Drinking Cheap: 20 Pink Wines Under $25

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We’re back, with another installment of 20 under 25. This time we take on pink wines.

These pinks should all be relatively easy to find – most of them can be found in my local supermarkets, and those that aren’t heavily distributed are easily had online. If you’re a rosé fan – and I am – you’re in luck, at least for now, because these have been considered lesser, kind of frivolous wines by many, and their lack of cachet has kept price points lower than for big reds.

The low prices likely won’t last. Ryan O’Connell of NakedWines.com reports that rosé sales have skyrocketed since the warm weather hit, and they are currently selling thousands of bottle per week (go check them out and see if you find a new favorite there!).

While I will usually argue anyone into the ground about the virtues of Californian and Italian wine over French, let it be noted that this is where I make an exception. Provence rules the rosé. But very tasty and awesomely affordable iterations come out of Spain, South Africa, and up and down the west coast, not to mention some locales you wouldn’t automatically think of.

A to Z Wineworks Rosé ($12)

Ah, Oregon. The Pacific Northwest is the Land of The Rules Don’t Apply To Me, and that can be a good thing. This is a brash but somehow still approachable wine with a vivid color and extreme juiciness. Citrus, plum, a little pomegranate. There’s even a touch of hibiscus, which is funny because this stuff looks a lot like the “Jamaica” hibiscus agua fresca at your local taqueria. In fact I’d call it a very sane choice for pairing with good Mexican food. Big personality, a little eclectic. Very tasty.

Beauregard 2014 Pinot Gris ($25)

Donkey and Goat’s “Stonecrusher” Marsanne left me with an insatiable appetite for orange wines, and Beauregard’s Gris de Pinot Gris is one of the best ones I’ve found. Blossomy nose, basalt and marzipan on the palate in all the best ways. This is one of those wines I don’t dare buy unless friends are coming over because once it’s open I will drink the whole thing. So. Good.

Bonny Doon 2014 Vin Gris de Cigare ($18)

The 2014 release of one of the classic wines from Bonny Doon’s occasionally irascible (but also gifted and hilarious) Terroiriste Randall Graham, is a Provence-style Gris De Gris that, if you had to describe it in one word the word would be “elegant.” Since I am not confined to one word I will add chalk, herbs, strawberries, crisp, subtle, pure, and incredibly yummy. I am a novelty-seeker and will gravitate toward wines I have never tried – usually. This has been a go-to for years. If you don’t want an unpleasant surprise, you’re never going to get one from this wine.

Center of Effort 2014 Pinot Noir Rose ($18)

I love these guys, who hail from the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay dominant San Luis Obispo region. Their pink pinot is a nice blend of sweetness and salinity, with some spiciness and a lot of cherry on the palate. Rock-solid, medium bodied, and the intriguing minerality that seems to unite the wines of this area. Will not disappoint.

Chamisal 2014 Estate Rose ($20)

Another tasty option from the Pinot Cathedral that is San Luis Obispo. Pinot noir is a very versatile grape that speaks, if you will, a lot of languages. This one is closer to a red than some pink pinots; it’s deeply tinted and has a deeper, more brooding and complicated personality than a lot of rose wines do. It’s rich, strawberry-forward, with a bit of watermelon and some citrusy notes on the bouquet. Really nice for those who favor bolder pinks over the barely-there style.


Charles & Charles 2014 Rose ($14)

If you like your rosé fruity, this is your guy. A salmon-to-rose colored blend, this wine is vibrant and not one to hold back. Red fruit, red fruit, red fruit, with a little hint of lavender, a soft grassiness and a bit of stone. Relatively low acid. Approachable and vivacious. A good backyard party wine.

Chateau D’Aqueria 2014 Tavel ($20)

Vivid salmon color. Full bodied and super dry, with good earthiness and raspberry notes. A little bit of lemon and some herbaceous subtones. Really good food wine, though certainly holds its own without a pairing (that said – shellfish, dudes.) A beautiful Provencal pink.

Chateau de Compuget 2014 Costieres de Nimes ($19)

Some rosé wines look like they will taste like fruit punch and are shockingly minimalist on the palate. This is an example of a very pale one that packs a little bit more of a punch (but not fruit punch). Dry and earthy, very structured, with a lot of cherry and some wild strawberry. Beautifully balanced.

Chateau d’Esclans 2014 Cotes de Provence “Whispering Angel” ($20)

From the “barely there” school of pink Grenache, Whispering Angel is, as the name suggests, a soft and ethereal wine, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot to say. Strawberry aroma, faint spice, a little lemon, a little raspberry. Juicy yet restrained. Very well-balanced.

Clos Pegase 2014 Napa Rose ($22)

Bright pink, highly perfumed, very nuanced. Expresses a lot of nifty herb notes (I get chamomile and fennel), blood oranges, and tart cherries. Dry yet juicy, great mineral finish, balanced acidity. Totally solid.

Domaine de Triennes 2014 Rose ($19)

A pale Cinsault-driven wine, this is a pretty classic expression of Provence pink. In addition to the fairly ubiquitous strawberry tone, there is a lot of white floral on the nose here, and a soft, rounded, creamy hint of vanilla. It’s restrained and elegant and very, very drinkable.

Hendry Vineyard, 2014 Napa Valley Rose ($14)

So pretty! This wine has a gorgeous, rosy-pink hue with great clarity. I have a huge prejudice against saignee wines (bleeding off extra juice from a red wine partway through the fermentation process – concentrates the remaining red; the rosé is a by-product). These guys remind me that it’s just dumb to make assumptions about stuff. This is a signee wine that I like. It’s a blend of several normally very full-bodied red grapes, but they wind up with a very very dry, very crisp result. Strawberries and herbs. Drink it quite chilled.

Horse and Plow 2014 ($20)

I buy this old vine, organic Mendocino County wine a lot when I’m not sure which direction to go. It’s one of those things my local market always has chilled and it’s always rock-solid. That said, it might be one of the slightly tougher wines on this list to find outside California, so consult your local Internet. This is a mostly-Carignane blend, and has a lovely orange-zest character, with strawberry and watermelon accompaniment. It’s never disappointing. Ever. Very summery, very light, very sensuous. Worth seeking out if you are not a lucky person like me whose shopping cart it just falls into.

Justin 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Rose ($20)

So those nearly-colorless, whispery wines you can get from, say Grenache? Cabernet doesn’t do that. Pink cabs often look like Kool-Aid. Do not be fooled. It is very light, super refreshing, and very layered. I love the aromatic herb notes in this one – violets, chamomile, lavender. Cherry and plum flavors predominate. Lingering finish.

Muga 2014 Rioja Rosado ($13)

2014 was a tough year for Rioja – uncooperative weather meant a lot of grapes were lost to rot. Luckily, what they salvaged is awfully dang tasty. This Grenache-Tempranillo blend is pale salmon pink, with a stronger presence of flavors like peach and pineapple than a lot of the wines on this list – it has a faint creaminess without sacrificing acidity, and a long, peachy finish. Really good.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé ($12)

I often fall under the weird impression that wines from the southern hemisphere tend not to agree with my palate. Then I open something from Mulderbosch. Cabernet Sauvignon is not the most common choice for a rosé, but this one proves it’s worth doing. Identifiably a cab, but with oddball citrus notes. Structured and dry, with a strong color. A very pretty wine and a steal.

Quivira 2014 Dry Creek Valley Rose ($24)

Yes, I still love Quivira as much as I did the last 12 times I mentioned them. What can I say? I’m a loyal type to those who are good to me, and to me these are some of the best wines in the region. Starring rosé rockstar Grenache with judicious additions of Cunoise, Syrah and Mourvedre, this wine is a medium pink, rounded, with great acidity and a dreamy array of cranberry, strawberry, melon, sour cherry notes. One of those “Happy in a Bottle” bottles you will want to have a few of for special occasions. And by special I mean “Oh look: it’s 5:30!”

Round Pond Rosato di Nebbiolo ($24)

Nebbiolo is the grape that is used to make Italian Barolo and Barbaresco wines. You seldom see it planted in California, and until a recent visit to Round Pond I had no idea there was such a thing as a rosé version. (Even in Piemonte they are unusual.) This might just be my favorite discovery of the year, which is why I include it even though it’s the one you’ll almost certainly have to order from the winery; they won’t have it at your Safeway. But do it, because it is soooooo worth it. Salmon color, red berries and an intriguing note of herbes de provence, primarily lavender buds but other little herbaceous tones too. It’s a small production run and you’ll have to work for it a little more than some of these bottles, but isn’t that true of much of the good stuff?

Seven Hills Winery 2014 Dry Rosé ($16)

From Washington’s Columbia Valley, this rosé is pale, heavy on the aromatic florals, and quite brisk, with notes of peach and citrus zest, largely grapefruit. Herbaceous and mineral tones on the finish. Really approachable and nicely balanced.

Stinson Vineyards Rosé Monticello ($19)?

I admit it – I looked at this bottle, thought – cool, Marin County! Then realized it was from Virginia and braced myself for Not Good. Folks, what do we do when we assume? We miss out on a beautiful little wine is what. This is rosé Mourvedre aged in stainless steel sur lie, with a blast of florals on the nose and a very nice stony finish. Yes.