Barefoot wines (again): Value or just cheap?


This post originally appeared in 2010. See the reviews below for the most current Barefoot posts:

Barefoot wine review 2020: Rose and Riesling
Barefoot wine review 2019
Barefoot wine review 2018
Barefoot wine review 2017

The second most popular item on the blog this year was something I wrote more than two years ago, a post that asked whether the $6 line of Barefoot wines offered value or were just cheap.

In one respect, this isn’t surprising. That Barefoot post has always been popular — the fifth most visited in 2008 and the fourth most in 2009. What is surprising is that a 2 1/2-year-old post is still being read, and that so few people who who write about wine in the cyber ether have noticed this. You can see for yourself. Do a Google search, and hardly any reviews written about Barefoot in the last couple of years show up on the first page. And if the results don’t show up on the first page, then they’re irrelevant as far as the Internet is concerned.

A few thoughts about what this means for consumers, and my take on the current Barefoot merlot.

This year, that Barefoot post accounted for 3 1/2 percent of the hits on the blog. Which, frankly, is amazing. Since I started doing this in November 2007, I have written almost 900 items. Almost none of them have done that well in one year, and the ones that have are current posts like this year’s $10 Hall of Fame or reviews for wines that are popular here, like the Tormaresca Neprica.

But Barefoot? A $6 wine from E&J Gallo, the company that the Winestream Media loves to turn its nose up at? How can that be?

A couple of reasons. The most important is the recession. We have reams of data showing that consumers have traded down to less expensive wines, but reams of data are often difficult to understand. So how about this? Two-thirds of this blog’s visitors make more than $60,000 a year, and almost three-quarters of them have at least a college degree, according to Quantcast. In other words, they’re the people who make marketing types salivate. And they want to read about $6 wine this year more than ever before. (Ironically, though the Wine Spectator’s audience makes more money than mine does, I have more women and my readers are better educated.)

Which leads to the second reason. There aren’t a lot of other people writing about Barefoot, let alone $6 wine. But I do it. It’s my reason for being, and the post shows up on Google when visitors search for Barefoot. And, frankly, I should have written something about Barefoot before this, given the numbers. And if I didn’t, and I’m supposed to, no one else is going to.

That’s because no one thinks they’re going to become a famous wine writer by writing about Barefoot. And, sadly, too many people who do this want to become famous wine writers. Or already consider themselves famous wine writers who are above reviewing $6 wine. That there is an audience for that kind of writing doesn’t really matter to them, since their audience isn’t people who drink wine but people they want to impress.

Me? I long ago gave up trying to impress anyone. Here, it’s all about the wine, as it should be. And the current Barefoot merlot ($6, sample) is the kind of wine that drives “wine writers” crazy. It’s simple and very fruity (the back label says boysenberry, but it’s probably closer to a generic dark berry). But it’s also balanced and professionally made. There are no off flavors or obvious flaws. Interestingly, it’s both food-friendly and fruity enough to drink on its own, and wouldn’t suffer in the least if it was served chilled or with an ice cube or two. Drink it with everything from hamburgers to takeout pizza.

In this, it’s as well done as most $10 California merlot, and if you like $10 California merlot, then the Barefoot is your kind of wine. Call it American vin ordinaire, the U.S. equivalent of the wine the French pick up at the corner store with the baguette on their way home from work (and a tip o’ the Curmudgeon’s fedora to L. Kleinpeter for making me notice that). Is it an award winner? Nope, though it has won awards, oddly enough. It is as nifty as the $10 Hall of Fame wines? I don’t think so, though this Barefoot will give me pause when I do the 2011 list.

So call it a value, and wonder why more of the wine world doesn’t pay attention to it.

46 thoughts on “Barefoot wines (again): Value or just cheap?

  • By VintageTexas -

    You bring up a good point, not on the Barefoot wine, but why certain blogs seem to be continually popular. On VintageTexas, my top three blogs have closely space stats and rarely change month to month over the past two plus years. They are:
    The Wine in Spain Comes Mainly with the Cuisine (Notes about my travels to Spain and its wine)
    Texas Black Spanish ??? The Grape Otherwise Known as Lenoir (A retrospective on this “Texas” grape)
    What Texas Wine Goes with the ???Big Apple??? (Notes from my Texas wine dinner in NYC)
    I’ve been thinking about it, but it still i beyond me why these.

