Do you have favorite affordable wines?
March 15, 2004 2:07 PM   Subscribe

I want to increase my wine-fu, but I don't drink much anymore. My main concern is finding affordable wines to serve at gatherings which other wine lovers will appreciate. Anyone want to share any favorites?
posted by insomnia_lj to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A couple faves, all in the $10.00 range. My spelling is probably off.

Hogue: Chenin Blanc. My #1 favorite white.

Parallel 45. I forget who makes it. It's a Cote Du Rhone. Says my wife: "It tastes like Christmas."

Estancia Chardonea.

Luna Di Luna chardonea. Bright blue bottle.

I was warned to avoid Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck"
posted by bondcliff at 2:19 PM on March 15, 2004

Teroldego Rotaliano

posted by matteo at 2:30 PM on March 15, 2004

Fess Parker (yes, that Fess Parker) makes some good wines. I've had a couple, but only at a friend's, and so I can't remember which kind they were. I think they were both red. They might've both been the same kind. How's that for helpful?

Also, I love Bully Hill's Meat Market Red (go figure).
posted by soyjoy at 2:30 PM on March 15, 2004

a good wine for people who are interested in wine but don't know a lot (like me) is a bottle of carmenere - i gather it's a variety that was used in europe but died off, yet lived on in chile, and so has special credibility. it tastes like a smooth oaky cabernet sauvignon (but then almost any red chilean wine tastes like oaky carbernet sauvignon ;o). you can also get blends - someone does a merlot/cabernet/carmenere blend, but it's not very good (unless you're curious what a bunch of different tastes could taste like - i couldn't imagine it without having drunk it). but straight carmenere or simple carbnet/carmenere blends are tasty. don't think there's any point in me recommending a particular company because what's exported doesn't seem to be the same (labels, names) as what's drunk here (and anyway, i seem to buy a different make each time).

however, i suspect it might be considered a bit naff in very superior wine circles. but this is pure speculation based on a cynical vision of the way the world works.
posted by andrew cooke at 2:43 PM on March 15, 2004

I'm somewhat new to wine, but have managed to try a decent number in the four months or so I've been drinking it. I don't know what you consider affordable, but in the $10 range, I like anything from Chateau Ste. Michelle. It's a Washington state winery--they make several different varietals, and I've found all the ones I've tried so far (Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon) quite good. They're fairly easy to find, too.

Another favorite of mine, also around $10, is Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel. It was just as good as some other Zinfandels I paid twice as much for.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:55 PM on March 15, 2004

No specific names come to mind, but I've had great luck finding an independent wine shop in my neighborhood and regularly going in there and talking to the owner. These folks love wine and really do want to help the customer find what they need, even if it's not the priciest bottle on the shelf. He hasn't steered me wrong yet.
posted by GaelFC at 2:56 PM on March 15, 2004

Good wineries that have many great, reasonable (and some not so reasonable, natch) wines:

Chateau Ste. Michelle
Randall Harris
Alice White

however, i suspect it might be considered a bit naff in very superior wine circles.

Bah. They're just as batshit crazy as any other bunch of zealots with way too much money laying around. But they're sure fun to mock, you know?
posted by Skot at 2:57 PM on March 15, 2004

Lion's Peak cabernet sauvignon, from the Paso Robles area in California is excellent, but a little hard to find outsite of California. A great wine, available just about everywhere, is the aussie Rosemount Estates Diamond Label Shiraz. You can get that at Target for under $10 a bottle. I also like Yellow Tail quite a bit, and it's quite cheap, as well. Both Rosemount and Yellow Tail Shiraz score in the 80s from Wine Spectator, for those who care.

Also, you can't go wrong with a good Chianti Classico.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:57 PM on March 15, 2004

Bogle Petit Syrah, around $11. I love wine, and it's the best bargain I've come across recently.

Coppola (yes, owned by Francis Ford) makes a solid line of cheap "Rosso" and "Bianco" table wines that are under or around $10.

But GaelFC has the best advice. Ask at your local wine shop. They want your business- your repeat business, so they're not going to guide you toward junk. It's even better if you buy a bottle, then go back and tell them "I liked it, but am looking for something more X..."
posted by mkultra at 3:07 PM on March 15, 2004

One thing that I've learned recently is that organic wines leave you feeling a lot better the day after! You wouldn't believe some of the stuff that gets used in the winemaking process.

