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!



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  1. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on September 29, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    I’m not a red wine fan but I love my whites and moscatos. So good!

  2. Ali on September 29, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    I don’t drink a lot but if I do, I LOVE wine from my home state – Wisconsin! 🙂 Door Peninsula Winery has the best fall wines: Hallowine (served warm!), Harvest Moon, and Witches Brew. Their Christmas wines and apple cranberry wines are amazing too. I also love a good hard cider since I have celiac and cannot drink beer. CiderBoys (also from WI!) make amazing cider. I think I need to move back north so I have these at my fingertips all the time. 🙂

  3. Erin on September 29, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Apothic red is my go to, and I also like the Alamos Malbec.
    I also really love Dreaming Tree Cabernet ($14)for more of a heavy red. For lighter red I’m always excited for the Beaujolais Neuveau (deboeuf $9) to come out before Thanksgiving!

  4. Sue on September 29, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    You MUST try Gnarly Head – Authentic Red. You won’t be disappointed.

  5. Paige @ Dimpled Inspiration on September 29, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    I LOVE Apothic red! I’m all about the red blends now, combining all the best flavors into a perfect glass. Cheers 🙂

    • Karen on September 30, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      Agreed! Apothem is an awesome inexpensive one. I’ve had way more expensive and not liked them as much.

  6. Vivian on September 29, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    We really like the Cocobon Red Blend. We don’t really drink at home, and are by no means experts; I just happened to pick it up on sale and we really like it. I think I’m going to head to Total Wine to pick up a couple of your recommendations.

  7. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on September 29, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Fun post! I love wine. One of my favorite inexpensive reds is Casillero el Diabolo which I discovered at Whole Foods recently. It’s a blend and incredibly good for the low price!

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      i’ve had that one; it’s delicious!

  8. Amanda @ Slimplify Life on September 29, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Red wine has my heart.

    My fave inexpensive red is Kenwood from Sonoma. I spent a period of time in Coronado and still kick myself for not making it up to Sonoma or Napa while I was on the West Coast!

  9. Hope on September 29, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I am a longtime reader who loves your workouts, recipes, life & fashion posts who doesn’t normally comment. However, after reading a post on delicious & inexpensive red wines, I have to say this is your best blog post yet! 😉 Pinned it and took notes!

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      haha awesome! thank you so much for reading and for saying hi 🙂

  10. Shanna Rogers on September 29, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Apothic is my favorite from the red wines I’ve tried so far!

    – Shanna

  11. Colleen on September 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Cannonball Cabernet is my favorite red, and I really like the 14 Hands Vineyard red blend. For whites, Cupcake Pinot Grigio is so crisp and refreshing!

  12. Rachel R on September 29, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    You have to try the Grifone Primitivo or Sangiovese! The Primitivo is my favorite but both are delicious and $5!

    • Rachel R on September 29, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      Whoops, from Trader Joe’s!

  13. Alicia on September 29, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Oh my, more wines to add to my list! Thank you

    Here are some of my favs. Most are between 10-15 where I am. Clearly a RED fan too 😉
    Trivento Malbec Reserve-fav
    Cupcake-Red Velvet
    Trumpeter Malbec & Malbec-Syrah
    Tilia Malbec
    Tortarossa Red cake

  14. RachelG on September 29, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    I LOVE the ménage a trois wine! For any CT bloggers, Sunset Meadows Winery in Goshen has the BEST red I’ve ever had. It’s called Route 63 and it will make your soul fly into the clouds (Gina, if you ever visit the nutmeg state it’s happening, lol). 🙂

  15. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on September 29, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Menage a Trois is my absolute favorite. i haven’t tried that flavor though. I need to look for that one!

  16. Alaina M. on September 29, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Citra! or any kind of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. Love my dry reds. 🙂

  17. jess t on September 29, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    lol, did you see this?!?!?

    i generally go for whites but i do enjoy a good red. i have eyed a few of the ones here and now that they have your seal of approval i’ll definitely have to give them a go.

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      YESSSSSS! just confirming what i already knew in my heart haha

  18. Katie @ Live Half Full on September 29, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    I have a square of dark chocolate or a nice truffle. Sometimes with wine. 🙂

    I love Trader Joe’s for wine- they carry this Chariot Gypsy wine I love and usually have a Bourdeaux for $9.99!

