Everyone tells me the college years are supposed to be the best four years (“maybe five or six if you’re a slacker”) of my life but by the looks of my wallet—and sparse ingredients in my cabinet—they must be counting by other measures. For the majority of college scholars, the basic food groups are stripped away, only to be replaced by the notorious Ramen noodles, frozen pizzas, PB&J’s, mac and cheese, and anything cooked on a George Foreman Grill. Along with the deprivation of food comes the notion that drinks such as wine are far out of reach.


Contrary to that belief, I am here to share how I’ve been able to retain a (small) grasp of luxury. There is a world of inexpensive and delicious wines out there (more emphasis on the inexpensive) begging to reveal themselves to the realm of college students. I’ve discovered several, and I’d love to hear more suggestions from you.


My Objective: To put a little classy into my budgeted life and spice up my frequently poor-to-mediocre meals. With my fellow college students in mind, I attempted to do what some might call crazy, possibly even unfathomable: pair the college diet with cheap and delicious wines.


Food: Frozen pizzas (or cheese on cardboard)


Alice-WhiteWine: For this ever-so-popular breakfast, lunch or dinner meal I paired it with a nice Alice White Shiraz, which complements the frozen cheese with its medium finish.


 Average Price: $6






Food: Mac & Cheese

Blackswan-wineWine: When I think of mac and cheese, I think buttery and rich (and the slightly melted Tupperware containers I use as bowls). That said, I had to consider the contrast of this dish, which would be acidic and lean, which made me think Syrah. The wine I choose to complement this college favorite is a delicious Black Swan Syrah.



 Average Price: $5





Food: The classic childhood go-to meal, PB&J 


Wine: This wine pairing was a bit tricky, There are a lot of elements to a PB&J: what kind of peanut butter? What kind of fruit is in the jelly? Then I woke up and realized I am talking about college here, which means store-bought generic grape or strawberry jelly, cheap peanut butter, and bread most likely borrowed from a roommate. So to complement this feast of champions I paired with it a sweet boxed(oh yes that’s right, boxed) Corbett Canyon Pinot Noir.


Average Price: $5



Food: The notorious, massively produced, and rarely cherished… Ramen Noodles




Wine: With such a well-known dorm room meal like Ramen, it was only appropriate to pair it with a well-known college wine… That’s right folks! A nice glass of Franzia Pinot Grigio. I know it seems cliché to pair two of the biggest names in college budgets together but surprisingly they pair wonderfully. Franzia is a light bodied, easy-on-the-palate boxed wine that complements the glorified salt-water sponge noodles of Ramen.


Average Price: $10 (for 5 liters)



Deep Thoughts on Wine and My Generation

In the end, am I considering myself a wine expert? Ha, yeah about as much as I consider myself an astronaut. And if you were to ask me what are my cheap, go-to wines? I would respond, I have no specific recommendations, because to me, wine is a vast world of undiscovered pleasures and mysteries that my younger generation should dive into and experience for themselves. I sometimes feel the rest of the wine world should envy my generation, just for our simple lack of wine knowledge. We have no predetermined judgments; we simply drink for flavor (and price). We aren’t tying to impress by rarity or age, we just enjoy new things.


That said, wine is a gift I encourage my fellow Millennials to simply open and peek inside, because I guarantee what you will find is far from any stereotype you may have come to know from an older generation. Down the road, we may be able to develop a preference and a taste for more expensive wines; for now, even cheap wine is a classy pleasure.


Joe J Medvec wrote at March 10, 2013
0 Votes
Hardy's Shiraz South Eastern Australia 2006 (about $19, 3 liters) one of the best Shiraz i have tasted...You'd never know it came from a box...Pour a glass and you'll be empressed
Joe J Medvec
William & Natalie Myers wrote at March 10, 2013
0 Votes
I loved this article and will forward it to other wine lovers on a budget!!!!
William & Natalie Myers
Paul W. Giese wrote at March 6, 2013
0 Votes
Great article Braylon. I remember my college days of drinking out of whatever clean glass was available. Enjoy your journey...
Paul W. Giese