Best Inexpensive Red Wine

Now that I’m back from my detox -we say “detox” but we all know I had chocolate and caffeine in my backpack- there were a couple of things I was excited to have back in my life after time away.

#1: the nightly glass of red wine.

wine and TV

I have a glass after dinner most nights, and it’s like a glorious ending to the day. The Pilot and I will enjoy a glass and watch TV or chat, and it’s become an evening ritual. The wine is also like my “dessert,” and I rarely get the nighttime munchies.

I usually post a glass here or there on the blog, or during my virtual wine date posts, and am always asked about my favorite inexpensive red wines. It’s good to keep the cost down when drinking it everyday!

Here’s the thing: I really don’t discriminate. If it’s red, I’ll drink it, and there’s a 90% chance I will like it.

Over time though, my wine senses have developed a little bit, and I have discovered some delightful reds.

Fave inexpensive red wines

Here are my favorite everyday red wines, in no particular order.

(Note: I had to Google for the specific flavor notes. Otherwise I would have been like “this one is good,”this one is good, too” and “this one tastes like.. good wine…”)

Roses are red, wine is also red, poems are hard. wine.


Best Inexpensive Red Wine

Apothic red blend (2012): a California red blend (of Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) with notes of plum, blackberry, spice and vanilla ($10). This has been the standard for the past year or so, and I love the light sweetness. It has almost no bite at all.

Ménage à Trois midnight, dark red blend (2013): a dark and luscious blend (of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah and Petit Verdot), with blackberry, spiced plum and mocha notes. This actually may be my very favorite wine, but’s tricky to find! I got some at Baron’s (which is similar to Sprout’s) in San Diego for about $13.

Menage a Trois Midnight

Dearly Beloved – I Thee Red, red blend (2011): this is another smooth and delicious red blend (of Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc). It has a vibrant flavor with notes of cherry, plum, spice, and anise. This is particularly amazing with a hearty bolognese pasta. Around $10.

Dearly Beloved - I thee red wine

Jam Jar Shiraz: this wine tastes like candy. It’s almost like a dessert wine -very sweet- and tastes amazing. If you’re newer to the red wine world and want to start with something sweeter, I highly recommend this one. This lovely wine is bursting with berry flavors and has chocolate undertones (yes, please). Usually it’s around $15 at Whole Foods.

Jam Jar and a beer

Layer Cake Shiraz (2012): this South Australian wine has the flavor of dark berries and chocolate ganache. I don’t buy this one as frequently -I think because I’m always trying to switch it up- but it’s an old favorite. Usually around $12 at Trader Joe’s.

Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel: has raspberry and cocoa flavors, but a bit of a “tang” to it from the alcohol. It’s not one of the smoothest wines, but I find that it pairs nicely with a cheese board and appetizers.

Alamos Malbec (2013): this is another all-time fave, and one that I’ll occasionally order at restaurants. This one is primarily Malbec, but has small portions of Syrah and Bonarda for berry flavor. It has also has spice notes and vanilla, and it’s a beautiful wine for an evening treat. $9-12, depending where you find it (Walgreen’s and Trader Joe’s both carry this one).

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon (2011): this is a smooth wine, with flavors of clack cherry and oak. It’s usually around $16 at Trader Joe’s.

Fellow wine lovers, what’s your favorite inexpensive one?

Non-wine friends, is there’s something you like the enjoy at the end of the day? I love hot tea at night, and now that fall is here, I love to steep mint tea in warm almond milk (or chocolate almond milk) and add a little stevia.

Enjoy the rest of the day!



Post Navigation:


  1. Tracy on September 30, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I love love a cup of herbal tea at night! My favorites are the holiday teas from Celestial Seasonings… especially candy cane lane and sugar cookie sleigh ride (also the TJs versions of these teas). I stock up each year and make them last as long as possible!!

  2. Emily @esquaredsouth on September 30, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Hands down, my favorite wine is Yellow Tail Moscato. The “big bottle” is only around $17, while the standard size bottle is $7-10, and can be found pretty much anywhere (except the closest wine/liquor store near me, of course). It might be slightly embarrassing how quickly I can drink a bottle…by myself.

