Budget winery, not individual wines, for a party
June 10, 2009 11:37 AM   Subscribe

If you needed to pick a single winery for your entire selection of wine for a party, with a max budget of $8-10/750 mL, what winery would you choose? Something along the lines of Beringer, Yellow Tail, Woodbridge, etc.?

I buy wine for personal consumption all the time, but my budget and tastes are different than buying for a 4 hour party with 120 people, with a smallish budget and no shopping time. The event is this Saturday and I just did not have the time (nor do I now) to do a lot of research on what to serve or to play "Find this great inexpensive wine!" among several stores. My plan at this point is to pick a single reasonably priced winery and just pick up everything I need from them. The discount liquor stores near me have a wide selection of all the most common brands, all I need to do is pick one.

Any suggestions? Is this a crazy plan? Should I abandon it go to my regular shop and pay $12-15/bottle instead for my normal selection/their recommendations?
posted by erin_trying to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My favorite in this price range is Blackstone, although to be fair I have only had the merlot and cabernet. I usually pick up the merlot for about $8 a bottle at the grocery store, and it's widely available from what I have seen.
posted by tryniti at 11:47 AM on June 10, 2009

Black Swan is good, BareFoot, Little Penquin, Yellow Tail
posted by HuronBob at 11:52 AM on June 10, 2009

Stores in my area recently started carrying Gato Negro (Chilean) wines at $4/bottle. For the price, the varietals I've tried (mostly whites) have been pretty good.
posted by jon1270 at 12:08 PM on June 10, 2009

Where do you live and what stores do you have access to? Is there a BevMo near you? A Trader Joe's? Costco? What kind of wine do you need -- one red and one white, or more than that? Is this wine to go with food or just for drinking? Do you want to stick with one label for all the wines just because it'll match, or is there another reason? Is this group wine-aware, or will they be cool with something that tastes decent but isn't complex? Do you want a California wine, or Italian, or Australian, or French, or do you care about location at all? What kind of wine do YOU drink when you buy?
posted by incessant at 12:09 PM on June 10, 2009

You say you have a shop you usually go to. If I were you, I'd go there and say, "I need x bottles of red and y bottles of white, for a total of z dollars. Set me up with the best you can do for that price."

I did exactly that recently for a similar occasion, and it was easy & worked out well. There are lots of nonmajor label wines from, e.g., Chile, Argentina, Sicily, etc that are tasty and cheap, and thet you'd never find on your one. Plus you'll get a case discount.
posted by kestrel251 at 12:24 PM on June 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Um, make that "on your own".
posted by kestrel251 at 12:25 PM on June 10, 2009

erin_trying's partner here. To answer incessant, we live in NYC and have a Costco membership. Most of the group will be relatively happy with whatever wine, so long as it isn't bad.
posted by Xoder at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2009

Gallo! Gallo is awesome for being so cheap. And I'm a fan of Gallo Merlot
posted by phrakture at 12:46 PM on June 10, 2009

South America probably gives you top bang/buck at that kind of price: something like Casa Lapostolle (Chile) is consistent but not spectacular, though you shouldn't be a slave to labels.

As kestrel251 says, a decent local shop should really be able to guide you to something in that price range, with a case discount that turns, say, a $12 wine into a $10 at the checkout. In NYC, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to sellers who stock producers that will never make it into the warehouse stores because they don't ship X thousand cases.
posted by holgate at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2009

If you have access to a Trader Joe's, you should look for a brand called "La Ferme Julien." There is either a goat or a rooster on the label (it changes for some reason) and there is a red, a white, and a rosé, all of which are good and have nice balance (and all of which, trust me, are better than Yellow Tail, Charles Shaw, etc.).

They changed to a screw-top recently, but don't let that fool you! At my TJ's they're like $7 each.
posted by ekroh at 1:00 PM on June 10, 2009

I love the La Ferme Julien wines, but if the rose isn't chilled it turns NASTY. And at my TJ's they're $5.

