Food

The Best Wines Under $10 (Because Don’t Lie, Cheap Wine Can Be Great)

Experts have endorsed it: cheap wine doesn't need to taste like cough medicine.

If you, like us, jump on any opportunity to validate your cheapo ways, you probably heard the recent news about Aldi. The iconically odd supermarket chain has been making headlines after one of its $8 rosés was named among the best wines in the world.

This is not totally surprising! It’s not the first time Aldi’s picked up a swag of awards for their discount drops and a bunch of studies have previously indicated that, when it comes to wine, price does not always equal quality. As it turns out, the cheap wines can often be just as tasty as the super spenny ones you see on the higher shelves in the bottle-o.

Now, as an arts worker, I am a) fond of alcohol, and b) pretty much eternally short on disposable cash. This means I have a highly developed palate when it comes to cheap wine, and therefore the skinny on all the best wines you can buy with that $10 note you found squished in the back pocket of your jeans (you might even have money left over for a Freddo Frog).


The Suspiciously Cheap

This is what I like to call the “last days before wages are due” category. And, from my extensive experience in that mind space, I can tell you that the best pick is Bowler’s Run.

Bowler's run red

Good old Bowler’s Run was my drink of choice for many years. The Shiraz is shockingly drinkable and the Savvy B goes well in any party punch you are concocting, or with a couple of ice cubes (to ice cubes in wine, I say YES). Bowler’s also comes in Merlot, Shiraz and Chardonnay, but if you would like to drink those I cannot help you.

Bowler’s Run retails at the suspiciously low price of $2.99 a bottle at Dan Murphy’s, and don’t you pay a penny more for it elsewhere because that is daylight robbery.

If you are happy to trek to an Aldi, their cheapest homebrand drop is also disturbingly good. Aldi’s tagline for their liquor brand is “Don’t knock it till you try it”, and look, they’re right (also lol). Their Precious Earth range — which comes in Shiraz and Semi Savvy B — will do just fine in a (cash) pinch.

Cheap wines

Precious Earth retails at the bargain-basement price of $2.69 a bottle at Aldi. Like most Aldi products, it is not available elsewhere.

A couple of notes when you’re going for the lowest of the low: a) reds always go down cheaper than whites for bottles under $5, it’s just a fact; and b) if you’re drinking Gossips I want nothing to do with you. Honestly, just try harder.

gossips

The Middle Of The Road

Too good for $3 wine? Fair enough. Let’s move on to the $4, $5 and $6 bottles — a comfortable middle of the road for those of us looking to stay under 10 dollarydoos. Can I recommend the unique varietals of Watercolour?
Watercolour rose

Watercolour comes in the following styles: bubbles, Rosé, Chardonnay, Moscato, Shiraz and Cab Merlot; the best of the bunch are the Brut Cuvee and the Rosé. The bubbles especially makes a festive addition to any celebration of an achievement that has not increased your bank account, and therefore your ability to spend more on frivolities. Congratulations!

Watercolour retails at the supremely reasonable price of $4.99 a bottle at Dan Murphy’s (and I have never seen it for sale anywhere else).

Looking for a darker drop? Well, you can’t go past my personal favourite robust red: the good old Wine Men of Gotham Shiraz. This is a bold red, and bloody hell it’s good value for money. Get it in you now.

wine men

Wine Men of Gotham retails for $5.00 at Dan Murphy’s and extraordinary amounts more elsewhere. It is very decent.

If, like me, you sometimes enjoy a darker drop but without the feeling of licking a gritty carpet, you can choose the lighter flavour of a mid-range Pinot Noir, you gotta go with Jacob’s Creek. This Pinot will soothe your craving for a loftier red while also managing to not taste like water mixed with vinegar, which is great.

Jacob’s Creek Pinot Noir is a respectable $6.20 from Dan Murphy’s, and tends to climb over into the $7 elsewhere. It will do the job.

jacobs creek pn

Reaching For Loftier Heights

Here we are in the comfortable $7, $8 range. This is a good range, it’s like: you have money, you’re just a cheapskate. And that’s fine, who isn’t?

There’s a lot we can do in this range, because here we finally have access to wines that are not simply the Big Four (Shiraz, Chard, Sav B and the dreaded Merlot). Welcome to the sweet kiss of a Pinot Grigio (or a Pinot Gris because tbh who can tell the difference).

Can I recommend this tarty little wine label: You. The label is bold with words like “Fun”, “Flirty”, “Life”, “Laugh”, “Party”, which are all good because it means the winemakers know exactly how seriously you are taking this bottle of wine. It is, in fact, fun and flirty and fruity, and hey, that is perfectly fine.

You Pinot Grigio retails for $7.90 at Dan Murphy’s.

you pinot g

And now we’re at the hero of the mid-high range: Banrock Station. Good, charming, dependable Banrock Station. Their pink bubbles and their Cab Merlot are very decent drops of wine to pour into your mouths, so you have my permission: pour away. (But stay away from their straight rosé , and for that matter any rosé that is described as “pink” on the bottle, because that means it’s going to taste like cough medicine).

Banrock Station retails for $8.00 a pop at Liquorland.

Another fine drop in this range is the De Bertoli First Block Shiraz, which is a Shiraz that won’t remind you of eating coffee grounds! It retails for $7.99 at Dan Murphy’s.

first block shiraz

Big Spender!!!

Here we are! The Mount Olympus of cheap wine! This stuff is top of the (limited, cheapo) range, and you won’t have enough money left over for a Freddo Frog, but who cares, you’re drinking wine like an oligarch!

Now, if you are like me, you are smart and you like Riesling. Well done. Your *ding-ding-ding* prize-winner Riesling for under $10 is the rather good Cleanskin No 53 Clare Valley Riesling. It is a tart, dry drop, which is what you want out of a Riesling (if you’re buying sweet Rieslings, just buy a Pinot Grigio, you maniac).

The Cleanskin No 53 Clare Valley Riesling retails for $8.99 a bottle at Dan Murphy’s and looks like a literal ray of sunshine.

cleanskin 53

If you like a Pinot Noir, then you can have a lot of fun with the Rochecombe Pinot Noir. This one will make you feel all gooey inside, and is perfect if you’re the kind of psychopath who likes to drink red wine in summer (side note: seek help immediately if this is the case).

The Rochecombe Pinot Noir retails at $8.90 at Dan Murphy’s.

rochecombe

Or how about a nice red blend? If yes, the one for you is Jacob’s Creek Cab Sav which, on request for a short paragraph about its “mouthfeel”, my friend described thus: “It tastes like the sound of me whining about how my housemate’s cat hates me”. Enough said.

Jacob’s Creek Cabernet Sauvignon can be yours for $8.95 at BWS.

cab sav

How about a decent Prosecco for under $10? Can’t be done, you say? Well, WRONG WRONG WRONG. Meet the Maschio Prosecco$9.95 a bottle at Dan Murphy’s and worth every cent. Time for you to pop the bottle and make like you’re sailing the Riviera (on a budget, of course).

And, finally, my favourite cheap wine of all time (and I’m cheating a little here): the Yalumba Y Series Sangiovese Rose — the superlative discount drop. This is a delicious, scrummy little wine you’ll want to drink all summer. True, she retails at $10.99 per bottle at Dan Murphy’s, but if you buy a case of six it’s $9.95 each so there.

rose y series

Matilda Dixon-Smith is Junkee’s Staff Writer. She tweets at @mdixonsmith.