So much wine, so little time! There are so many delicious wines out there, so many varieties, so many price points, so many pairings, so many . . . it’s overwhelming (and I am easily overwhelmed). While I’d love to regularly pop open the really good stuff, my budget won’t allow for that and I’ll need to save it for a special occasion. Like so many, I love a good Cab. They are so smooth and easy to drink, and definitely my go-to when I just want an easy choice. Here are my personal favorites, from least to most expensive. Some are just great values, some are so smooth and delicious, some are both. So here we go.

BOGLE VINEYARDS CABERNET SAUVIGNON – $10

 If you’re looking for pure value, Bogle is so good for the price point and consistently earns awards such as Wine Enthusiast’s Best Buy. The website describes the 2021 Cab: “Notes of cherry, plum & currant with hints of clove, nutmeg and burnt caramel resulting from aging in American oak barrels.” This is a staple on our Total Wine list; you just can’t beat it for only $10. P.S. the Merlot is pretty good, too! Pair with value books on Kindle Unlimited or inexpensive finds on Amazon. Authors who have at least a few books on KU or low-priced on Amazon include Louise Bay (Doctor series is cute), Sarah Bennett (loved Where We Belong), Hannah Bonam-Young, Catherine Bybee, Tarah DeWitt, Alexis Hall (Something Fabulous is hilarious, as is Boyfriend Material), Claire Kingsley (the Dirty Martini Series rocks), Leonie Mack (I’ve loved every one of her books so far), and Mimi Matthews (her clean regency romances still have all the chemistry).   

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon - $15

Very easy to drink and priced under $15 (and sometimes less at Costco—it’s often on our list), Rodney Strong is another good value. It’s described on the website as “rich with dark cherry, plum and baking spices. The delicious fruit is accompanied by black pepper notes, crushed violet and cassis. The palate has medium tannins, lingering spicy oak flavors with a velvety lush finish. Enjoy this Cabernet Sauvignon now with a grilled steak, rack of lamb or grilled winter vegetables.” Pair With: More value books on Amazon and/or Kindle Unlimited, like Miriam Minger (steamy highlands, yes please), Lilian Monroe (Heart’s Cove series is so fun), Kate O’Keeffe (clean rom-coms), Devney Perry (sweet and spice combination), Jenny Proctor (more clean rom-coms), Elsie Silver (Chestnut Springs series), Minerva Spencer (regency romance), Tracy Sumner (steamy regency romance), Mariana Zapata (slow burn).

So much wine, so little time! There are so many delicious wines out there, so many varieties, so many price points, so many pairings, so many . . . it’s overwhelming (and I am easily overwhelmed). While I’d love to regularly pop open the really good stuff, my budget won’t allow for that and I’ll need to save it for a special occasion. Like so many, I love a good Cab. They are so smooth and easy to drink, and definitely my go-to when I just want an easy choice. Here are my personal favorites, from least to most expensive. Some are just great values, some are so smooth and delicious, some are both. So here we go.

Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon – $10

  If you’re looking for pure value, Bogle is so good for the price point and consistently earns awards such as Wine Enthusiast’s Best Buy. The website describes the 2021 Cab: “Notes of cherry, plum & currant with hints of clove, nutmeg and burnt caramel resulting from aging in American oak barrels.” This is a staple on our Total Wine list; you just can’t beat it for only $10. P.S. the Merlot is pretty good, too! Pair with value books on Kindle Unlimited or inexpensive finds on Amazon. Authors who have at least a few books on KU or low-priced on Amazon include Louise Bay (Doctor series is cute), Sarah Bennett (loved Where We Belong), Hannah Bonam-Young, Catherine Bybee, Tarah DeWitt, Alexis Hall (Something Fabulous is hilarious, as is Boyfriend Material), Claire Kingsley (the Dirty Martini Series rocks), Leonie Mack (I’ve loved every one of her books so far), and Mimi Matthews (her clean regency romances still have all the chemistry).    

Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon – $15

Very easy to drink and priced under $15 (and sometimes less at Costco—it’s often on our list), Rodney Strong is another good value. It’s described on the website as “rich with dark cherry, plum and baking spices. The delicious fruit is accompanied by black pepper notes, crushed violet and cassis. The palate has medium tannins, lingering spicy oak flavors with a velvety lush finish. Enjoy this Cabernet Sauvignon now with a grilled steak, rack of lamb or grilled winter vegetables.” Pair With: More value books on Amazon and/or Kindle Unlimited, like Miriam Minger (steamy highlands, yes please), Lilian Monroe (Heart’s Cove series is so fun), Kate O’Keeffe (clean rom-coms), Devney Perry (sweet and spice combination), Jenny Proctor (more clean rom-coms), Elsie Silver (Chestnut Springs series), Minerva Spencer (regency romance), Tracy Sumner (steamy regency romance), Mariana Zapata (slow burn).  

Grounded Wine Company Cabernet Sauvignon – $18

Another great value for your money from a company that bills itself as “Grounded in heritage, grounded in soil, grounded in simplicity.” https://www.groundedwineco.com/wines/. The website gives a description of the 2020 vintage:              A moderately warm summer throughout our Central Coast and Northern Interior vineyards allowed us to ripen our fruit over an extended period, resulting in the gradual development of enhanced dark fruit flavors and tannins. Our Central Coast blocks were the last ones picked, in late October, when cool night temperatures helped the fruit retain good color and acidity. If you want higher-end, Grounded’s Steady State Napa Cabernet ($65) is really nice. Here’s what the website says about the 2021 vintage:            The 2021 growing season at our Oak Knoll vineyard was one of the driest on record, yet rainfall in late winter and early spring helped build good soil moisture. Budbreak was late and staved off the risk of frost, and consistently warm, dry summer weather led to modestly sized canopies and lower than average per-vine yields. Cluster sizes and berry weights were therefore small, which translated into very concentrated color and flavors when we hand-harvested our Cabernet Sauvignon in the very early morning hours of September 30th. So if you’re looking for a nice Cabernet at either price point, the Grounded wines are well worth considering! Pair with books with characters who are grounded themselves, such as Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez (Daniel is an absolute dream and my new favorite book boyfriend), Book Lovers by Emily Henry (both main characters are great—reasonable people but definitely still fun), Damaged Goods by Talia Hibbert (Samir is also a fave book BF), Flirting With Forever by Claire Kingsley (Dex has such a presence), It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas, The Cottage by the Shore by Rachael Lucas (mostly chill characters who love the small village life), A Taste of Italian Sunshine (Tiziano is adorable and prosecco is life), and Bohemian by Kathryn Nolan (lovely theme of focusing on the authentic and staying away from the fake).

Simi Cabernet Sauvignon – $20

Another wine that’s a great value for your money—typically under $20 and widely available. The Simi website describes it as “Opens with dark plum, black cherry and sweet toasty oak with savory spice notes and a hint of black pepper. On the palate, plush berry fruit with some dried blueberry and a hint of violet, followed with dark chocolate/cocoa and cola spice. Generous finish with chewy tannins.” Another great thing about Simi? A long history of successful women in charge, starting with Isabelle Simi herself. So consider pairing your glass of Simi with some books tat give off some real boss energy, such as Unfortunately Yours by Tessa Bailey (Natalie kicked butt in NYC and kicks butt in the wine world too), Gray Hair Don’t Care by Karen Booth (Lela starts her own beauty company), Beginning of Forever by Catherine Bybee (Emma outsmarts her misogynistic dad and gets going on her own business); Funny Feelings by Tarah DeWitt (Farley is a stand-up comedian); The Year of Cecily by Lisa Lin (Cecily kicks butt in corporate law), Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score (Maggie rolls into town to renovate an historical mansion), and Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker (Piper sticks it to some slimy old boys and takes over a huge real estate firm).  

