A Great Everyday French Wine for Great Any-Night French Food

Tastes like the great everyday reds I enjoy in France. Suggested retail price; $13. Yay.

Tastes like the great everyday reds I enjoy in France. Suggested retail price; $13. Bravo.

I’ve found it! The any-night-priced French red wine that tastes like the any-night reds I get in France all the time.

Every time I stay for a stretch of time in France and indulge with Wine Country Travel for their amazing wine tours, I’m amazed at how much I love the inexpensive, everyday red wines there. Once back in Amerique profonde, I get really annoyed at how hard it is to find similar French bottles.

In fact, I have the exact same problem with French wines in America that I have with French food in America. You can find fabulous—I mean, truly wonderful—gastronomy at French-inspired restaurants all across America. But it’s really hard to find those joyful, inspired, fresh+simple Tuesday night-priced dinners that you find at little bistros all across France. As I’ve said a million times, Everyday France is what I love most.

When it comes to wine, sure, you can find great French wines here. But they generally beat the heck out of a $20 bill (and usually more). Even on this current (and inspired!) list of “Delightful Rhône Values” from the Wine Spectator, two-thirds of the bottles are over $20.

Not only that, but every single wine on that list that’s priced under $20 is white.

Where are the good, any-night-priced French reds? I’m not finding fault Wine Spectator (whose tastes I generally agree with!). I’m just sayin’ that everyday priced French reds are really, really hard to come by in the USA.

And please don’t get me wrong: I’m not looking for a $15 vin de France red that tastes like a $50 of Pomerol. I’m not looking for $15 red wine that makes me swoon. On a Tuesday night, I’m not looking for a bottle to fawn over.

I’m simply looking for a $15 red wine that does what the 6€ red wines in France do: complement my cooking in a way that feels time-honored, natural, and right. I don’t want a high-alcohol, palate-fatiguing New World bottle. I like a little fruit, earth, and spice, and I love a bright finish. That’s my kind of wine.

If that’s your kind of wine, too, then I have a recommendation: Les Dauphins Côtes du Rhône Reserve Red Wine (2013). Suggested Retail Price: $13. It’s a GSM—that is, it’s made from Grenache (70%), Syrah (25%), and Mourvèdre (5%).

I was thrilled to find this on my “to taste” shelf when I got home from France—the winery had sent it to me for review in May, and I had not gotten around to reviewing it yet. The timing of my tasting could not have been better. I was entirely looking for something exactly like this bottle.

Here are my notes: “A wine with character, but not an over-abundance of it. Subtle ripe black fruit, with muted black pepper and spice; earthy, with a delightful ‘thwack’ on the finish.” (That thwack of course, is the brightness that comes with a little acidity, which makes so many Everyday French wines so perfect with food).

As a bonus, it’s 13% alcohol. That’s a lot lower than those 14.5% heavy-hitters that I have on my shelf—bottles that I just can’t seem to get excited about this summer.

What about you? Have you found any good-value French reds this summer? Do tell!

Disclosure: I was sent this wine free of charge for review purposes. I have not been compensated by the winery in any other way. Please keep mind mind that I would never recommend a wine that I would not purchase myself. In fact, I like this wine so much that, indeed, I’m ordering six bottles from my wine seller.



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12 comments to A Great Everyday French Wine for Great Any-Night French Food

  • Mike

    Very good wine. Great value at $10.

    • Wini

      Wow. You found it for $10. Lucky you. I am going out to World Market, where I think they have it. I hear they have a case special (mix and match) for 30% off, which could knock a lot off that $13 price….I’ll report back.

  • Mike

    Les Heretiques from Chateau D’Oupia (Imported by Louis/Dressner) is one of my favorites. A blend of Carignan and Syrah from the Minervois. Sells for $10. Cool label.

  • This is exactly what I have been looking for. We, too, loved the inexpensive red table wines in France but have had minimal luck finding something similar at home. Thanks!

  • Richard Ewen

    I don’t know where you live in the US, or how close you are to competing grocery stores, but here in Austin and out in LA where we used to live, our best wine prices have been from Trader Joe’s stores. They let you taste the wines, and suggest to you ones to try according to your own preferences. Unlike a wine or liquor store, they are priced well below other stores. I also recommend you try some New Zealand and Chilean wines that they recommend.
    We travel to France every year and enjoy the French wines, but in the US the good prices just aren’t applied to many French wines. We still buy French and Italian wines in the US and the best prices here are from Trader Joe’s.

    • Wini

      That’s good to know! Yes, when I’m not in France, I live in the Midwest, and I do find TJ’s prices to be great, but locally, our French wine selection leaves something to be desired. I need to take another look! Thanks for the nudge.

  • Hi Wini, as a matter of fact I am writing you from the Languedoc in southern France right now. One of my favorite things about visiting this area is that really enjoyable wine is available and affordable everywhere! As an Iowa-based importer specializing in French wines, I have tried to bring a range of affordable everyday wines to Iowa enthusiasts, including about two dozen reds that retail for under $20 a bottle, many in the $10-$14 range. Ingersoll Wine & Spirits, the Cheese Shop, and Gateway Market are good places to start. Check my website, http://www.bestcasewines.com , for info about particular wines, and feel free to e-mail me with questions! Delicious inexpensive wines are available for the asking! Thank you, Wini, for helping to spread the word. Cheers.

    • Wini

      Of course I know your wines well, Robert! I love the Saint-Léger Vin e Pays du Comté de Grignan, though I hear that one might be going the way of all things.

      I also bought a bottle of your Lieu-dit Beauregard Bourgueil….looking forward to popping it open with my lamb.

      Your wines are only available in Iowa, though, right?

  • Right you are Wini. Cheers!

  • Just picked up some at World Market for $8.99 if you buy 4 bottles. Goes off sale tomorrow.

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