I Tested The SAQ's 5 Highest-Rated Cheap Wines On My Party Guests & There Was A Clear Winner

It's a fave from Jacob's Creek, but can you guess which one?

Staff Writer
The test wines, empty, lying on a bed of snow. Right: The chart used to calculate average scores.

The test wines, empty, lying on a bed of snow. Right: The chart used to calculate average scores.

Willa Holt | MTL Blog

Wine is great, but cheap wine is sublime. After determining the five highest-rated, cheapest wines at the SAQ, I knew it was time to test my work by bringing in a team of (unpaid) test subjects to taste and review the chosen beverages. After an evening of extensive trial and revelry, we determined a final ranking of the five champion wines. The verdict? It's worth the splurge to get a red that tastes good, if you catch my drift.

The initial selection process was simple: the wines had to have over 100 ratings that averaged to above four stars, and they had to be available at the nearest large SAQ — for me, it was at the Complexe Angrignon. All five wines were easy to find, but only some were easy to drink.

Once I had selected my test subjects, or "friends," we established a rigorous methodology for determining which was best. First, we all tasted each wine. Then, we collectively brainstormed tasting notes before deciding on a raw score from one to five. These scores were averaged, and those final numbers determined the final verdict on each wine.

It's time to unveil the results of this scientific trial, starting from the very worst: the reds.

Castillo de Almansa Reserva

SAQ Rating: 4.3/5

Home Test Score: 2/5

Tasting Notes: This red wine was an unpleasant tasting experience for most of my lab assistants, with one describing the flavour as "smoky" with "burnt wildfire notes" while noting an aroma of propane. Another guest simply wrote, "What the f*** EW" on our lab records. Okay, it's a chalkboard wall, but that's basically science equipment. It should be noted that one participant gave this wine four stars, but he also rated the crowd favourite a two, so make of that what you will.

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Confessions Cabernet Sauvignon

SAQ Rating: 4.4/5

Home Test Score: 2.8/5

Tasting Notes: This acidic, tannic red was described as such by my test subjects, who also noted that the wine "smells like raspberries" with notes of dark chocolate and tobacco. One participant took the opportunity to crack wise, writing "I confess: I hate this." Of the two cheap red wines selected for this trial, this was the definite favourite — but that's not much of an endorsement.

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Listel Terres du Midi Grain de Gris

SAQ Rating: 4.6/5

Home Test Score: 2.9/5

Tasting Notes: Though it only narrowly defeated the Confessions Cab Sauv, this rosé received much more positive tasting notes. It was celebrated for its "refreshing aftertaste" and light body, although one guest described the wine as tasting of "watery dry tannins." The rosé also had notes of raspberry vinegar, not an unpleasant image despite the wine's middling standings.

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Aveleda Vinho Verde

SAQ Rating: 4.5/5

Home Test Score: 3.8/5

Tasting Notes: From the reds and rosé, this white jumps nearly a full point in its home score. Widely enjoyed by my houseguests, this inexpensive wine was judged "tart" and "green," with a strong acidity leaning towards astringency. With "Granny Smith apple notes," this wine stands head above the rest — except for one.

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Jacob's Creek Moscato

SAQ Rating: 4.3/5

Home Test Score: 4.4/5

Tasting Notes: By far the winner of the evening, this was unfortunately the first wine we tried, so everything was downhill after this shining star. The Moscato was "sweet," nigh "syrupy," and went down easily, although this was in part due to its low percentage of alcohol at only 7.5%. Of this undeniably enjoyable drink, one guest wrote simply, "I <3 U!" That's more than can be said for many low-price alcoholic beverages, making this wine a resounding success. It was the only wine to receive a higher home test score than its crowdsourced SAQ rating.

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MTL Blog does not condone the overconsumption of alcohol or other substances. If you're going to drink alcohol or consume cannabis, please do so responsibly and only if you're of legal age.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Willa Holt
Staff Writer
Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused on apartments for rent and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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