  19. Jennifer on September 29, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Enjoying some Fat Bastard merlot right now. 🙂 Has a hippo on the label. Lol Not sure how much it would be in the states.

  20. Cindy on September 29, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I’m a big fan of the Gnarly Head reds they are usually some where between $11-15 depending on where you go. I also like the Toasted Head reds. Hmm… Apparently I just like wines with the word “head” in them! 🙂

  21. Alex on September 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I notice a theme here 🙂 Menage a Trois for the win. We also enjoy that one in our house. We haven’t been lucky in finding it around here; we got our bottle at a vineyard. I’ll be sure to let you know if I find a national retail chain carrying it.
    My new favorite with this cooler weather is sipping on some hot lemon water in the evenings. Almond milk sounds yummy too.

  22. Lauren on September 29, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Rex Goliath is seriously the best cheap wine. I am a huge Cabernet fan and theirs is smooth and rich (and inexpensive)! Also love the Cocobon that Trader Joes carries as well 🙂

  23. Robin on September 29, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I don’t know if you can find it by you but my favorite everyday drinking red is Horse Haven Hills H3 Cabernet. Tastes much more expensive than it is (9.99). The past vintages have been a bit better but still a great QPR!!!!

  24. Carrie (This Fit Chick) on September 29, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    Love this round up! I prefer white over red, unless I’m eating steak of course! This will come in handy for my anniversary in a couple of weeks!

  25. Kelly @ Kelly Runs for Food on September 29, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Ooh I had to jump in on this conversation! I’m a big red wine lover and I also like the Apothic and Ravenswood wines. I like 7 deadly zins ($16), Trentatre from trader joe’s ($6.99!), and several of the Bogle vineyards wines. If you can find the Bogle phantom it’s amazing!

  26. Christa @ on September 29, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Jam jar is what first got me into red wine!

    I’m a big Pino Noir fan…my fav is Mirassou’s Pino noir (usually $9). It’s light and delicious!

  27. Chicago Jogger on September 29, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Great list! The Alamo Malbec is one of my favorites 🙂

  28. shaina on September 29, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    all the wines on your list haha, plus Estancia Pinot Noir. Oh and La Crema Pinot too. Nomnom.

  29. Nikki @ will run for pizza on September 29, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    love the apothic red blend! I started off on sweet, white wines, but I’ve now upgraded to the red blends. I like to try new ones all the time.

  30. Becky @ on September 30, 2014 at 1:41 am

    I’m all about the red blends. I love Apothic and Dearly Beloved. 689 is a good one also.

  31. Ana B. on September 30, 2014 at 5:03 am

    The red wine is definitely better than the white sort, but be careful with the drinks! They create dependence and then… you know. 🙂

  32. lindsay on September 30, 2014 at 7:05 am

    these are all my fav too! and kim crawford Pinot Noir.. when its on sale. hehe

  33. nicole on September 30, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Mark West Pinot Noir!! Around $12 and worth every penny.

  34. Sara on September 30, 2014 at 7:32 am

    I’ll have to try some of these the only one I’ve had is the Apothic red,which I agree is very good. We also like Dancing Bull Zinfindel, Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfindel, and I also like the black box Cabernet.

  35. Racheal @ Running with Racheal on September 30, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I love Apothic Red Blend, but my new fave is Gnarly Head red blend. So, so good!

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      i think i saw that at target yesterday! will need to pick some up 🙂

  36. Vicki on September 30, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I love Bogle as well, or any Duckhorn red. Also the MacRostie Pinot from Costco. I just got back from Italy and discovered Montalcino, so I’ve been buying that up and it’s fabulous.

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      i’m excited to try that! thank you!

      • Vicki on September 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm

        Your welcome 🙂 and I need to try the Apothic!

  37. Rhiannon @ Bound to be a Buckeye on September 30, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Chateau Ste. Michelle is my favorite, especially as a little treat throughout the week. The Cab is good, but the Merlot is my favorite. We were fortunate enough to visit the winery in Washington State and it was an amazing experience! When we go out for dinner and want to spend a little more we go for Duckhorn.

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      oh i will look for those!

