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Frugal Red Wines

When browsing the aisles for wine, it’s easy to get lost and pick a dud.  When I was younger, I presumed that lower price meant inferior wine and higher price meant a superior wine.    I’m no sommelier but I can tell you I’ve done a lot of “research” on this topic (it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it!) and I’ve found that wine pricing is not always based on quality.  Good deals can be found if you know where to look!  It’s totally possible to get a wine that tastes like it costs $40, for under $10.  Let me show you how.  

Factors That Affect Wine Pricing

Price of Making the Wine

The processes used to ferment the grapes can vary widely. Wine aged in oak barrels are more expensive because they have a lot more overhead.  In comparison, wine aged in stainless steel tanks are less expensive.  Wine aged longer is usually more expensive.  But, some years are better than others.  The packaging of the wine can also vary the price- fancier labels and corks add to the cost of making the wine.

The Region

The same set of grapes are generally used worldwide to make wine.  However, where those grapes are grown can vary the price. For example, I love left bank Bordeaux- wine produced on the left side of the Geronde Estuary in the Bordeaux region of France.  These wines have a majority cabernet sauvignon component and some added French “je ne sais quoi.”  But, the same grapes are used in much more economical California cabs. 

Another grape I love is Mouvedre, the heftier cousin to the cabernet sauvginon.  The mouvedre grape is a major component of the wine from the Chateauneuf du pape region of France.  This wine is AMAZING but also amazingly pricey. Prices vary from $50/bottle to $1500/bottle. Part of the reason the prices on these wines are so high is the AOC regulations and permits are expensive and make it very difficult for these vineyards to “belong” to the region.  

So, to get the same taste for a lower price, I prefer to go with wines that advertise the grape “Monastrell” which is the alternate name for the Mouvedre grape. These gems are being grown in Spain right now and are super undervalued- you can get bottles close to $10.  So if you like the deep, dark rich taste of Mourvedre from France, you can get the same taste out of the same grapes from Spain for MUCH less. Several of my favorites below are made from the mouvedre grape.

The Middlemen

If we bought from the vineyard, the wine would likely be cheapest.  Anytime you have to ship the wine and pay another store or restaurant, the price creeps up.  Some wholesalers pride themselves on providing the most frugal pricing.  That’s where I go.


Some of the price of wine is determined by demand.  If a wine gets a good review from Wine Enthusiast or a 90+ rating from Wine Spectator, it will often be priced higher.  So, I’m not helping keep my favorite wines frugal by spreading the word here, but oh well.  Enjoy these prices while they last!

The Frugal Physician's Favorite Frugal Red Wines

So, without further adieu, here are some of my favorite red wines, their prices, and their reviews.   I tend to like  earthy, full bodied reds, so these are heavy hitting in that category.  If you like cabernet sauvignons, you’ll love these.  These wines could easily be priced at $20- $40, but they’re still around $10 right now.  Grab one of these bottles for your next house party, and you’ll be a hit. 

If you click in the picture, it will take you to  I have also included a link to my local wine warehouse, Empire Wine, which I like to support.  If you’re interested in shipping some wines, they do have “Ship 12 for free” deals on some of these wines.  I do not have affiliate deals with either retailer.  

Average Price: $11


This one consistently surprises me by how good it is.

Wine Advocate 93 “This is very elegant, floral, fresh and mineral, a lot more serious than the price suggests. It’s harmonious, with very fine, chalky tannins and feels very much like a $40 bottle of red. Grab it!”

Jeff Carrell Les Darons Languedoc

Average Price: $13


A solid table wine.

Jeb Dunnuck 91-93 “The 2017 Languedoc Les Darons is made from 75% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 5% Carignan that’s mostly from older vines in the Minervois. It saw a touch of whole clusters in the fermentersand is still aging all in concrete tanks. It’s deep purple (almost inky) and offers a sensational perfume of blueberries, blackberries, licorice, ground pepper, and earth. Deep, full-bodied, beautifully concentrated, and long, it shows the purity and sexiness of the 2017 vintage and is going to be a killer value.”

Bodegas Ego 'Fuerza'

Average Price: $11


I love this one for an evening of curling up on the couch.

Gilbert & Gaillard

“Expressive nose intermixing dark fruits, coffee, cocoa, a subtle smoke note, spice and ink. Fresh attack followed by more of the spice and refined, elegant oak on the palate. Superb structure and well-balanced fruity accents. Persistent finish.”

Wine Spectator ’90’

“Firm and polished, this red delivers cherry and red plum flavors backed by cocoa and mineral notes. Solid tannins are freshened by lively acidity. Structured and expressive. Drink now through 2025. 12,500 cases made.”

Casa Santos Lima Colossal Reserva

Average Price: $13


A solid value.

Wine Spectator 90

” Plum and boysenberry notes weave together with dried herb and smoky mineral accents in this sleek red. Savory spice details chime in on the finish. Offers moderate, grippy tannins. Drink now through 2020. “

Vina Ventisquero "Root 1" Cabernet Sauvignon

Average Price: $10


One of my long time favorites.

Winery Notes

“Deep garnet in color with bright reflections. Aromas of ripe berries, cassis, plum and dark cherry, followed by light toast notes. Juicy red berry and mocha flavors with a full-bodied structure, balanced by smooth tannins and a lengthy finish. Freshness with notes of fruit on the back.” 

Average Price: $15


I saved the best for last.  This one is becoming popular fast so the price is creeping up. 

Wine Spectator 91

“This bold red is intense and expressive. Cassis and blueberry flavors mingle with cola, cocoa and licorice notes. Chewy tannins and balsamic acidity amplify the impact. Heady, ripe and in the modern style. Monastrell. Drink now through 2024.”

Cheers my friends!  If you try some of these out, write me and tell me what you think!

Stay Frugal,


Standard Disclaimer: Not meant as personalized financial or medical advice.  Images from, global rakuten, and            


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