    Love your recommendations too! I’ll be on the lookout for some of them. And as a side note, my husband and I are in a wine group and I am completely lost when they start talking about the different “notes” and “undertones”. I have this blank stare on my face and wonder what everyone is tasting that I am not. Perhaps I should drink more…you know, kind of like getting better with more experience. 🙂

  3. Sne on September 30, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    You should try Eppa Wines..I tried it for the first time this summer and in love. It’s actually a Sangria and comes in both Red & White varities, but they are made with organic fruit. In Chicago, its usually between $10-$12/bottle.

    • Erika S. on September 30, 2014 at 4:21 pm

      oh…that Eppa Red Sangria is delish…!!!! I can usually find it at Whole Foods for around $13-15.

      • sne on September 30, 2014 at 6:46 pm

        The red definitely rates better than white in my book. Another good one is hot rod cherry wine by peninsula cellars. They have really great wines and are located in upper michigan.

  4. Shelby R on September 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    I pretty much drink all the same wines as you : ) Apothic is definitely at the top of my list. I also found another blend at Trader Joe’s called Cocobon which was pretty delicious.

  5. Meg on September 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Rodney Strong Cabernet and Alamos Malbec are BIG favorites at my house. We also really enjoy Fog Bank Merlot and Twisted Vines Cabernet. Twisted Vines tastes so rich, like Rodney Strong.

    Now I’m craving a glass!

    xo Meg

  6. Paula on September 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    That Jam Jar shiraz is my…well, my jam, and I had totally forgotten about it! I also love a good Barbera d’Asti, but they can be tricky to find; and the cheap version from Trader Joe’s is NOT worth the lower price tag!

    • Liz on May 28, 2017 at 12:22 pm

      Love jam jar! Got it as a Christmas gift and I’m hooked! Can’t find another red I like better, any suggestions?

  7. Shira on September 30, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    I love Apothic and Ravenswood!! 2 of my go-to’s. I am Canadian and surprised to recognize any brands 😉 I like light red Italian wines like Valpocella and Sangiovese, and my alllll time fav is an Amarone. Strong but so smooth and flavourful. I drink white too and enjoy Stonliegh or Masi Sauv Blanc, ice cold. I used to have a nightly glass, have tried not to because I was worried about the calories/sugar.. but I do find myself more ‘munchy’ without it. Funny how that works. I do like my dessert though too!

  8. Erika S. on September 30, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I found that I love the 2012 wines way more than their newer 2013 counterparts. That said, I’ll still drink up. So here are a few of my faves:

    2012 Jeunesse Cabernet Sauvignon (by far my absolute fave…!!!) It’s very hard to find as most places now have the 2013 but it’s a bit on the sweeter side and just dreamy! Approx $13.

    Josef Handler’s Sweet Red (Trader Joes)…only $5.49 and is always a hit!

    La Granga Tempranillo (the Zebra one) from Trader Joes…I use this primarily for Sangria…and it’s just $3.99!! I have an awesome glass pitcher from Pier 1 that holds over 2 bottles of wine and is perfect for sangria!

    BTW…I totally didn’t get a chance to watch Scandal’s premiere drinking from my Camille C&B wine glasses…but it’s def happening this Thursday!

  9. Kristine on September 30, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Ravenswood Vintner’s Cuvee is a favorite as is Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin. Both are under $15 at Trader Joe’s and both are big favorites in our wine-loving household. Ravenswood is one of my favorite Sonoma wineries – most of their wine is only available at the winery and it’s so, so good! Bonus – big pours! 🙂

  10. char eats greens on September 30, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    OMG, thank you for saying that you have a glass every night. I pretty much do this too! Except we’ve falling victim to organic wines and they can be expensive. Although our fave right now is only $14 and a whopping 15% alchy. Let’s just say that I feel great after one glass! haha

  11. Nicole @ Fitful Focus on September 30, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    First of all, love the little wine poem meme – so funny! As for cheap wines, I’m all about them! I like Cupcake Merlot – but the best wine I EVER had was 3 Euros in Italy. Unfortunately, I can’t find it in the US, but it still stands as the best wine, better than the expensive stuff!

