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Entertaining for the Poor as F*ck: The Best $5 Red Wines

Updated: May 20, 2014 20:54
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My second love is wine (second only to food). Oh, wine: you beautiful muse. I adore thee. A while back my parents decided to do a Sideways-inspired family vacation (I think that movie affected us all): we went all up and down wine country. A little pinot, a little syrah, the drunkest I’ve ever seen my mother (which isn’t much, the poor lightweight). It was magical. Wine opens up in a unique way to each individual taster. One would give me notes of toasted marshmallow, another would reek of crimini mushrooms. It gave me a profound appreciation for all wines. And then I went home and could have none of it, because, you know, money. I craved wine. I needed my junkie fix. So I began sampling all the bottles available within my budgetary means. Let me divulge a secret to you: my favorite, favorite red wine costs nine dollars a bottle. That’s not bad, right? But then I think, “I could buy three bottles of less good stuff for the same price.”, and that, broketarians, is how this poor fool gets her drink on: quantity over quality. So to you, my broke brethren (brokeassians? brokeasauruses?), here is my list of the best red wine money can buy for five American dollars. 1) Trader Joe’s: Charles Shaw Don’t tell my boyfriend but I am profoundly in love with a man named Charles Shaw. Well technically his real name is Fred Franzia. The wine maker from the Bronco Wine company had a brilliant idea: he took the leftovers from his harvest that weren’t made into fancy people wine and made them into poor people wine. Much like your weekend trips to Goodwill you are HAPPY getting rich people leftovers. What a home run idea! There was much rejoicing!

I said “rejoicing”, not “rioting”.

This miracle became what’s colloquially known as Two-Buck Chuck. I’m sure most of you know that it’s no longer two dollars; it’s two and a half which, once the shock wears off, becomes accepted as the way things are. Sometimes life isn’t fair and your favorite two-dollar wine goes up by 50 cents. Deal with it, peasant. Two Buck-Chuck reds comes in a few varietals: Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and my personal favorite, a generic table blend.


While occasionally you’ll get stuck with a skunk leftover batch, the best part about Two Buck-Chuck is the rare-found jackpot batch. Once in a while you open a bottle of Two Buck and are struck with glorious, complex taste (and then you go to Trader Joe’s and buy twelve bottles of it just in case). Other times you get crap and you throw it into a red sauce. You win some, you lose some. Drink your wine, peasant. 2) Trader Joe’s: Coastal

The fuck happened to that guy’s thumb?

A bit more money than Sir Charles, Coastal will still come in at about five dollars. What’s more, they have a few more options: in addition to a Cab, Syrah and Merlot, Coastal has a Zinfandel. You heard it here: the Zinfandel is tasty business.

*also tasty business*

3) Blue Fin: Petit Sirah

Have you seen this man? Possibly on the bottom shelf of your grocery store’s wine section? Hiding in the back?

Good news, everyone! This wine is not bad, and I mean that in a positive way, not like your mom telling you your online articles are “not bad” (MAMA WHY?!). Others have called it “surprisingly drinkable” and “wine”. So, there’s that: three mediocre endorsements.

4) Whole Foods: Three Wishes

This baby will run you six trips on the mechanical rocket ship outside the grocery store (three dollars). While I loathe a trip to Whole Foods (I hate living in a world where I can’t afford anything. Now you’re telling me there’s a GROCERY store where I can’t afford anything?), Three Wishes makes it worth the trip (and exposing yourself to that much people-up-their-own-ass syndrome. Have fun on your juice cleanse!). Also, in a blind taste test, the Three Wishes Cabernet Sauvignon ranked higher than that of Sir Charles Shaw.

 5) Walmart: Oak Leaf This is one of those rock-and-a-hard place situations, or it might be for some of you. Most people equate “Walmart” with “The Devil”, but would The Devil sell passable wine for $3?

He would, and he does.

Drink up AssBrokers! And maybe drink through a straw: you are too poor to afford teeth whitening.

  Images courtesy of,,,,,,,

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Forever Renting Riss

Forever Renting Riss

Marissa moved to San Francisco for love. She has previously moved to Los Angeles for dreams and Boston for distancing herself from her New Jersey roots.