Inexpensive Wines and Student Loans – Ask Steve – Episode 1

This week on Ask Steve I answer reader and viewer questions on how to find an inexpensive wine and what to do about student loans if you are unemployed.

In the first question my team and I tasted ten of the least expensive wines in an attempt to find some good deals for little money. Surprisingly, there were some quite drinkable offerings in the lot and you’ll find the results of the tasting below.

Wines were selected like this, “Hi, can you point me to your ten cheapest wines, some reds and some whites?” The wine warehouse guy then kindly helped me find a sampling of the least expensive wines they had among their vast selection. He also mentioned that the jug wines by Carlo Rossi were an exceptional value even though they came in a big jug and not the standard sized bottle. So I grabbed one of each of those as well.

Wine Tasting Results

White Wines

Unscientific Results
River Road Chardonnay – $9.99
SR – 1
PR – NEGATIVE 10 “nasty”
AM – NEGATIVE 3 “shit”

This was included because the wine guy said it was their most popular wine they sold.

Mallee Point Chardonnay – $5.99
SR – 5 “little tart”
PR – 3 “good, fruity, mellow”
AM – 3 “metaly”
Canyon Oaks Chardonnay – $4.99
SR – 0
PR – 0 “bites back”
AM – 0 “liquified metal”
Double Dog Dare Chardonnay – $3.99
SR – 3
PR – 1 “smells like asparagus pee”
AM – 2 “heartburn city”
Summerfield Chardonnay – $5.99
SR – 3 “more tart”
PR – 2 “tangy”
AM – 1 “BAD!”
Carlos Rossi Rhine – $9.99 (4 Litres) – Top of the Class
SR – 7
PR – 5 “applely sweet”
AM – 5 “tacky”

Red Wines

Unscientific Results
Double Dog Dare White Zinfandel – $2.97 – That’s Not Too Bad
SR – 6 “like it”
PR – 3 “fruity yet dry”
AM – 3 “metaly”
Mallee Point Merlot – $5.99
SR – 4 “chalky”
PR – NEGATIVE 2 “hearty smell, chalky”
AM – 1 “chalky”
Canyon Oaks Merlot – $4.99
SR – 3
PR – NEGATIVE 10 “nasty”
AM -1 “ick”
Double Dog Dare Merlot – $3.99
SR – 3
PR – NEGATIVE 4 “nasty”
AM – 0
Pacific Peak Merlot – $2.67 – Top of the Class
SR – 6.5
PR – 4
AM – 5.5
Carlos Rossi Paisano – 9.99 (4 Litres) – Top of the Class
SR – 7
PR – 6 “lovely smell”
AM – 6


Favorites were both Carlos Rossi jugs (Rhine and Paisano – $9.99 each), the Pacific Peak Merlot ($2.67) and the Double Dog Dare White Zinfandel ($2.97).


Our first question is from Marianne, and Marianne asks:

Marianne: Steve, I need to sit down with my husband and discuss our finances. I’m a little nervous, though, because money is not something we enjoy talking about. I saw once on the site you recommended sitting down with a bottle of wine and openly talking about debt. With money being so tight is wine really an option?

Steve: Well, Marianne, if you enjoy a good bottle of wine and it helps you to ease your way into an open conversation, then sitting down with a bottle of vino is by all means a reasonable idea. I embarked on a project to taste ten of the least expensive wines to see which were worth spending a few bucks on.

Yeah, we really took one for the team there for you tasting all those and granted some did taste horrid. But there were some decent wines at great prices that I found.

At first a trip to the wine warehouse seemed overwhelming, and while there are many bottles that can break a fragile wallet, there are some good ones and expensive as well. The final results from the research found that the jug wines from Carlo Rossi were exceptional deals and very consumable. But there are some good wines for about five bucks. I’ll post the results and the details of our wine tasking online to help you frugally make it through that conversation about debt.

YouTube comment.

“Steve, I have $48,000 in student loans, and I’m currently unemployed. Please help.”

Well, student loans and taxes are the worst types of debt you can owe. Both student loans and tax collectors seem frightening, and they can certainly be intimidating if you let them. The fear prevents people from calling and talking to the collectors, but fear is not reality. And not calling them when you’re behind does not change the fact that you are behind and they already know that. If you have government backed student loans, then there are much better options for working something out than if you owed private student loans. When I hear the expression “take no prisoners, take no prisoners, take no prisoners,” I always think of private student loan lenders.

My advice is to call the Department of Education or your student loan servicer and find out what options are available to help you through this unemployment period without defaulting on your loans. Once you do find a new job and you will, then talk to the student loan folks about the income-based repayment program and get a graduated repayment plan that’s based on your income rather than fiction.

If you have a question you’d like to submit, do not hesitate to ask. You can ask a question here, or you can ask a question on the website at GetOutOfDebt.org. You can also ask a question by emailing me at asksteve@getoutofdebt.org.

I’d like to point out, given the nature of these videos and personal situations, I will not be releasing any full names, user names, or locations of those who ask questions. If you ask a question via the YouTube channel, I will send you a response if your question has been answered rather than broadcasting your user name.

As always, be sure to subscribe for the most up-to-date videos and information. See you next time, and remember, be sure to practice safe debt.

This has been a Get Out Of Debt production. In the event of a debt emergency, walk, do not run to the nearest computer.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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