The Under-$5 Wines: Are they Drinkable?

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We’ve all had to do some serious belt-tightening during this crummy economy. And while I have definitely cut corners on my wine purchases, I’ve never bought a wine whose price tag is lower than $8. I am aware that there are $3 to $5 wines available, but it’s hard to imagine that they could be as satisfying as their more expensive compatriots. However, after a bargain-hunting wine geek friend called me a prima donna for my inflexible attitude, I decided to check out some seriously low-priced wines. How bad could they be, I wondered? Or, how good? The results were encouraging.

La Ferme Julien
2008 Rosé
Country of origin: France
I paid: $4.99

A frisky, lighthearted blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah grapes, this exuberantly pink Rhone rosé is easy to drink, wonderfully fruity (you’ll love the heady cherry and raspberry aromas) and the perfect quaff to get that dinner party rolling. Would I buy it again? Absolutely.

Down Under
2008 Chardonnay
Country of origin: Australia
I paid: $2.99

Can you believe it – a Chardonnay for $2.99? I was highly dubious. However, I was delighted to find the wine soft and appealing, though it could use a bit more acidity to brighten it up. But it would be a fine wine to sip for a mid-week dinner (with, say, roast chicken, Petrale sole, or cheese and crackers) and it certainly wouldn’t offend anyone. I’m going to run back and buy four or five bottles to have on hand. For $2.99, who wouldn’t?

D’Aquino Gaetano
2007 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo
Country of origin: Italy
I paid: $3.99

A flat, sullen wine with restrained, tired berry flavors, I doubt this Montepulciano D’Abruzzo would play nicely with food. I wanted to like it, but after several sips, decided it wasn’t worth the effort. I switched over to a favorite (over $9) Zinfandel instead.