Here at LIY, we believe cheap wine doesn’t have to taste like cheap wine [not that we would know the difference, since we only ever drink cheap wine]. When it comes to grocery store wines, we know firsthand how overwhelming the options can be. The shelves are stocked with endless options, most of which we’ve never heard of. Nonetheless, we took matters into our own hands [errr, glasses] to find the best grocery store wine under $15. Red, white, sweet or dry– you name it, we tried it. Pour yourself a tall glass or two and get settled in!
How We Tested
The testing process was simple, really. We hit up our local Target and walked out with 16 bottles of wine in tow. While there are a ton of varieties of wine on the market, we stuck to what we know best– the basics: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Moscato, and Sweet Reds. Back at LIY HQ, we called for a team meeting in the conference room and took it upon ourselves to review said wine [out of high-class styrofoam cups], taking notes of our favorites and least favorites like the self-proclaimed connoisseurs we are. Today we’re sharing our honest and extremely unqualified feedback.
How to Purchase Wine Online
In this post, we linked directly to Target so you can scope out the vino for yourself. But here in Indiana, we’re not lucky enough to order it online. If you’re a Hoosier yourself, we can order directly from wineries or online retailers. Unfortunately states like Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi, Kentucky and Utah are going to have a trickier time getting theirs shipped directly to their doorstep. If you’re still shopping [and sipping] from the couch, we suggest online retailers like Wine.com or Wine Express to get the job done. One more fun fact to keep in mind: Amazon Prime Now offers 2-hour alcohol delivery in select cities. You lucky ducks can learn more about that here, because the quicker the better. Without further ado, these are the Best Grocery Store Wines Under $15. Cheers!
- Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon $5.99 // ABV: 13.5% Here’s the deal, you can definitely tell this one costs five dollars. It’s flat tasting, doesn’t have a lot of flavor, and would probably cause a gnarly hangover. It made the inside of our mouths feel super dry like “a duck that needs to quack”. In our opinion, Barefoot should stick to moscato. #CottonMouthCity
- Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon $5.99 // ABV: 13.5% “This reminds me of the inside of a new cupboard.” It tastes about how cabinets smell. We kept waiting for something more, but it wasn’t happening. It’s what we’ve deemed “a poor man’s Josh“. Keep reading for more details.
- Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon $9.99 // ABV: 13.5% We couldn’t find anything wrong with this option. It was drier, but slightly fruitier than the others. If you prefer dry, this is a good one for you!
- OUR PICK: Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon $13.99 // ABV:14.1% “Reminds me of my old lover – yum.” If you don’t like a cabernet, you would probably still like this one! It’s nice & smooth and not too cabby.
While several of us are cab girls at heart, not all of these tickled our tastebuds. We landed on Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon as our drink of choice. It was the most expensive of the bunch, but went down the smoothest without being “too cabby”.
- California Roots [Target Brand] $5.00 // ABV: 13.5% We felt healthier drinking this one compared to Butter. More fruit, less butter. It would make a good summer wine that’s perfect for book club! All in all, refreshing and not too bad for five dollars.
- Chateau Ste. Michelle $9.99 ABV: 14% “It feels delicate. Delicately woodsy. Like a delicate trip to the woods.” It’s subtle and feels fancy. Would we buy it? Probably not, but we like it. It smells like it belongs at a dinner party with linens. This is a mature wine you could sip with your dad while he smokes a cigar. A little bit old lady– we wouldn’t break this out for our girlfriends, because it’s a little too fancy for their taste. Not bad, but we had a hard time finishing it.
- Butter Chardonnay $14.99 // ABV: 14.8% “I fricken hate this crap. Wait, it’s not bad… I gave it a bad first impression. I feel like it would hurt if you burped. It burns. It’s not that bad, but I don’t like it with that last swallow.” -A Direct Quote. It lives up to its name; it is buttery. It reminded us of tapioca or a grandma and it tastes warm. Not physically warm, but how you would expect something warm to taste.
- OUR PICK: Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay $11.99 // ABV: 13.5% We were wowed! It tastes vanilla sweet, not overly fruity sweet. If you’ve ever got an extra $10 [or $11.99] to spare, this was our favorite.
When it came to chardonnay, Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay got our vote. While there were several acceptable options [there’s not a lot we won’t drink 😉 ], we liked it better than the most expensive brand by a long shot. Not too cheap, not too fancy, just right.
- Barefoot Moscato $5.49 // ABV: 9% Moscato is Barefoot’s lane. It’s little more tart and less sweet than the others. It’s also not sparkling or bubbly, which we liked. Good, crisp summer wine! We liked it. Not shabby for five bucks.
- Roscato $10.99 // ABV: 7% There’s not much to this one, kinda bland. It’s bubbly, but not bubbly enough. And it left us feeling like something was in the back of our throats. *clears throat* Once again, we kept waiting for something more to happen and it wasn’t there. “Now THIS reminds me of my old lover.” -Claire
- Cupcake Vineyards $10.99 ABV: 5.5% Sweet, but not too sweet. This one is VERY similar to Risata [keep reading], but not quite as sweet and smooth– a four-dollar-poorer man’s Risata. But to be honest, if we’re trying to save $4, we’d buy it.
- OUR PICK: Risata $14.99 // ABV:5.5% Sweet, light, refreshing, and little bit bubbly. The whole cup of tea.. or wine, in this case. It’s very sweet [like you could only drink 1-2 glasses], but we were into it and don’t normally like sweet wines.
None of the LIY Team [ie. self-appointed wine connoisseurs] favor moscato in general, but we fell hard for Risata Moscato d’Asti. Like all moscato, it was sweet and refreshing. It was the priciest of the bunch, so if you’re looking to save a few bucks, you can never go wrong with $5 Barefoot.
- TIEBREAKER: Barefoot Sweet Red Blend $5.49 // ABV: 10.5% “Dry, yucky, tastes like it’s trying too hard– just like me.” -Cassidy. This one tastes a little bit like a dry wine trying to be sweet. Unlike some of the others that tasted like juice, the dryness made it feel more legit. Since it’s not overly sweet, we decided we could probably drink most of it without our stomachs hurting. We were wrong.
- Reggae Red Easley Red Table Wine $6.99 // ABV: 10% This is what we call too sweet. The sweetest one we tried by far. Somehow, it almost tastes sweet and bitter at the same time. Needless to say, we didn’t like it. It tasted like juice to us, similar to the Oliver. A weak man’s version of Oliver.
- Oliver Soft Red $7.99 // ABV: 11% “I wish this was my Communion wine.” -Claire. Very sweet and grape juice tasting, to the point where it doesn’t feel like you’re drinking wine. We liked the flavor, but be sure to chill this one.
- TIEBREAKER: Roscato $10.99 // ABV: 7% It’s sweet, friends! Some of us really liked the bubbles and some of us did not, which is totally personal preference. If you’re into that sort of sweetness, you won’t be disappointed. However, we probably wouldn’t want more than one glass!
Red, red, wineeee! It was a toss-up for this one, folks. If “the sweeter, the better” is your motto, you’ll most likely enjoy Roscato. If you can get down with a bit of tartiness, Barefoot Sweet Red is the name of the game. But for under $15 each, we say wine not both? 😉