10 Cheap, Tasty Wines to Get You Through Tax Season

Photo: n@89go

Pen and ink. Siegfried and Roy. Taxes and wine. None of these things can exist without the other.

Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again — time to crunch those numbers and throw back a few glasses of your favorite vintage.

Even if you don’t do your own taxes — I leave my financial fate in the hands of a capable accountant — odds are you’ll want something to take the edge off…especially when you discover the damage.

That’s why I’ve chosen 10 wines — all under $10 — that are guaranteed make this tax season an easier pill to swallow. (See also: 10 Great Wines for Under $10)

1. Lucky Duck Chardonnay

I choose my wine like I choose my elected officials — by how much I like the name and the pleasantness of overall appearance. Granted, that’s probably why I have a hangover and high taxes, but I digress. Lucky Duck wines have a sort of modern design aesthetic (a marketing gimmick targeting young adults; it worked on me), and the Chardonnay, in particular, is decent. With notes of green apple, grapes, and pear, this buttery, somewhat acidic wine from Southeastern Australia retails for about $4 (I’ve seen it as low as $2.97) at Walmart stores (and it's available online too). Cheers!

2. Frontera Cabernet-Merlot

Produced in Central Valley, Chile, this Cabernet Sauvignon (85%)/Merlot (15%) blend is fruity with aromas of chocolate, black plums, and vanilla — perfect for those late nights punching digits into the calculator. A medium body gives way to black cherry flavors, soft tannins, and a pleasing finish. Because this is a hybrid wine, you get the best of both worlds — the character and complexity of a Cab mixed with the elegance of a Merlot. A standard bottle is available for about $5.

3. Cameron Hughes Wine Lot 221 2009 Lodi Zinfandel

This Zinfandel from Cameron Hughes is a bit pricier than the other vintages on this list at $9.90, but that’s still a steal for a 2011 L.A. International Wine Competition gold medal winner. Notes of ripe raspberries and currants invite subtle hints of clove, and cinnamon with a background of sage to make for a wine with a velvety texture that leads to a long structured finish. The deep magenta color signifies dark berries that give the wine some bite and a beautiful density indicative of the quality vineyard from which it was sourced.

4. Twin Vines Vinho Verde 2010

When you drink this white wine, it’s as if spring comes to life in your mouth. Slightly spritzy (who doesn’t like a little fizz), the aromatics of the Twin Vines Vinho Verde 2010 include wisps of lemon, melon, and green apple that seem to dance around on your palate. This vintage from Portugal is an excellent pairing for those light meals on warm days, like salads, chicken, seafood, and spicy dishes. It’s also not bad to celebrate that refund you were hoping for. Sells for around $6.

5. Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

This wine immediately piqued my interest because of the winemaker’s notes — “Strawberry, cherry, and cola aromas and flavors harmoniously flow into the silky and soft palate that culminates into a long velvety finish.” He had me at cherry cola. This blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Syrah, and 2% Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington, boasts a black-plum fruitiness and a rich chocolaty finish. And you can enjoy it for only $8.99 from Wine.com.

6. Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava

After you’ve sent your annual earnings report to Uncle Sam, relax with this refreshing dry sparkling white wine from Spain. Ripe with citrus and apple flavors, the Cristalino Brut Cava is pale and creamy with a robust straw color. If you like bubbly with a tight clean finish, this non-vintage is your best buy at $7.99.

7. Arido Moscato 2011

Set sail for Argentina with this Moscatel that hails from the Mendoza region. Yellowish in color, green aromas of bright apple and pear mingle with roses. Although this white is on the sweeter side, the fruit notes are well balanced by the wine’s soft acidity. The Arido Moscato 2011 is fairly available across the United States thanks to the San Francisco Wine Exchange. You can grab a bottle for $9.99.

8. Evodia Old Vine Grenache 2010

Sourced from Garnacha grapes in the Denominacion de Origen Calatayud, one of Spain’s most promising wine-growing regions, Evoida is the product of a new project. Along with notes of mocha, black cherry, and black raspberry, you’ll taste the earthy minerality resulting from grapes grown in pure schiste soils at a high elevation. Available for $9.29, the Evodia Old Vine Grenache 2010 received 90 points out of a possible 100 (that's an A, y’all) from Wine Enthusiast magazine.

9. Arca Nova Vinho Verde 2010

The nose of this wine is medium to light in intensity with notes of youthful floral, citrus fruits, and freshly cut grass. Its light-bodied, dry, medium-high acidity taste features hints of lemon and green apple with a short-medium finish. With its slight fizz on the tongue, this wine pairs well with seafood and grilled veggies. You can pick it up for $9 at Bottletrocket Wine & Spirit

10. Bodegas Riojanas Rioja Canchales 2010

Another $9 bottle from Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit, this young, fresh vintage is red, dry, and light-bodied. Berries abound in the nose and mouth; first the scent of strawberries and cherries followed by red fruits and plums that peak in a medium finish. Considering sharing a few glasses over garlic chicken or grilled pork cutlets to say salud and sayonara to another year of paid taxes.

Disclosure: I received free wine samples for review; it’s a dirty job but somebody had to do it.

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Guest's picture

I HAVE to add Wild Bunch Red Blend 2010 - 1.5 L bottle at Costco for 8.99 and amazingly delicious.

Meg Favreau's picture

I've had that Twin Vines Vinho Verde before and really dig it. My favorite inexpensive red is El Cota Rioja, which is pretty much always under $10.

Andrea Karim's picture

You are so brave to suffer through tastings for this article, Mikey! Bless you. ;)

Mikey Rox's picture

VERY hard work. :)

Guest's picture

Now this is my kind of article! My favourite frugalish wine is Barefoot White Zinfandel. There's no better rosé on the market for its price, if you ask me.