolate coated liquorice and violet. It has plenty of fruit weight and is lush & juicy with soft tannins & pepper lifting the dark fruit. A versatile red that will shine with an easy mid-week dinner or Sunday lunch. £9.5
Sitting amongst De Bortoli’s extensive wine range is the Down the Lane Shiraz Tempranillo. They are a family who certainly know how to produce wines that overdeliver on pleasure for the price you pay. This spicy red hails from Heathcote and is ripe and lush. There is also an interesting Pinot Grigio Arneis blend and a Gris de Gris Rosé.
There is plenty of sweet and spicy cherry, raspberry love in this bottle. It is well made with some balancing residual sugar (6 gram/litre) to flesh out the medium bodied, ripe fruit. It is unashamedly a crowd pleaser that will win you friends at your next BBQ. You could even chill it lightly. £8.5
A pretty blend of Montepulciano and Aglianico from the Molise DOC of Biferno. Biferno is a tiny appellation in Italy’s second smallest region, Molise. The Molise region neighbours Abruzzo which is renowned for its Montepulciano. Aglianico is perhaps better known from Campania and Basilicata.
The hint of rose petal, raspberry, cherry with a mushroom savoury edge will win you over every time. It is an easy drinker with a soft, velvety mouthful of creamy oak. Above all, although not strictly in the ‘cheap and cheerful’ wine category, it is a real bargain for the price. A new go-to red that is seriously good! £10
Il Cascinone Barbera has captured the amiability of this grape. While Barbera takes on many expressions throughout the world, its home is in these steep Acqui Terme hills in Piedmonte. The original Il Cascinone vineyards were planted in the 1920s. By the end of the century these vineyards had fallen into disrepair. Araldica Group took them on and they now back in full swing producing wines that are immediately enjoyable in nature.
This is a ripe and rich fruited expression of the grape. It has a generous fuller bodied soul of black cherry wrapped in chocolate and spice. A good wine for cool weather, sitting around a fire with some company. Alternatively, you can take it to the dinner table and enjoy it with wild boar or venison sausages served with truffled mash. A beef and ale pie would be just as good. £10
Here is a bonus wine: Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz