The Wine Curmudgeon is always looking for $10 red wine that tastes like it costs more than $10. These are the most difficult cheap wines to find, though I’m not sure why. Yes, it’s easier to make quality cheap white than red, but not easier to make cheap quality sparkling. And there is plenty of the latter.
So I ask a lot of people if they can recommend a red that’s worth serving as a wine of the week. Many of the people I ask are retailers, and their choices are spot on more often than not (which is one reason why the forthcoming cheap wine book spends a lot of time discussing how to find a good retailer).
That was the case with the Tractor Shed ($10, purchased, 13.5%), and a tip o’ the Curmudgeon's fedora to Jeff Stuart at Spec’s in Dallas for the suggestion. It’s a California red – from Napa Valley, no less -- that combines an old-fashioned field blend with modern winemaking to produce a fruity wine with character and qualities other than just the fruit. Most of the fruit (sweet cherry?) is in the middle, surrounded by spiciness in front and earthiness and pleasing tannins on the finish.
This is a red wine to keep around the house and open as needed. It will pair with most red wine foods, but is also pleasant enough to drink on its down. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2014 $10 Hall of Fame.