  12. Kathy on September 30, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Gina! I seem to have the same red wine taste as you and many here so…if you like Apothic Red and Menage a Trios Midnight, you MUST try Apothic Dark! It’s a seasonal. I found it at Sam’s Club a few weeks ago. It will only be out for the fall allegedly. Here is more info (which I also had to Google)

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      I CAN’T FIND IT. when i do, i will stock up! 🙂

      • Kathy on September 30, 2014 at 7:15 pm

        Oh no! Wish I could send you some!

    • Susana Gutierrez on August 19, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Apothic Dark Red Blend. OMG, please stock up. makes your tongue and teeth purple for a few hours until you brush but totally worth it. problem is that once you get used to it, everything and I mean everything, seems bland after. WOW! delish. Can’t wait to stock up this year.

  13. Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs on September 30, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Our favourite wines are California Zinfandels — in particular Ravenswood and Gnarly Head. Yuuuuuummmmmm! 🙂

  14. Crystal on September 30, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    I will drink almost any wine, cheap or expensive, but I have to say that after visiting some wineries in Napa, I do have some appreciation for “really good” wine now. My favorite wine ever is Peju Cabernet, but it’s $50 a bottle! So those are saved for special occasions, ha! Other than that, I don’t have many favorites–but my husband and I love to visit local wineries when traveling 🙂

    I love your idea of steeping tea in almond milk–I will most definitely be trying some Christmas tea and milk this winter!

    • milania dela cruz on November 11, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      Peju Province is one of my best gf’s family owned winery :)) She’s one of the daughters, Ariana. and yes, their wine is amazzzzinggg. you must try some gina.

  15. Noelle @ The Rebel Manifesto on September 30, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I’m a sucker for packaging – I love the Dearly Beloved bottle! I will have to give it a try!

  16. Elyse on September 30, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    You should head south to Temecula for wine tasting! I have a feeling you will become obsessed with Ponte Winery’s Beverino 🙂 Red, a little bit sweet, and delicious!

  17. Karissa on September 30, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Ha ha ha that meme is so awesome, I found it back at Valentine’s Day and laughed for weeks! I normally do some good herbal tea at the end of the day – my husband is a WIZARD with making loose leaf tea.

  18. Nicole on October 1, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I really like Beaujolais-Villages by Maison Louis Jadot (2011 and 2012): Sounds fancy but is well priced at $13.99 (I’ve found it for $10 out here in the NY/NJ area). It’s very fruit-forward and juicy–a great option for people who don’t like super strong/powerful reds.

    • Fitnessista on October 1, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      ohhhh i will be on the lookout!

  19. Megan A. on October 1, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Manyana Tempranillo is by far my favorite. It’s about $6-8 a bottle in WI. It’s lighter red, not sweet, but has the most delicious strawberry flavor.

  20. Meredith on October 2, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Rex Goliath!!!!! So good and SO CHEAP!

    • Molly on November 10, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Yes!!!! Rex Goliath is our “house wine”

  21. AJ on October 2, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Love Jam Jar! You have to try Flirt! First, you will love the label, then you will love the wine itself. Super cheap…like $8 at my local store.

    • Fitnessista on October 2, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      i will look for it!!

