Funny story.  Several years ago, a dinner guest brought over a bottle of wine. Of course, I didn’t open it and proceeded to stash it in my paltry wine rack.  It was a fine bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon (or some other “varietal”).

Several months later I pulled Mr. Shaw out of the rack on my way to a dinner party.  Up until this point I considered myself something more than a novice about wine.  Apparently not.   To my brief embarrassment, as noted by the odd looks I received, I quickly learned about Two-Buck Chuck.

There’s something to be said for finding a good bargain wine.  Something that’s not Two-Buck Chuck, your parents’ jug wine, or some other fortified swill that was so plentiful in college.

In fact there are a lot of great wines to be had for less than $15 that you can bring over to that dinner party without fear of embarrassment and that won’t give you the mother of all headaches.

To discover these bargain wines, I like to refer to a few reliable sources and not the Sunday coupon flyer. Check out some of these resources to help you:

  • Food & Wine – an enthusiast publication that provides good reviews of bargain wines
  • BevMo! – allows you to filter by wine type, price, etc.
  • K&L Wine – allows you to filter by wine type, price, etc.

A few of my favorite bargain wines that will make you a wine fan:

  • La Vieille Ferme – aka “the chicken wine” – is a wine from the Rhone region of France.  It can be found in many retail outlets for about $10.  Two things you should know about this wine:  1. – it’s also highly rated by such authorities as The Wine Spectator; and 2. – you can find it in the magnum size (1.5L) for $10 at Costco in San Francisco.
  • Big House Red – formerly a wine made by Bonny Doon Vineyards, which sold it to an independent producer a few years back.  This wine retails for under $10 and offers a nice blend of Rhone-style varietals.
  • Columbia Crest “Two Vines” Shiraz – a very nice wine from Washington state that garners critical reviews and can be found at some locations such as Trader Joes for under $7.