  38. Domi @ Eat, Pray, Lift on September 30, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Ooooh cheap wine is my sweet spot! 😉 I’ve had the Menage a Trois and it’s so good…and I’ll take just about any malbec when I’m in the mood for sweetness.. When I went wine tasting in Temecula, I had this ruby port that was – by far – the best dessert wine I’ve ever tasted, even though sweet wines are NOT usually my favorite.

    If we’re totally honest, though, I’d take whiskey over wine every time. But cheap wine is better for my budget than whiskey haha 😉

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      hahah you and the pilot would get along 🙂 he’s a whiskey fan too

  39. Chrissy @ Pink Polish and Running Shoes on September 30, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Love. You had me at cheap red wine 🙂

  40. Janna on September 30, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Love this post! And love that picture. Ha. It sounds like you like red blends like me!

    Not sure if anyone up there mentioned Cupcake Red Velvet, but it is definitely my favorite red blend.

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      i love that one, too!

  41. Samantha B. @ Healthy Huggy Happy on September 30, 2014 at 10:56 am

    You nailed it with this list! I am the same way with wine- if it’s red, I drink it- but have definitely noticed red blends seem to be the way to go with cheaper wine. I have been a long time fan of Menage a Trois, but didn’t try the Midnight version until I saw you post it recently. It is SO GOOD. I also love Apothic and Layer Cake Shiraz. If you can find it, you should definitely try Save Me San Francisco- Drops of Jupiter. The band “Train” founded this company and all their wines are good, but Drops of Jupiter- a red blend- is seriously to die for. It’s usually around $15 when I can find it. I had it at my wedding, that’s how much I love it!

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      ohhhh i will look for that!

  42. Jen on September 30, 2014 at 11:44 am

    It’s like we have the exact same taste in red wines 🙂

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      wine twins *high five*

  43. Laura on September 30, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Haha, I drink ALL of these! I first discovered Jam Jar a few years ago and have been obsessed ever since. Now that my wine palate has “evolved” a bit as well, I don’t get it as often as it can feel too sweet for an evening glass, I love it as a treat and it’s great chilled in summer!

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      it tastes like candy haha

      • Laura on September 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm

        It totally does! The first time I tried it, I remember thinking, CAN THIS BE REAL WINE? IS THIS WHAT BEING AN ADULT MEANS??? Pure bliss 😀

  44. Leslie on September 30, 2014 at 11:56 am

    I don’t know why but I favor red wines more in the fall and winter. The second one looks interesting, I think i’ll have to find it. Thanks for sharing!

  45. Karin on September 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    I love the Horse Heaven Hills (H3) wines from Columbia Crest, particularly the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. They’re usually $9-10 at Costco, and $15-ish elsewhere. Costco is actually a great place to get good prices on wine, and you don’t have to commit to a whole case or anything.

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      totally agree; it’s one of my favorite places to get wine. they have a great variety, too! i’ll look for the one you mentioned

  46. Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat on September 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Mmm some good recommendations! I love love love wine. I’m not fancy I only know specifically what to ask for when it comes to chardonnay, I used to steer away from reds after growing up with my parents drinking the gallon variety merlot…but last year a friend turned me onto reds and nothing better than a cozy fall/winter evening with a glass!

    • Fitnessista on September 30, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      couldn’t agree more! perfect at night 🙂

  47. april on September 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    i’m a pretty big fan of most reds, too. i second your layer cake shiraz suggestion! i’ve tried a few other varieties from layer cake (both red and white) and haved loved them all. my friend and i once splurged on a really tasty pinot noir from whole foods (i think it was casa barranca) and it was one of my favorite bottles ever – definitely a nice treat! 🙂

  48. Jennifer L. on September 30, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I love this post! I’d love to read more posts like this. I prefer white wine, but do drink red, if it’s sweet (not of huge fan of dry red wine). I have a favorite white wine – which I know is not a red! lol My favorite White is Chateau St. Michelle Reisling – delicious!

  49. Alana on September 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    can’t wait to try out some of the faves from your list and from the other commentors! my red go-to is Malbec–love alamos and norton reserva.

  50. Abby on September 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I’m in Florida – you remember Florida – haha and I tried the Midnight after you mentioned it a little while ago. I think it is my new favorite. I found it at Walmart after checking a few other places for $8.97

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