  • By Jeff Siegel -

    I think this is as much a function of the way the Internet works as anything else, Russ. It’s all about the words that go in the Google search box. Put in Barefoot wines, and my post comes up. Put in Texas black Spanish, and your post comes up.
    And, since hardly anyone else writes about the things we write about, we get the search results.

    • By Matt Lawler -

      it’s 2017 and this post is still on the first page!

      • By Wine Curmudgeon -

        I’ve written about this several times,and it has more to do with the way Google works than anything.

        Plus, why people don’t go to the current review when they get to the page is a mystery.

  • By SimplyAmy -

    I love the Barefoot wines. What surprised me about the wines the most was when I tried the Merlot. I’m not a fan of Merlot period, but Barefoot’s take on it was surprisingly refreshing. Moscato is my favorite. And I think all around Barefoot does a fantastic job of producing great wines while also being a responsible company which gives back to the community and that’s important to me. I enjoyed your review. 🙂

    • By Kim -

      We must have identical tastebuds! I love love Moscato, but I’m rapidly becoming a BIG fan of Merlot!

      • By Wine Curmudgeon -

        Try as many different kinds of wine as you can — who knows what you may like?

    • By GINA ADAMS -

      Absolutely. The Rosa red blend is good.

  • By Jeff Siegel -

    Thanks for the kind words, Amy. I think what you described is Barefoot’s strength — the company makes wine that appeal to people, even if they don’t like a certain varietal.

  • By Jenna -

    I like the Barefoot wines-they have a few I don’t care for (the Sweet Red is almost syrupy) but their Moscato is my favorite white wine (I don’t care for whites, in general) and I keep a bottle on hand almost all the time. Their Zinfandel is very nice. Love it for summer cook-outs. I haven’t tried their Cab yet or the Merlot, but so far the roses and whites get my vote for best wine bargain.

  • By Annie -

    Can’t stand the Barefoot wines…taste cheap to me. I would rather pay $8 more and enjoy my bottle.

    • By bob -

      I’m a melot fan and tried your barefoot’s unquestionably the worst tasting most bitter thing I have ever do you get any with calling it the most awarded wine?

      • By Wine Curmudgeon -

        The awarded thing is what Barefoot says, not me.

        Also, as I have pointed out many times, these wines are made to hit a price point, not to taste a certain way, so there is very little consistency in the winemaking. One vintage could be significantly different than another, to say nothing of how long it sits on the shelf.

  • By Tamra -

    Love, love, love Barefoot wines. I happen to like light and fruity wines and they fit the bill wonderfully. The price is great, too.

  • By Dean -

    I tried the sweet red wine from Barefoot tonight with my wife. She did not like the taste but she is not a wine drinker anyway. I thought it was fantastic !!

    • By Fred Westphal -

      Try Menage a Trois, a red blend. A little sweet, but not too sweet!

      • By 3FLY2SKY -

        does it make you want to have a threesome? do these names even appeal to a special occasion? im really not attracted to the names of wine brands because i dont think they fit any occasion

  • By Angela -

    If you look at it this way. I seen a cheap merlot. I didn’t want to spend much $$ on it. SO I grabbed a Barefoot merlot. It was divine for the price. I was expecting something far far far worse, and was pleasantly surprised. They made $6 off me more than the other brands just for being a little less expensive 🙂

  • By Donald Robertson -

    Good Day!

    My brother-in-law and sister-in-law are “wine-snobs”. If it is not an “Award Winner” they have no use for the wine no matter the name of the winery where it originated. They are also “Price Snobs” and openly claim that unless a bottle of wine is at LEAST $35.00 a bottle it shall never find its way into their “home”. They feel that they too are a “cut-above” the typical wine consumer – again, “SNOBS”!

    My wife and I went to their home for dinner and we took along a bottle of ‘Barefoot’. As I recall it was “Sauvignon Blanc” -OR- a “Chardonnay” – I’ll let it go at “it was white” (my favorite). When they took the bottle into their “tasting area” my brother-in-law IMMEDIATELY made a snide comment to his wife; I do not believe he thought I heard. “Screw top! Can you imagine, “screw top” and they believe we will serve it with YOUR (the sister-in-laws) FINE DINNER CREATION!” I nearly choked on the peanuts I had in my mouth! SO, being a kind guest I simply said (without warning), “perhaps your palate cannot appreciate a GOOD “screw top wine”, however, mine is quite capable. Now how about keeping the insults in check before I revert to my youth (the youth of which they did not “approve”) and tell you what I REALLY WANT TO SAY!

