Cost: Average price $6.99

Where buy now: Everywhere, if you hit a great sale, this baby can get as low as $5!

Grapes: 100% Tempranillo

Region: La Mancha, Spain

Vintage: 2009


So, I was in a conundrum last Friday night. A friend, we’ll call him “Matt” (because that’s his name) was coming over and insisted he pick up some wine en route. Yes! Unexpected wine donation! Predictably, though, I was then asked, “Well, what should I get?”.

Ugh, that all-important question. Where do I even start? “What store are you hitting?” “What’s your price range?” “Are you going for quality, quantity, or both?” “What other wines are we going to follow up with?” I hemmed and hawed. I sighed and stammered. [Awkward!] Decisive wine selection is a crucial skill, as trying to come up with _the_ perfect_wine_ inevitably leads to disappointment.  If only there was a simple, inexpensive, yet gratifying wine, ideal for most any situation.

Well, I’ve found it.

Let me introduce you to one of THE best inexpensive red wines out there: Protocolo Red. An unassuming Spanish table wine, this is a quintessential “Skank” (but only in good ways- not in a “you need me to stick a Q-tip _where_?!?!” kind of way), and often my ace in the hole. [Oooh, poor choice of wording, there.]

I first bought Protocolo Red from Solo Vino years ago. Short on cash, and with 3 other bottles already in tow, I saw this baby for $6 and swiped it up. My expectations were low, but after one sip, I knew I’d found a winner. Was this just the mystique of low expectations at work? I saw it again and again at different stores and bought it, again and again. This wasn’t just a fleeting fancy, nor a coincidence. This is typically one of the bottles I grab when money is tight, or if I just want “one more bottle”.

This wine is very easy to drink, a solid table wine that can be paired with many types of foods. Like so many of my favorite reds, this one sports a dark cherry fruit redolence, a little earth, a bit of oak. With it’s mild-medium finish and pleasant amount of dryness, it isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is, which is key.

What makes this wine so inexpensive? I did some digging (well, I went to my human wine encyclopedia, Jason). Check out what he and his compadres are doing: Wine Co He informed me that a major reason we are seeing consistently delicious Spanish wines with an affordable price tag is because they have more vineyard acreage than any other country. Protocolo hails from the dry highlands of Central Spain, known as La Mancha. Surprisingly, this small region produces more wine than the entire country of Australia! However, Spain isn’t number one in wine production, or even number two- those top spots go to France, then Italy. This is because the old vines in Spain produce less fruit, and therefore, lend themselves to higher quality wine. This page explains it well: Anorak

Are you seeing a pattern here? I am: Win/Win!

“He likes it! Hey Mikey!” By gosh, the kid dug it and that made me grin. (Perhaps I shouldn’t call him a kid, as he’s only slightly younger, and recently referred to himself as a “grown-ass man”.) I’m tickled he is digging on wine right now, and knew Protocolo would serve as a proper gateway vino.

12 thoughts on “Protocolo”

  1. I’m sipping some from a mason jar right now… got it from Whole Foods for $8. I like it!! I read your review while standing in the Spanish wine isle wondering what to get… Thanks!

    1. Hi April ~

      Thanks for commenting! Glad I could be some cyber help for you. 😉 Spanish and Portuguese wines are so hot right now! Great wines for great prices. This Protocolo was my gate-way Spanish wine. Cheers, love!


  2. I’m sipping a glass of the 2009 red right now. I just bought it for the first time (attracted by the price tag and the unfamiliarity) and the first sip left me wondering if I ought to take it back. The owner of the little wine shop near my house would let me swap it for something else.
    Something didn’t taste right. Or maybe it was me—maybe I just didn’t like it.
    So I decided to look it up and landed on your blog (which I’ll now bookmark!). While doing this, I sipped a few more times, and I DID have a “Hey Mikey!” moment.
    This wine is great. I don’t know what was wrong w/the first sip, but I’ll buy it again. I drink almost exclusively Spanish reds (and roses, now), just about every day. I’ll definitely add this to the rotation. I like what you said about it–it’s all true.

    1. Hey Melissa!

      Thanks for commenting. Super glad you gave this lil’ wine another chance. Even when I have few shekels to my name, I can scrape together enough for a bottle of Protocolo. 😉

      Favorite Spanish wines. . .I absolutely adore Viña Ardanza Rioja! Rio Madre, 100% graciano grapes, is delicious. I love their Rosé that just hit the shelves, too. Clio Jumilla, if you want higher end. Any Viña Tondonia wines are solid bottles of yumminess, too. Juan Gil Dry Muscat has been a pleasant surprise for party-goers and it’s very food friendly. Castillo de Jumilla have monastrel/tempranillo blends that are bang-for-buck plus their rose is pretty killer. I have a few Spanish white wines I love: La Caña Albariño, Zestos Malvar and Muga are my go-to patio sippers in the Summer. Muga Rosé is in my Rosé rotation every year, too. Gosh – I could keep going but I’ll stop as I’ve listed faves!

      I’m also digging Portugese wines as well. Solid wines and most often, under $15!

      I have not tried La Maldita. I’m unsure if I’ve seen it. I’ll have to look for it on your recommendation. I love Garnacha!

      Again, a thousand thanks for reading and commenting! Have a stellar weekend.


    2. I purchased this recently from a local wine shop and the owner told me the preference is to decanter it, for an hour. He said it taste good after a few minutes, but letting it breathe for a little while helps the taste balance properly.

      1. Hi Dina,
        Thanks for a great tip to further enjoy this bang-for-buck vino!

  3. And may I ask—–what are some of your favorite Spanish wines?
    I wonder if you have tried La Maldita (a garnacha from Rioja). It’s a huge favorite of mine right now, and it’s good in similar way to this wine.

  4. This has been my favorite wine for SEVEN years. I don’t know how I stumbled upon it but it has always been my go-to.

    1. Dear Michelle,

      Thanks for commenting! My apologies on the delayed response. Protocolo is definitely a fail-safe wine at that price point. Glad you dig it, too.

      Happy drinking,

  5. I was at a wine tasting in Colorado in 2009 when I was introduced to the amazing Protocolo. Can’t put a finger on the taste of that first sip? The purveyor said they had a small fire at the vinyard which gives it that Smokey after taste! The plants pulled in that smoke and walla 🙂 amazing!

    1. Dear Pamela,

      Thanks for commenting! Interesting, thanks for sharing about the vineyard fire. I was all thinking it was aged in oak when it wasn’t. Perhaps this was the culprit. Either way, it’s a stupid-good deal for this wine. Glad you dig it, too.


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