The Trader Joe's near me has a Jadot Beaujolais that I think is quite nice for $10.99. They also have a Marques de Caceres Rioja for about the same price that I like a lot.
HalfPint is a trusted home cook.
Define budget-friendly. For me, budget friendly is anything under $40/bottle. That said, a friend of mine always advises to buy wines that have a Parker rating of 90 or higher. He says that you often can't go wrong with these wines. I believe that Wholefoods does display the rating of a wine. Trader Joe's can be spotty with display, but you can always do a quick search and find the rating of most wines (though not all). Good luck!
Castle Rock Pinot Noir should be about $7. It's a good price point and VERY drinkable. I have it almost every night. I actually need a new cab right now!
BTW, I'm not as picky as the person who answered before me; but the Castle Rock Pinot has a rating of 89.
Even though Wholefoods and Trader Joes have surpassed Safeway, Publix, Kroger's etc. in selection and their selection may be greater in bottles than local fine wine merchants they still typically only fill their stores with two types of wine..."cherries" which are the highly rated wines in short supply that will sell out at most any price. These are good wines but never really represent value because of basic supply and demand. The only other kind of wine they really want to buy are wines they get extreme price advantages on for agreeing to buy a certain quantity of or for putting up a display of in a prime location. These wines while usually well priced are typically very ordinary and therefore really don't offer value either. You will typically find much better value in wine at a good local fine wine merchant.
So to answer a person's question below (and by the way, thanks to everyone who responded so far), "budget-friendly" is a flexible term--I'd say <$40 is about right. (I got confused with the tag keyboarding, which is why my question appears three times.)
Interesting note about the pros of local wine merchants. I'll have look around for some. Thanks for the ideas.
A local independent wine store will likely have staff who can lend excellent advice. And they may even chip in on your donation.
AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
I agree that the extra money you'll spend at a good, independent wine merchant is well worth it, paying your back many times over in value. You should be able to get some great wines for under $40! Ask for friendly, drinkable wines. At that price, there will be many. And don't wait for the merchant to offer a donation; ask for one! For years I created gift baskets for our school auctions filled with anything and everything I wanted to put in them, with just about everything donated, simply by asking the local merchants. The first rule of negotiating (I do it for a living): boldly ask for what you want and nothing less! ;o)
If you are a Costco member, you can often find nice wines at about 30% off wine store prices. The selection varies region by region and even store by store.
Hmm, not sure what those two stores will stock, but Menage a Trois is always a good bet.
I've found items to donated to Silent Auctions, unless highly prized, rarely bring in the cost. Your auction might be different. Maybe look at non-wine items, like Homemade Cheese Slate boards. Glasses. Bar ware etc. In fact here's a handy guide for making your own slate boards for super cheap. (about 2 bucks each)...print out the usage instructions, include dust free chalk, wrap with twine and sell them for 15-20 each.
Include the care and use guide printed as pictured on this page.
Take at least 3 days to coat/dry/coat before donating them:
All the more reason to seek a donation, don't you think? The merchant gets a deduction at cost, which as you suggest, may not be far from the price received at auction.
Wines are the only items we can donate to the auction (it's a series of meals; and the wines will sell for $25/bottle), unless we donate a good or service. Ordinarily, the suggestion to try asking merchants for donations is excellent; however, in this case, I can understand them having misgivings, because there won't necessarily be display cards. I am late in joining the organization, and have never been to an event, so am unsure of the details. Many thanks to everyone who has provided thoughts here. I feel less in the dark.
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