5 Best Cabernet Sauvignons Under $25

Karen Frazier
Learn the best shape glass for red wine.
Learn the best shape glass for red wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon has a reputation for being an expensive wine. Fortunately, there are many terrific bargains to be had. It is very possible to locate wonderful bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon for $25 or less.

The Best

Best is a subjective term that may mean different things to different people. In this case, the term "best" refers to affordable bottles of wine that are well received by critics and/or consumers. The wines are accessible, easy to drink, and display the classic characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine Royalty?

Cabernet Sauvignon is considered by many wine drinkers to be the King of Wine, and it is definitely one of the wines that collectors go after. It is famous for its role in traditional Old World Bordeaux wines such as Château Mouton Rothschild, Château Latour, and Château Margaux, as well as New World wines from California like Screaming Eagle, Bryant Family, Colgin. These remain among the most sought after wines in the world. Fortunately, you don't have to mortgage the house to buy a good Cab. There are some great ones available at significantly cheaper prices.

Popular Dinner Choice

Cabernet Sauvignon is the red wine drinker's main choice to pair with food. Americans tend to drink more Merlot than any other red wine; however, at dinner in restaurants Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular wine sold. Most hearty meats and dishes pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Characteristics

A classic Cabernet possesses a dark berry and cassis aroma. What sets this wine apart from other reds is the earthy, vegetal nuances that appear. A typical bouquet in the nose of a Cab is sweet green pepper and other vegetal aromas, which may sound bad but in a small amount it adds to the complexity. Because Cab spends more time in oak than most other varietals, the oak-derived aromas are deep and integrated, including vanilla, coffee, chocolate, toast, butterscotch. When it's all put together, you have a very deep, dark, complex wine.

Best Cabernet Sauvignons under $25

You don't have to buy the $100+ Cabs to be able to drink good wine. There are some fabulous Cabs to look for under $25:

  • Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet. This wine is consistent year in and year out. It's their basic Cabernet. For the price, it's hard to beat. This wine shows classic vanilla and subtle spice and the fruit is the ripe berry, dark cassis that Cab lovers like. Rodney Strong is a large producer…the benefit to that is you can find this wine almost everywhere. You can expect to pay anywhere from $12 to $22 for this bottle, but try looking at your favorite inexpensive wine places first.
  • Lake Sonoma Winery makes an inexpensive Cab that is quite enjoyable. Owned by Korbel (the sparkling wine house), this winery has a tasting room in Healdsburg, CA if you're in the area. This wine is a lighter-bodied Cab, but the dark fruit is still prominent. This wine will go very well with lighter fare.
  • Windsor Vineyards sneaks under the radar quite often because they are mostly a mail-order only operation. They make a plethora of wines that span the whole gamut: from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, sparkling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Carignane, Merlot…you name it. But since they don't really distribute and rely on their scores from wine competitions and direct sales to get the word out, it works quite well for them. If you buy wine from them you can even have a personal label made, which great for gifts. There are many Cabs that fit the price point that they make: Paso Robles, North Coast, and Mendocino County. The Mendocino County is similar to a classic Bordeaux in that it has the green pepper nuance with the lush fruit on the palate. It's dark and tannic, which lends to being able to lay these wines down for quite some time.
  • Geyser Peak Winery constantly produces wines that do quite well in wine competitions. Their Alexander Valley Cabernet is no exception. This wine has wonderful lush, ripe dark fruit flavors, but it's easy to drink because it's so soft and smooth on the palate, making it a "drink now" wine. This is a good wine with sirloin right off the grill and the combination is fantastic. At $18 a bottle, this is a good wine for those who don't care for the heavier tannin content containing in some other Cabs.
  • Root 1: This Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon comes in at under $10, but gets kudos around the wine world for its highly concentrated lush fruit flavors born of a hot, dry climate.

Just the Beginning

As always, this list is just a starting point. Go out and find some special value finds of your own and create your own list of the best Cabernet Sauvignons under $25. Half the fun is exploring and discovering a gem that you too can share with friends and family. Enjoy!

5 Best Cabernet Sauvignons Under $25