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10 of the Best Cheap Wines That Still Taste Good

I drink cheap wine out of fancy glasses whilst tearing it up in the kitchen and concurrently spouting off at the mouth about politics.

Being on a budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste or quality!

Being on a budget doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste or quality!

Trust Me, I Know Cheap Wine

If you've meandered through the booze section of your local supermarket or stumbled through the wine aisle of the liquor store down the street (you walked there, of course, because you don't drink and drive), you may have noticed that selecting a good wine can be a daunting task. Maybe you even picked up a few bottles to read the back label, but then thought to yourself, "Pairs well with chicken, but does it taste good?"

Unfortunately, I don't think vintners will be labeling their wine with, "This red is absolutely awful and will give you a killer wine headache in the morning," but hopefully by the end of this article you will feel a little more confident about selecting a yummy tasting wine. The best part of it is that you won't have to fork over a day's pay to get good wine.

I know wine connoisseurs will tell you that there is a lot that goes into a bottle of good wine. Well, I don't really know much about the specifics of wine tasting, but I happen to have a very discerning palate. Furthermore, as a single mom, a "starving" college kid, and a wine lover, I know good, cheap wine! The one rule I stick by is: Don't be afraid to try cheap wine. I've been happier with a $3 bottle of wine than a $30 bottle.

Here is a list, not necessarily in order of preference, of 10 of my favorite cheap wines:

1. Lambrusco

This is a cold, somewhat sweet wine with carbonation in it. Remember when you were a kid and somebody would make a punch with lemon-lime soda and fruit punch? This wine goes down just as easy and is absolutely delicious. I have never met anyone who hasn't liked it, and, in fact, most of my friends become Lambrusco addicts after I introduce them to it. I'm still working on a 12-step treatment program for that, but they're not complaining! You can pick up a big bottle of this for around $7.

2. Winking Owl Cabernet Sauvignon

The Winking Owl wines can be found exclusively at Aldi. I'm in no way affiliated with Winking Owl or Aldi, but I might consider an endorsement if they offered me a lifetime supply of this tasty wine. If you like the slightly dry, sweet flavor of cabernet sauvignon, you must try this brand. It is the smoothest cab I've ever had, and, at $2.99 a bottle, you cannot beat the price.

3. Winking Owl Chardonnay

If you're a chardonnay fan or you just want to mix it up every once in a while and try a cold white like I do sometimes, this is a great chardonnay. It's not too sweet, not too dry, and wonderfully flavorful. Best of all, it has never given me a headache the next morning. This wine is also available at Aldi for the low, low price of $2.99. I mean, c'mon, you could probably find that by flipping the couch cushions. Go try this one!

4. Gluhwein

Say it with me, "Glue-Vine." This is a winter wine that is served hot and is wildly popular in Germany. Germans love their outdoor winter fests, and how better to keep warm than a nice warm cup of mulled wine flavored with cinnamon, sugar, and cloves? Aldi imports a great gluhwein that, like the Winking Owl line, is very inexpensive. It's usually only available during winter, but, if you find yourself in love with gluhwein and unable to find it in stores, you can make your own by heating a cheap red (cabernet sauvignon and merlot are my faves) in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cinnamon, cloves, and sugar to taste.

5. Franzia Cabernet Sauvignon

Oh, sweet boxed wine. This is a very decent cab. If you're afraid of or have turned up your nose at boxed wine, then you're missing out. Some make the argument that boxed wine is the way to go because the inner bag keeps the air out, which is said to taint wine, and, because most of the packaging is recyclable, it's environmentally friendly. Woohoo, let's drink to the planet!

You'll have to open yourself up to trying new things if you want to find the best cheap wines.

You'll have to open yourself up to trying new things if you want to find the best cheap wines.

6. Vendange Cabernet Sauvignon

By this point, you may have guessed that I am partial to cab. You would be correct; it is my favorite. If it had a phone number, it would be in my top five. Vendange cab is tasty and cheap. The large bottle, which boasts eight glasses of wine (six if you pour a glass of wine the way I do), can nearly always be found on special at those nifty grocery stores that offer preferred shoppers cards. I have never paid more than $6.99 for it. When I need a decent wine, and Aldi is closed, this is the wine I go for. I will say, though, if you're opting for Vendange, stick with the cab, for the love of all that is not hungover in the morning.

7. Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon

Oh, another cab? Why, yes, you sure did guess correctly! This great wine can be found at your local Trader Joe's. I get warm fuzzies when I walk into that store because I really feel like I'm doing even more of my part to make the world a better place. Then, I grab the Two Buck Chuck, as we winos more affectionately refer to it, and revel in its $2.99 price tag. This one has a very similar taste to the Aldi cab, so if you live closer to a Trader Joe's, go for this one. Hey, you gotta reduce your carbon footprint even when making booze runs!

8. Charles Shaw Chardonnay

Like the previous Chuck, this one also tastes similar to its Aldi counterpart. Go ahead and pick up a few bottles if your pocketbook can handle it, so you won't have to run back out thus wasting more precious non-renewable energy sources.

9. Franzia Chillable Red

Like all Franzia boxed wines, this one is really inexpensive. The chillable red can be yours for the amazing price of about $10 to $12. With my preferred shopper cards, I usually get it for less than $10, which equates to less than $2 a bottle. Best of all, this wine is tasty and appeals to most wine drinkers.

10. Carlo Rossi Burgundy

If you've not heard of Mr. Carlo Rossi and his ginormous jugs-o-wine, look down at the bottom of the shelf the next time you're wine-shopping. I know a screw cap on a gallon of wine can look trashy, but sometimes you just have to embrace it. Put it in the nice crystal wine glasses you inherited from your grandma or just unscrew that cap and heave that behemoth of a wine jug up. It's tasty either way and after the first glass, you just may be doing the latter anyway.

Don't Knock It Til You Try It!

Remember the cardinal rule: Don't be afraid to try cheap wine. You just may be pleasantly surprised by the taste and still have two nickels to rub together when all is said and done.