Wine Under $20

Seeking the best value for the buck.

We Try Every Red Wine from Barefoot

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Many a hypothesis has been thrown around as to why Barefoot wines are named "Barefoot." Perhaps it's the state in which a drinker will enjoy the wine most thoroughly. Perhaps it's an allusion the mechanism by which the grapes were crushed back in the day. Or perhaps—most cynically—it's reflective of how the wines taste. A little digging has shown that the enjoyment of easy drinking wines is definitely what the E&J Gallo brand is going for: "It was time for a wine that didn't take itself too seriously".

This week, we worked our way through the second chapter in the Barefoot lineup: the reds. And our journey was actually much more enjoyable than our tasting of Barefoot's whites—picking a winner between the red wines was a bit trickier; there were a couple of options here that were relatively easy on the palate and on the wallet (they sell around $7 a pop depending on where you buy).

The Winner: Cabernet Sauvignon

The Barefoot California Cab was a bit lighter than we expected, and reminded us a lot of the Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon. It poured out with a nice red-violet color and smelled of ripe red fruits. It's a smooth and dry wine with mild tannins and bright acidity to give it enough structure to stand on its own. Is it a classic Cabernet? No. But it's enjoyable, and the cherry and chocolate flavors would make this bottle pair well with a stew or a teriyaki dish.

Runner-Up: Shiraz

The Shiraz (which is also from California) was quite a bit fuller in body when compared to the Cab. It gave up a bit of a smoky scent, supported by dried fruit—apple and raspberries. The wine had a mild acidity that let sweet black cherry shine through, balanced by savory notes of black pepper and a little olive. Better with food, this wine could be a decent value option to serve with grilled sausages or steak.

The Rest

  • Merlot (California): The smoky, cherry scents came through on the palate, too. This wine needed food though, and smoky, grilled meats would be good here.
  • Zinfandel (Lodi, California): On the sweeter side, the Zin had smooth tannins and tasted like strawberry jam and cola.
  • Pinot Noir (California): This juicy wine had tart blackberry flavors and a flat finish. Consider serving it over ice with some chunks of fruit.
  • Red Moscato (California): A sweet, slightly effervescent wine, like spiked maraschino cherry brining liquid topped with club soda. An okay option if you like really sweet wine, but most preferred the Barefoot Riesling to this given the cleaner taste.
  • Sweet Red (California): Just as the grapes on this wine are unclear, so are the purposes for which you'd drink this. It was very sweet, and reminded us of Kool-aid fruit punch. It was neither refreshing enough to drink on its own nor clean enough to serve with food.

How about you—do you like the red wines from Barefoot? Got a favorite bottle?

About the author: Seema Gunda is an avid wine traveler, collector, and student with a background in chemistry and a day job in consulting.

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