The top 10 cheap wines at the LCBO
Cheap wine that doesn't singe your throat on the way down is a relatively rare commodity at the LCBO. That said, there are a select few bottles that meet the categories "cheap" and "drinkable" in the general stock at the booze store; you just need to know which ones.
Many of these wines -- particularly the reds -- do best when paired with food as they tend to be fruit forward and marked by a healthy dose of acidity. I find that the reds on this list do well chilled down a little lower than you might tend to go with wine of higher quality and complexity.
UPDATE: This post has been updated with new selections, pricing, and hyperlinks as of June 1, 2016.
Villa Regia, $7.95
It doesn't have much by way of body, but this Douro Valley red is easy drinking and fairly well balanced -- which is to say that no one element (like say, acidity) stands out. This is a good wine to pair with casual food like grilled burgers.
Mezzomondo Negroamaro, $8.95
One of the LCBO's longstanding values in red wine, this Negroamaro from Italy is a great food wine. It's not particularly complex, of course, but with a lively acidity and plenty of plum on the palate, it pairs perfectly with simple pastas and pizza.
Castillo de MonsĂŠran, $9.95
Garnacha (or Grenache in French) is a grape that tends to taste like the sun -- or at least that's what I think after I've had a bottle of it (my face somehow usually looks sunburnt at this point, too). Hailing from Carinena in Spain, this is a soft red wine with lots of dark fruit and low tannin. It's a great value at $9.95.
Farnese Sangiovese, $8.95
Oh, Farnese -- you got me through grad school. Although the price has krept up since back then, at less than 10 bucks it's hard to go wrong with this food-friendly Italian red. Even if you start the night with the good stuff, it's useful to have some of this around for continued drinking later.
Alianca Foral Duoro, $8.95
Another red from the Douro Valley in Portugal (one of the most value-oriented regions out there), this is probably my top pick on this list. In fact, it's hard to believe that this comes in at sub $10, as it I've had plenty of bottles of $20+ wine that pale in comparison. With lots of vanilla and pepper, this is good on its own or paired with something like a flank steak.
Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde, $9.95
Not enough people drink Vinho Verde. Slightly effervescent, it's a white wine that's perfect to drink outside during the summer. It's not fancy, but it's easy to drink, pairs well with simple seafood dishes, and tends to be friendly to the wallet.
Trapiche Astica Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, $7.95
This Argentinian take on a white Bordeaux isn't remarkable, but it's got a good balance of citrus and pepper notes, and goes down easily enough. Most importantly it avoids that flaw that defines so many cheap whites, it doesn't have an overly alcoholic undertone.
Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier, $9.95
This Chilean Viognier (a varietal common to the south of France) is one of the better cheap whites out there. It has pleasant honey and citrus notes and can even hold up against meatier fish. Reluctantly recommended.
Pelee Island Blanc de Blanc VQA, $10.95
Ontario wineries tend to do Riesling well. And any list of cheap wines should have a Riesling on it because of how versatile the grape is. Good on its own or with seafood or a cheese plate, this is a surprisingly good one for $10.95, and it's as local as you're going to get as far this list goes.
Jaszbery Szekszardi Kekfrankos, $7.95
This Hungarian red is an unbelievable value at under eight bucks. It has lovely floral notes and a healthy acidity that makes it excellent wine to pair with a variety of food. Open this on a night when you've made something like burgers or pizza but are still in the mood for wine. It'll do both justice.
Thanks to the New Listerine UltraClean for sponsoring our wine-soaked adventures.
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