Give me red wine advice in KY?
June 26, 2009 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Need help finding a good red wine. Tricky part - I need to purchase it online and have it shipped in Kentucky.

My husband loves red wine, I only know how to drink it.
He is currently deployed overseas and will be coming home for a 2 week R&R in a couple months. I have booked us into a very romantic cabin for the first few days that he is home, and I'd like to get atleast one or two nice bottles of red wine as a suprise for him.
Here's the tricky part. I have a small child I'm raising alone right now, and it's hard for me to get out and go shopping. I also know nothing about wine, and I'm afraid I'll be taken for a sucker if I go into a winery and ask for a recommendation. I do most of my shopping online anyways.
So I need a red wine I can buy and have shipped to me in Kentucky. We don't have money to throw around, but because it's such a special occasion I'm flexible on the cost, nothing outrageous though. Can anyone help?
posted by sporaticgenius to Food & Drink (20 answers total)
Due Vigne di Famiglia in Napa ships single bottles.
posted by puritycontrol at 7:07 PM on June 26, 2009

I would suggest calling the folks running the romantic cabin. Unless we're talking about a budget or no-frills kind of place, they're used to dealing with requests like this and might be able to help unless there are blue law issues involved.
posted by crapmatic at 7:08 PM on June 26, 2009

it would help if you would share how much per bottle you are able/willing to spend.
posted by HuronBob at 7:11 PM on June 26, 2009

Kentucky has some of the more backward wine shipping laws. I'm not sure about in-state shipping, but no out of state store is going to ship wine to Kentucky.
posted by ryanrs at 7:14 PM on June 26, 2009

it would help if you would share how much per bottle you are able/willing to spend.

This, echoed. I know you say you're flexible, but things like "nothing outrageous" are very variable; I know people who would mean "thirty, forty bucks tops" by that, and others who would consider anything up to $100 a bottle entirely reasonable for a special occasion.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:19 PM on June 26, 2009

Unfortunately, according to this and this, it's illegal to ship wine to Kentucky. Too bad.

I know it might be hard to schlep out to a specialized wine store, but if you can -- seriously, don't worry about "being taken for a sucker". I've asked for help at a lot of wine stores during my wine-learning-trajectory (I'd say I'm now at the low dabbler level), and no one has ever been snotty to me or taken me for a ride. Wine store folks -- real wine store folks, not at the local know they have specialized knowledge. They want your repeat business. And they want you to have something nice -- they actually do want you to have bang for buck. Believe it or not, what they often DON'T like is the snotty-know-nothing-pretentious-twit who pretends to know what s/he's talking about. They're just passionate geeks, really. I've only ever gotten interesting, tasty stuff I'd never have bought on my own.

So don't be intimidated! Just tell them what you told us. They might ask some questions, like, "does he like them big and jammy?" or "does he have a sweet tooth?" or "are you going to serve it with food? if so, what food?" If you answer to that last question is, "no... it's kind of for lolling around on the deck" or "no.... it's kind of for lolling around in bed!" go ahead and tell them that, with a laugh. They'll get a kick out of it. They will definitely ask you "what price point?" Don't be ashamed. Just tell them. If your budget is at least $15 a bottle, you should be able to get something pretty durn tasty. $25-40 is a totally solid price range that they are VERY used to selling. And unless your husband is very knowledgeable, I think you're better off with 2 $30 bottles than 1 $60 bottle (etc for higher numbers, like 6 bottles....)

posted by kestrel251 at 7:25 PM on June 26, 2009 [4 favorites]

Um, I meant to write, "not at the local pints-of-vodka-in-plastic-bottles store" or something. I posted too soon.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:26 PM on June 26, 2009

If you find yourself having to make a choice yourself, one rule can prevent you from buying something totally undrinkable:

"Red wine of common variety (Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfindel , -4 or more years from present, between 12 and 13.5% alcohol")

This just means choose a grape that's a common varietal, aged a little, and not so huge that it needs a gigantic cheese or meal to kill it).