    Alas, we were actually asked to leave and go “learn” how civilized people choose a good wine. I was all to HAPPY to leave and told the brother-in-law to “wrap up my crap” and I’ll take it home to enjoy with “A BURGER”! We didn’t drink it with those “burgers”, but we “killed it off before going to bed”!

    “WINE SNOBS” are still alive and decaying in Long Beach, California. My wife and I? Heck, we moved to NEW MEXICO which also was beyond what the “snobs” could tolerate! W I don’t speak to them at all; my wife does, as a “courtesy” (which neither deserve)! Such is life ….. we are “screw top marauders” and HAPPY!

    Be well,


  • By Kenny -

    I’m not an expert on wines but knows GOOD wine when I tastes them, and Barefoot has made a mark on me. I love Merlot and of course balances out with a good glass of Chardonnay, which I also use for cooking. I’ve drank (or indulge) numerous brands but I always find myself looking for the foot – perhaps it really left a mark on me.

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      Which is why, if you note today’s post, Barefoot has more than 5 percent of the U.S. wine market.

  • By Beth Murphy-Allison -

    I used to be quite the wine snob, ordering $175 bottles of wine at dinner.
    Times have changed as have wine making and I truly enjoy Barefoot wines. I’ve done plenty of blind tastings and taste alone is the true test of anew enjoyable wine

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      Try some of the wines in the $10 Hall of Fame, and you’ll be even happier, Beth.

  • By Josiah -

    I have never had a Barefoot wine that I liked. They taste like flavored cat urine, to be blunt.
    Now pardon me while I go vomit in the corner~!

    • By Ka Pick -

      I don’t like wine but I do like Summer Read…..And now I can’t find it anywhere..

      • By Wine Curmudgeon -

        Barefoot is very good about helping consumers. I’d go to the website, and there should be a link to retailers or to ask that kind of question.

    • By Donald O'Kelley -

      How do you know it tastes like cat urine, Josiah.?

  • By Nadine -

    I like wine, but only pricey wine otherwise it upsets my stomache. Unfortunately my budget is rather low so wine is not a usual choice for me. I tried barefoot and had no problem with my stomache . So I say, kudos and bravo.

  • By Hugh Hillebrand -

    Of the low priced Merlot, we enjoy Bogle Merlot. At around $8 it’s a great buy. Very well balanced between fruit and acidity. To us it tastes better than some more expensive Merlot.

    That is not to say that we go out of our way looking for Merlot. For about the same price we’d rather drink a Tempranillo blend from Marques de Riscal Rioja 2010 vintage. Talking about a food friendly wine…and yes, around 8 bucks at your local Tom Thumb!

    • By Hugh Hillebrand -

      Sorry I did not mention the name of the wine I commented above. It’s called Proximo…salud!

  • By Angela -

    I’m sorry, but Barefoot wine is an insult to the whole idea behind enjoying a glass of great wine. Barefoot wine is for pansies, who prefer sugary foo-foo flavored drinks, chugging glass after glass as if they were cans of soda pop.
    My boyfriend offered to run in and buy a bottle of wine for me. I was so excited!!! We got home and my heart sunk when I opened the bag to find a huge bottle of crap. Tastes like sugar water. Nasty and insulting. Thanks honey for finding the biggest, cheapest bottle of wine in the entire building. I appreciate the thought, but after a day of moving, painting our bedroom, driving to buy you a new 55 inch flat screen tv, and dealing with kids all day I am very let down to say the least. Next time I will be coming in to pick one out myself. Thank you.

  • By Sandy -

    I really love Barefoot. I was never a wine drinker due to the fact no matter what I tried it tasted like vinegar(cheap to very expensive vinegar). I started with and enjoy the sweet red California blend as well as moscato and Riesling. Slowly integrating other flavors.

