It is the opposite of a secret that Trader Joe's is a mecca of budget wines. (It is definitely possible to find bottles over $20, but you really have to try.) While we picked these 10 bottles with steak in mind — is there a classier, easier meal? — beef is hardly required. Drink them with pizza. Drink them with stew. Drink them for no occasion at all, except that it is February and they are delicious.
- Cecilia Beretta Soraie, Italy, 2014, $9: Soraie is made by drying the grapes after picking to deepen their flavors. Fruity but not too sweet, this medium-bodied Italian bottle is a velvety crowd-pleaser, distinguished by red berry aromas, hints of spice, and a dry finish.
- Bogle Petite Sirah, California, 2014, $10: Dark and inky, this California Petite Sirah offers a lot more complexity than the price suggests. The big, fruity flavors are cut with a nice acidity and balanced by pleasantly earthy tones.
- Ravage Cabernet Sauvignon, California, 2015, $10: Cabernet Sauvignon is the ultimate steak wine. Smoky and earthy with cherry-berry flavors and a spicy finish, this boasts a whole lot of flavor — especially if you prefer your wines a little bit on the sweeter side.
- Layer Cake Shiraz, South Australia, 2013, $14: This appealingly rich South Australian Shiraz packs a bold punch, with dark fruity flavors and a lingering finish. Given the consistently stellar reviews (and the charming label, not that we care), this one's perfect for slightly elevated occasions and/or dignified hostess gifts.
- Famille Perrin, Côtes du Rhône, France, 2013, $9: We've recommended this one before, and we'll do it again. It has huge taste at a stellar price, and the spicy, savory blend goes with basically everything (but especially meat, which is, after all, why we're here).
- Alamos, Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina, 2015, $8: Big and plummy, this classic Malbec is practically made for steak and potatoes. It's super drinkable, consistent, approachable, and easy to like. True to the price tag, it isn't the fanciest wine in existence, but for everyday sipping, you can't go wrong.
- Gundlach Bundschu, Mountain Cuveé, Sonoma County, California, 2013, $15: This Bordeaux-inspired part-Merlot, part-Cabernet blend (with a touch of Malbec) is so versatile. With dark, fruity flavors and a luxuriously creamy mouthfeel, it's ideally suited for red meat, but it's also just a really nice wine to have around.
- Los Vascos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua, Chile, 2015, $9: Delicate and bright, this juicy Chilean Cab has a fantastic silkiness (and a fantastic price).
- Bonterra, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County, California, 2014, $15: Made with organically grown grapes — Bonterra was an early pioneer of the organic wine movement — this Cab is smooth and full-bodied, with deep cherry flavors and notes of toasted oak and vanilla.
- Marqués de Riscal, Rioja Reserva, Spain, 2011, $16: This is what you get when Spain's famed tempranillo grapes are aged in American oak barrels. Fresh and fruity and very drinkable with some gentle oaky notes at the finish, this is a bottle that's crying out for a beautifully grilled steak.
Have you tried any of these? Have you tried any with steak?