That rule has saved me tons of money and, more often than not, and of all places to find such a rule, I found in Wine Spectator.

Oh, and don't pay more than $30 unless you know what you're doing. It's just a gamble beyond that.
posted by foooooogasm at 7:28 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

It used to be a felony to ship wine to Kentucky. It looks like that changed in 2007, but only if you choose a small winery that has a permit to ship to KY and only if you live in a wet zip code...
posted by elsietheeel at 7:29 PM on June 26, 2009

I meant "more often than not has helped me choose a very drinkable wine".
posted by foooooogasm at 7:30 PM on June 26, 2009

But it looks like you won't be able to find a carrier to get it there. None of it makes sense to me.

Looks like you're going to have to go shopping. Or do what crapmatic said and ask the cabin to take care of it for you.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:31 PM on June 26, 2009

I like fooooooogasm's advice, too. A friendly amendment/additional clause? Shiraz can be added to his (?) list. But don't buy cheap pinot noir. Bleeccch.
posted by kestrel251 at 7:32 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help. I think I am able to buy from online from local wineries and have it shipped online, but now I'm not so sure. There are several wineries near Lexington, it's not that far of a distance from me, just hard to get a babysitter. I was willing to go up to $100 or so for atleast one nice bottle. He knows his wines very well, and with the occasion it makes me a little nervous to find a nice one he'd like.
posted by sporaticgenius at 7:38 PM on June 26, 2009

I call it the Great Chasm, the price point between $30 and $500.

I can remember maybe 3 bottles from the 100 or so I've bought in the Great Chasm that have been truly worth it.

The Great Chasm, IMO, is a crap shoot.
posted by foooooogasm at 7:54 PM on June 26, 2009

Both Lover's Leap and Chrisman Mill have excellent wines. And Chrisman Mill has a wine store in Hamburg. I'm sure you could take your kids with? Maybe? Also, Liquor Barn and Wine & Market both have excellent selections of more local wines but you can also go to the Le Matin wine shop in Chevy Chase for the non local variety.
posted by hecho de la basura at 8:27 PM on June 26, 2009

I think you'd be much better served by making a trip to a good wine store. If you explain the situation they should be able to help you out. You'd just need to pick a price range and, ideally, give them a little guidance as to what your husband has tended to like in the past. There is nothing wrong (IMHO) with taking a child into the store with you.

I wouldn't recommend shipping wine at this time of year -- it is sensitive to heat, and my guess would be that Kentucky is pretty hot these days.

I also wouldn't necessarily recommend buying from a Kentucky winery. I would imagine that the quality can vary quite a bit -- I'd stick to a better known region. Or maybe you just mean wine-centric-stores when you say "winery," in which case you can ignore this bit.
posted by sad_otter at 9:41 PM on June 26, 2009

One that you might want to look into. Ripassos - Valpolicellas filtered through Amarone skins - tend to be a great bang/buck bet. Plenty of body, without overpowering you the way some cabs get. Lots of good ones in the $20-40 range, and few (if any) actually bad choices.

Zenato's probably the most common and perfectly serviceable - their 2005 is one of my always-gets. There's a truly astounding one in the same range, but I've only found it in restaurants and... sigh... have since forgotten the label. A distinctive blue bottle - if you stumble across it, by all means let me know!
posted by shemol at 1:49 AM on June 27, 2009

Robin Garr, who publishes the 30 Second Wine Advisor, is based in Louisville KY. You might drop him a note and ask for suggestions.
posted by maurice at 4:18 AM on June 27, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the help everyone! I feel more confident now.
posted by sporaticgenius at 9:50 AM on June 27, 2009

I would avoid buying locally. You'd be very lucky to find a wine vinted in Kentucky that is worth $100 (or really, even $30, given the glut of great wines you can find from all around the world). It's not that the local wineries don't know what they're doing, it's just that the soil and climate don't suit complex, subtle wines worth paying that much extra for.

Good luck, and don't be afraid to ask questions in the store!
posted by dosterm at 11:01 AM on June 27, 2009

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