  22. Jessica on October 2, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Some of these are faves of mine as well! A few other faves:
    -You really can’t go wrong with a two-buck chuck cab from TJ’s. It’s just easy to drink and so cheap!
    -Also, TJ’s has a Syrah without a name — it just has a giant yellow smiley face on the bottle and is delish! $5.99 I think?
    -The Flip Flop brand of wine is pretty good Cabernet is pretty good, and I LOVE their pinot grigio for a white wine night
    -Gnarly Head zinfandel or Malbec (usually $8-9)
    -Cellar No. 8 red blend

    I could go on and on…

  23. sandy on October 3, 2014 at 12:28 am

    last night had an awesome red kosher organic wine at one of my favorite restaurants Cafe Gratitude (L.A.)! super clean, fresh and fruity

  24. Jessica @ Pilates Happy Hour on October 3, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Hey! Wine is my favorite topic 🙂 I agree with Nicole, that Louis Jadot Beaujolais is really good. I also love Mark West Pinot Noir for a reliable inexpensive red. Easy to find!

    • JennP on October 5, 2014 at 11:49 pm

      Mark West Pinot Noir is my “go to”! White Mountain and Blue Fin Pinot’s from Trader Joe’s are great too 🙂

  25. Sana on October 5, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    This is a great list! I am bookmarking this post 🙂 I am not a fan of red wine because I always find it really heavy and don’t enjoy feeling full from it. The jam jar wine sounds interesting though and I will try it. I prefer white wine to red wine because I find it lighter.

    As for enjoying something at night, I love chamomile tea!

    • Liz on May 28, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Love jam jar! Got it as a Christmas gift and I’m hooked! Can’t find another red I like better, any suggestions?

  26. Emily on October 14, 2014 at 9:51 am

    This post is totally awesome. Ravenswood wines are definitely my favorite under-$20 bottles. Have you ever visited their tasting room? My husband and I know their founder/head winemaker really well. Shoot me a note if you ever come up to wine country and want to visit 🙂

  27. Reenie on November 14, 2014 at 8:21 am

    My fav Cabs are: Cupcake & Carnivor

    • Fitnessista on November 14, 2014 at 8:32 am

      i recently tried carnivor and LOVED it!

  28. Angela on February 18, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Apothic is #1! 19 crimes is another fave! The target box wine in table red is awesome for a crowd! They have small samples that equal 3 glasses. I tried this first and it’s great!!

  29. Ashley on February 19, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Have you tried Cupcakes brand? It’s called Red Velvet – it’s a red wine blend and oh so good!! 🙂 also, loved your postpartum post!

  30. Brittany on April 25, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Very informative! In turning 21 in less than three months and I love wine so I can’t wait to go buy some of these!

  31. Jacqueline on April 25, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    YES, I love that “I Thee Red” one! I tried a bottle the other day, then went back and bought three more to have on hand hahaha. My boyfriend likes lighter, fruity wines and I like those “heavier” ones, and we can both agree on this one. Another favorite is Lazy Bones Cabernet Franc– for those who like dry-er, less fruity wines. But I’m like you– if it’s red I will drink it!

    • Fitnessista on April 26, 2016 at 9:43 pm

      oh, i will look for that one!

      • Jacqueline on April 26, 2016 at 9:47 pm

        Trader Jooooooe’s!

        • Fitnessista on April 27, 2016 at 2:45 pm

          i’m on it!

  32. Sharon on September 13, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Great list . Some of those wines are grown in my hood . You might like Micheal David 7 deadly Zins or Bogle Essentiial red as good value priced wines . Both are available at Costco and TJ’s. We are thick in harvest now in Lodi . My favorite boutique winery in Lodi is the family owned Harney Lane . Their 100 year old vine zin is just sunshine and happiness in a glass

    • Fitnessista on September 13, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      we’ve tried 7 deadly zins and love it! i will look for bogle essential- thank you!

  33. SHANELLE on October 29, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Here’s my list:
    *14 Hands Hot to Trot Red blend (DELICIOUS)
    *APOTHIC DARK(deep), INFERNO(spicy,woodsy) AND CRUSH(smooth,slightly sweet) (All red blends)
    *MENAGE A TROIS MIDNIGHT(deep) AND SILK(smooth,slightly sweet)

    • Fitnessista on October 29, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      i love all of these, too!! we have very similar tastes 🙂

  34. Suzanne on November 11, 2016 at 12:15 am

    I love Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon 🙂 great post and very timely 😉

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.