Anyone who has searched the couch cushions for a handful of change knows that boozing on an extreme budget can be a risky proposition. To help you decide how to spend that meager pile of pennies, we've scraped the Bottom of the Barrel to review some of the cheapest wines on the market.
The Vintage: Oak Creek Cabernet Sauvignon, ABV 12.5%
Cheap wine lovers everywhere, rejoice! CVS is stepping up their game in the penny-pinching wine department. Oak Creek shares the same Mad Libs-style naming process as its Fresh & Easy compatriots, and with a 3 buck price point it's a definite contender. But as you all know, this column is a tribute to the things that can go horribly wrong when dredging the bottom of the cheap ass wine barrel, so read on to see how Oak Creek cabernet sauvignon stacks up against the competition.
(See, swirl, sniff, sip, and savor this bounty after the jump)
Appearance: The cabernet was a robust maroon to burgundy and appeared full bodied. It wasn't thin and watery, like some of the cheaper competition out there, and clung nicely to the side of the glass when swirled. So at least they didn't pull the whole water into watery wine act with this vintage.
Bouquet: The ethyl alcohol wafting off the glass was enough to render us momentarily inebriated. Do not open this bottle in the vicinity of an open flame. Even though it's only 12.5% alcohol by volume, it smells more like its low-brow, fortified wine cousins Wild Irish Rose (smells like poverty) and Night Train (quickest one-way ticket to a drunk and disorderly). You may want to exhale when consuming this baby.
Body: After letting the wine breathe a little (partly to avoid drinking it), the alcohol-heavy nose had dissipated a bit, and the body wasn't entirely terrible. It was a bit sweet and jammy, like blackberry or currents. And although oak is in the title, it was spicier and less earthy than we were expecting. Or it's possible we could have been a little too deep into the glass by this point to adequately judge. We don't exactly swish and spit.
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Finish: Tannin central. It was really more of a swift kick that a pleasant, acidic bite.
Pairs with: A slow Friday night when there's nothing on TV. Honestly, we have no idea how the entire bottle disappeared. To save face, we'll assume that half of it evaporated when we accidentally left the cork off in hopes that all this wine needed was to "breathe" a bit more. It also apparently pairs well with cold pizza straight from the fridge. What can we say? We're a classy bunch.
Lasting impressions: In this case, the nose knows. A strong grain alcohol profile puts Oak Creek cabernet sauvignon the closest to low-end fortified wine that we've tasted thus far. It was an odd combination of sickly sweet and jam-like, and lip-puckering sour. When the best recommendation we can make is, "It's better than Thunderbird." You have a problem. Avoid unless desperate for some cheap red wine, or if you need a bargain bottle to make some beef burgundy. Or boeuf bourguignon if you're really looking to class up the joint.
Know of any screw top vintages we just have to try? Leave your suggestions in the comments section.