  • By AngelP -

    It has a strange taste, but I would take a bottle just to get drunk (;

  • By Vi Brown -

    I have been searching for a sweet sipping wine, tried oodles of roses and hadn’t found any until I ran across Pink Moscato at Nob Hill Grocery. I found a small six pack of Sutter’s and then looked for a full bottle but only found Barefoot Pink Moscato. Absolutely delicious. It makes my small glass of wine a day very enjoyable. FINALLY!!!! And I can afford it on my limited retired income.

  • By Neidin Mccullough -

    It tastes nice. End of story. Can’t be bothered with pretentious wine snobbery

  • By k wheaton -

    Went to a wedding, only wine was red. Had to dilute with ice cubes and water it was soooo bitter. Bought a bottle of Barefoot red for myself later, Heaven. Not a wine drinker normally, but like all the Barefoots except for Merlot.

  • By Mel C. -

    Barefoot Wines- Don’t knock them until you try them, all of them. Give them a chance, you’ll like these wines.

  • By Pat Greco-Canaday -

    Very inexpensive wine, I know that but this bottle is the 2nd I ever have emptied out in the sink. I like Pinot Noir…this has a label numbered85000 01707. Surely you have received more negative responses for this bitter tasting batch?

  • By Larry -

    I have been drinking barefoot consistently for years. Why? Because for the price it can’t be beat. I refuse to drink an off tasting wine at any price. I have many bottles (red and white) at three to six times the price and been disappointed. At the end of day its all about taste and the humility to call a good wine a good wine regardless of price or hype.

  • By David Russell -

    On a whim, I snagged a bottle of Barefoot Shiraz. Mind you, my normal wine is Scotch- but I was cooking, needed a red and I had read something somewhere about “Shiraz.” Local Fareway had it for $4.88 a bottle-

    10 bottles later, I’d say I found a winner (don’t worry, it’s been over several weeks!)


    Why does Barefoot wine get so many gold and silver awards, all different and all relating to Enofile Wine Competition Management? Counted 12 different awards on 12 bottles of pretty basic plonk.
    I think they are having a laugh, or else think the customer is stupid.

  • By Bella -

    I am the owner of the wines&spirits store. Barefoot was a decent company before Gallo purchased them,I believe in the 90’s. At this point it is a mass production.Palatable,drinkable,but mass production,just as Twinkies. Gallo invested zillion amount of $ in ,marketing campaign.I will not question at this point their honesty as far as what grapes they crush and where the grapes come from,but I don’t have to believe them either.It is a sad day in the wine world when people purchasing bottle of Burgundy by E&J Gallo and really believe that burgundy is a grape and not a region in France.As any huge company Gallo carry about $ and not education of consumer.At the end of the day everyone drink what they want,but this line not in our store since 1993 and it is not coming back on our shelves.Wine drinkers and wine lovers explore other vineyards,support smaller wine companies and stop limit yourself to the same old label which in reality benefits only the producer.

  • By Robert -

    Alas! We have become such a polarized nation when it comes to politics and wine. If you enjoy the taste of a wine–no matter what price–enjoy it. If not, just be polite and share that it is not your favorite. Thanks!

  • By John -

    Nothing there for me. I have tried a sip on numerous occasions. If it’s the only drink offered I would have to stay thirsty Good for all of you that can enjoy this wine. I wish I could get off so cheap.

  • By Aaron -

    With today’s technologies it’s far easier to make a great wine even compared to 20 years ago, let alone 100 years ago. Barefoot has some great well balanced recipes, and produce some very good wines that can go with anything for dirt cheap. People like it, and they can afford it. A good everyday wine is a good everyday wine. I think that’s hard for some to accept. I’ve cloned their pinot grigio and am almost spot on. lol However, I think they do carbonic maceration (break down the sugars with carbon dioxide before using yeast) which gives the wine an almost champagne fizzy-ness. It’s no wonder why this wine sells well.

  • By MA -

    I love wine and I am not a wine snob but a bargain hunter and Barefoot is no bargain. You can get much better quality wine for under $10 like Clos du Bois or Beringer or Dark Horse. I stopped going to a favorite pub because the only wine they served was “Barefoot” which is a watered down, bad tasting vino. I even promised to buy a bottle wine if they gave me a better choice. I realize there are people who liked frozen pizzas, twinkies, and Spam. I put Barefoot wines in the same categories.

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