Cheap Wines for Camping that Actually Taste Good (and Tricks to Make Them Taste Better)

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Young beautiful redhead woman drinking glass of red wine over isolated blue background scared in shock with a surprise face, afraid and excited with fear expression

We know people who spend $100 or more for a bottle of wine, and we’ve heard of high rollers who pay thousands. That’s not us. In fact, some of the wine we buy comes in boxes, not bottles, or has caps rather than corks.

They may not be the finest wines, but they suit our lifestyle – and please our palates. Follow along as we uncork the secrets of less expensive wines and find out how to make the most of them.

Cheap Wine Can Still Taste Great

It sure is a great feeling to reach down to the lower shelves and pick up a winner. Satisfying wines don’t have to be pricey. Let’s take a look at some of the go-to wines that keep us coming back for more.

1. Bota Box

Price: 3L box (equal to four bottles) is $19.99

These boxed wines fit in nicely with our on-the-go lifestyle, and we love that they use sustainable materials for packaging. With their bold, fruit-forward flavors, these Napa, California products show up prominently in best-of-box ratings and outdo lots of bottles. Bota makes an assortment of reds and whites, including an Old Vine Zinfandel and a blend called Redvolution, plus a Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.

One of America’s Best Sommeliers Grades Boxed Wine

2. Underwood Bubbles

Price: $15/bottle, $6/can

A more casual alternative to Champagne, this sparkling rosé is a luscious blend of Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. This summertime sipper is crisp, refreshing, and sweet – but not too sweet.

3. Chateau Ste. Michelle

Price: $11.89 and up

It has a French name, but it comes to us from a historic chateau in Washington’s Columbia Valley. Chateau Ste. Michelle’s offerings include a broad range of reds and whites, and many get enviable ratings from critics. Favorites include their Riesling, Syrah, and Merlot.

4. Clos du Bois Chardonnay

Price: $9.99

This is a classic contemporary California Chardonnay from Sonoma Valley. It’s suitably oaky with a golden straw color with notes of green apple and lemon. It’s refreshing, and quenching and nicely complements chicken, seafood, and vegetarian dishes.

5. Franzia

Price:  $15 for a 5L carton, which equates to $2.25/bottle.

“Value-priced” is a nice way of saying Franzia’s wines are dirt cheap. Their affordability makes them extremely popular, and so does their consistency. Franzia has more than 20 different styles and claims they stay fresh up to six weeks after opening.

6. Alamos Malbec

Price: $9.99/bottle

This rich, flavorful, medium-bodied red from Argentina is complex, with notes of black cherry and plum. They blend the predominant grape, Malbec, with two other varietals, Syrah and Bonarda.

7. Lubanzi Wine in a Can

Price: $30/four-pack

Lubanzi’s name comes from a dog that wandered around the community in South Africa where they make this wine. The socially conscious company pledges to give back 50 percent of its proceeds directly to the workers. Their refreshing canned wines include a Chenin Blanc and a popular Red Blend.

How Can You Make Cheap Wine Taste Better?

Some wines can use a little help. Rather than sipping them straight from the bottle or box, you might want to add some more flavors. Some of these classic concoctions date back centuries, while others are modern favorites. There’s even a trick to help you feel better the next morning about your decision to indulge in a cheapo wine.

Make Sangria 

You can make this refreshing warm-weather favorite with white wine, but red is the traditional choice. After all, the word means “blood” in Spanish. Every sangria lover has their own special recipe, and being creative is part of the appeal.

Combine the wine with orange slices and berries in a pitcher along with orange juice, sugar, and maybe some brandy. Chill it with ice and enjoy.

Pro Tip: Sangria also makes our list of 10 essential camping cocktails you need to try!

Make Mulled Wine

This is a holiday favorite for lots of people. Start with dry red wine and add orange slices along with traditional mulling spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

There are countless variations – many sweeten the concoction with honey, and some swear by lemon zest and ginger. Heat it until it almost reaches a boil, then strain it. Serve it warm for a festive and fragrant wintertime experience.

Make a Wine Cooler

Another way to make your bargain wine more palatable is to mix things up with something fizzy. Typically, a wine cooler contains wine, a carbonated beverage, and fruit juice. Whites or rosés work best for this, and lime and cranberry juice are great mixers.

You can use club soda or another carbonated beverage as long as it’s fairly mild in flavor. A shot or two of triple sec liqueur punches it up even more.

Really Cheap Wine? Add a Splash of Fresca 

Along the same lines as the wine cooler, Fresca can come to the rescue, too. This is an easy way to make a wine spritzer using an old-school soft drink. The Coca-Cola Company introduced this grapefruit-flavored soda in 1966. It’s found a niche as crisp pairing with wines. Add some chopped fresh fruit if you like, and serve extremely cold.

Eliminate Wine Headache with Drop It

However you serve up your wine, be careful not to overdo it, or you might feel the effects the next day. It helps to drink plenty of water along with your wine, and be sure to eat plenty of food. Using Drop It is another way to help alleviate some painful memories of the night before.

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Rather than the alcohol itself, wine has some other elements that can cause discomfort. These include sulfites, which are preservatives, and the natural tannins that give the wine its body and astringent qualities.

Drop It has a natural protein that causes the tannins to bind together and the sulfites to form into crystals. The easy-to-use product comes in a small plastic bottle (similar to Visine). Just squirt a few drops of it directly into your wine glass (or bottle) and swirl for 20 seconds or so. The formula, which contains small amounts of food-grade hydrogen peroxide, helps neutralize sulfites and reduce tannins. 

Psst: Not feeling wine this camping trip? Check out the Best Cheap Beers for Sitting by the Campfire.

Don’t Turn Your Nose Up at Cheap Wines

When you’re trying to save money at every turn, you can’t afford to be a wine snob. At their most basic, wines are water, yeast, sugar, and fermented grapes. The point is that, fundamentally, they’re all pretty similar when you get down to it.

There’s no question that it feels good to be extravagant once in a while. For the most part, though, there’s no reason to break the bank to enjoy a glass (or plastic cup) of wine. What’s your favorite inexpensive wine, and how much does it cost?

Last update on 2021-11-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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