The Prisoner Wine Company Unshackled 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon – $26

A fun name and a really nice Cabernet with some Malbec, Petit Sirah, Syrah, and Merlot, it’s described as “youthful and fresh with aromas of blackberry, blackcurrants, and a hint of olive tapenade. The palate is filled with more dark stone notes, subtle clove, and dried herbs with soft but structured tannins.” https://theprisonerwinecompany.com/products/2021-unshackled-cabernet-sauvignon-california. The Unshackled line is really intriguing and explains that it’s a “California wine brand for those who would rather express themselves than conform.” So many places to go with book pairings! This wine made me think of artists and people who march to their own drums, like Hazel from Josh & Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren, Mac from Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley, Billie from Snap Out of It by Maddie Dawson, Zephyr from Rules of an Engagement by Suzanne Enoch, and Hallie from Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey. And of course, Prisoner Wine Company also evokes our favorite devious (maybe) criminals, prisoners, or crime-fighters, like Brax from Possession by Brynne Asher, Bowen from Risking It All by Tessa Bailey, Fellowes from the MacKenzies & McBrides series by Jennifer Ashley, and Joss from The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen.  

My Favorite Neighbor Cabernet Sauvignon – $50

I grabbed a bottle of this at Costco for $45 and am so glad I did! It’s also become kind of a cult classic (though available all over the place). You definitely feel the warmth of a nice cab when it goes down, and there’s a lovely combination of some cherry and spice with a hint of a smoky feel. The 2018-2019 vintages garnered 95s and 96s from various publications, and I have to agree! Pair With: Books about neighbors such as The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest, A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Natalie Caña, In a Jam by Kate Canterbary, Running Into You by K.M. Gillis, Flirting With Forever by Claire Kingsley, The Rogue to Ruin by Vivienne Lorret, The Cottage by the Shore by Rachael Lucas, What Happens in London by Julia Quinn, Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson, and When It Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee.  

La Pelle Cabernet Sauvignon – $80

I was lucky enough to try a glass of this at my local wine shop/bar, and it was divine! It’s not cheap, but I expected it to be much more than $80 when I tasted it, so of course I had to take a bottle home. Wine Enthusiast’s Virginie Boone rated it a 95 and said, “This is another stunning vintage of this small-production wine, the result of a partnership between Winemaker Maayan Koschitzky and wine growers Miguel Luna and Pete Richmond. Ageable and structured, it opens in dark, brooding tannin, oak and sage, with a thickness to the palate. Notes of crushed rock and iron complement layers of cassis and black cherry.” If you can find it, I highly recommend! Pair with “small production” books that maybe aren’t that well-known (fewer than 1,000 ratings on Goodreads for now) but are fantastic, such as A Rulebook for Restless Rogues by Jess Everlee, Running Into You by K.M. Gillis, Come As You Are by Jess K. Hardy, All the Right Notes by Dominic Lim, Mickey Chambers Shakes It Up by Charish Reid, Shelter by the Sea by Elena Aitken, Love Ad Lib by Evie Alexander, and The Rachel Experiment by Lisa Lin.  

Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon – $100+

Our Christmas dinner—we wanted something really nice for the holiday and don’t often open something over $100. It has a lot of complexity and even the non-wine lovers loved it. From the website: “The 2019 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has notes of red cherry, raspberry, blackberry, iris, vanilla and clove. Ruby in color, this elegant wine has great acidity and lift on the mid-palate. Black currant and warm baking spices linger with a deep and fruity finish. It will provide drinking pleasure through 2047 given proper cellaring.” Pair with book that have fancy characters or expensive wine, such as Happy Place by Emily Henry (although summer wines might work better for this book), Beginning of Forever by Catherine Bybee, Landlord Wars by Jules Barnard, Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez, The Stopover by T.L. Swan, and Unexpectedly Mine by Erin Hawkins.  

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