Bogle is my favorite low-to-mid-range wine (especially their Old Vine Zinfandel), but it's a few dollars out of your price range.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:02 PM on June 10, 2009

I'll second Bogle. If you look around you'll probably be able to find it in your price range. They never fail to satisfy. They make a good variety of wines and are available just about everywhere, from Safeway and the corner liquor store to Trader Joe's to Whole Foods.
posted by lekvar at 1:18 PM on June 10, 2009

I'm a huge fan of the La Boca (Argentina) family of wines at Trader Joe's for 4 bucks a bottle. Cheaper than your budget, but a very decent winery. The Malbec is amazing, and the Chardonnay is particularly buttery. The CabSauv is also very good. IMHO
posted by BadgerKyle at 1:29 PM on June 10, 2009

Go to Costco, pick out a case (or X cases) each of a red and white (or whatever varietals you like) in your price range. Costco seems to have (by far) the best price, and there's no reason (as far as I can tell) that you're limited to the same winery.

This is quick, easy, economical, and effective. If you really want to do it right, you can buy a single bottle of each and try them first, but it sounds like you're pressed for time. I can recommend Ravenswood's Vintner's Blend Zin as a decent red for a very reasonable price at Costco, but Zins might not be ideal for a party. Perhaps you want a Merlot and a Sauv Blanc?
posted by JMOZ at 1:44 PM on June 10, 2009

In that price range, seconding Yellow Tail and Blackstone for their reds (Pinot, Merlot and Carbernet). If you are near a Trader Joe's, the infamous Charles Shaw 2-buck-Chuck reds are good, and a good conversation starter.
posted by jabberjaw at 1:56 PM on June 10, 2009

I enjoy Big House's white, red, and rose. Pretty easy to find close to 10 bucks a bottle, even cheaper if you buy'm by the case.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:31 PM on June 10, 2009

Fetzer is always a solid bet (not crazy good, but never bad) and should be in your price range. I think it's around $6 at TJ's, maybe a bit more at supermarkets if not on sale.
posted by escher at 2:50 PM on June 10, 2009

I've had very good luck with Jacob's Creek and Rosemount Estate, both from Australia. I find that they're good quality for the price (around $10), and most people won't instantly recognize them as something they've seen next to the Franzia at the wine store.
posted by supramarginal at 3:04 PM on June 10, 2009

Go over to Costco and see if they have any "Norton" left. It is some good stuff but make sure you get the reserve bottle that is from three separate places listed on the label- not just two, if that makes any sense.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:42 PM on June 10, 2009

Costco is the only major retailer where I don't buy wine, so I can't speak with any authority about what they may or may not carry. Please don't buy Charles Shaw -- the quality varies wildly between bottles, and even the better bottles of Charles Shaw aren't worth the $2 (or $3 on the east coast). You probably knew that already. And if I see another bottle of the Ravenswood Vintner's Blend Zin... (also, you don't want to know about their employment practices -- they're not a nice winery).

Right now all we can give you is a lengthy, scattershot list of wineries that are generally inoffensive and may or may not produce a decent value bottle depending on year, varietal, and what the store is selling it for. I'd tell you to get a La Crema pinot because I've got a store near me that was unloading it at 12$ a bottle for a case of the 07, but that's just near me. In NYC, that'll probably run $21. I don't know if you can get any Penfolds, like the Rawson's Retreat or any of their other reasonable reds ($5 to $7), or the Mission St. Pinot ($8), that's nicely balanced and finishes as well as it starts, with some berry and a fuller body than you'll expect from a cheap pinot. Instead, I think the best bet here will be for you to go to a store that stocks a decent amount of wine and give them your budget and how many bottles you want, and they'll guide you better than anyone here. The rest of us will just be shooting in the dark and you'll be overwhelmed with choices.
posted by incessant at 12:05 AM on June 11, 2009

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