That said, organic doesn't = good all of the time.

Oh, and if you're serving a white wine, cold is good. Not freezing but crispy.
posted by i_cola at 3:08 PM on March 15, 2004

I third Chateau Ste. Michelle, particularly the riesling. Go with the higher-end Eroica riesling if you want a real treat.

The R. H. Phillips line also puts out some affordable, quality stuff in the $10 range. For about $14, you can get a bottle of their Toasted Head chardonnay, which is currently the top wine in my house. And not just for the fire-breathing bear label.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:30 PM on March 15, 2004

I really really like Sancerre (white), both with and without food...usually in the 20s for a bottle, but delicious.
posted by amberglow at 4:53 PM on March 15, 2004

You can't go wrong with Australian Shiraz. And I say this being a BC wine lover.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:40 PM on March 15, 2004

has nobody said ravenswood zin yet?
there ya go.
marcqes de riscal rioja is good and pretty cheap if you can find it.
i've had a great burrowing owl cabernet franc (BC), but haven't had those extensively so I don't know if that was an anomaly or not.
posted by juv3nal at 5:49 PM on March 15, 2004

Bogle Petit Syrah, around $11. I love wine, and it's the best bargain I've come across recently.

I agree completely. That wine is a great bargain. Bogle makes a nice Pinot Noir, too.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:31 PM on March 15, 2004

has nobody said ravenswood zin yet?

Yeah, they make a great zin, though you're starting to get a bit more expensive there (mid-teens). The Lodi zin is particularly good for the price.

Which brings me to another thing- wines are generally better if they specify a vineyard. It means that all the grapes came from a single source, rather than a mix of different grapes. It's not always the case, but you'll generally find a better (though more expensive) product.
posted by mkultra at 7:40 PM on March 15, 2004

One that I've found consistently at Costco (which has a remarkably good wine selection, atl east in my area) is Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay. I've got a few bottles of the 2000 vintage left over, and it's a very nice crip. It ran about $12.00/bottle back when I bought it, and it was one of the first wines I learned to love.

Chalk Hill is a particular place in Napa Valley ... a large south-facing deposit of chalky soil, which is good for growing grapes for whatever reason. Half of the hill is owned by Rodney Strong, and the other half is owned by another vinyard. Rodney strong charges $12/bottle. The other half of the hill sells a Chardonnay that sells for $50/bottle. I may be a cheap bastidge, but I swear I can't taste that much of a difference!
posted by SpecialK at 8:39 PM on March 15, 2004

I've had a real nice $10 Cahors called "Gouleyant" that seems to be pretty widely available.
posted by nicwolff at 9:12 PM on March 15, 2004

Professor Bainbridge has a nice poli/law blog that also has many wines that he rates.

But I cannot say enough about New Zealand whites. Any of them. They rock.
posted by Dagobert at 10:39 PM on March 15, 2004

Dunno if you can get this where you are, but I am having fun systematically trying every wine from Cantina La Vis, more specifically the "Classics" Range. It all started with the delicious Trentino DOC Traminer Aromatico - now one of my favorites - and the memorable labels. Their whites are stronger than their reds, but this year's novello was excellent.

Oh yeah - keep an eye out in the future for the 2003 european wines; supposedly the massive heat wave we had is really good for the grapes.
posted by romakimmy at 3:45 AM on March 16, 2004

Y'know, one secret is that almost all wine you buy is good wine -- or at least eminently drinkable. I've only had maybe five bad bottles in my life, and that was usually due to them being corked rather than them being plonk.

GaelFC is right -- go into your wine shop with idea of what you want to spend, what it's going to accompany, what sort of tastes you like. Don't worry about trying to impress your guests or the wine store clerk. Good clerks won't steer you wrong, and the happy news is that good clerks aren't too hard to find.

Some rules of thumb, though:
I think both Australian Shiraz and Alsatian Gewurztraminer are very reasonable and very drinkable and worth getting;
while most people know white wine should be served cold, often red wine is served too warm, which gives it a hot, acidic, soft mouthfeel. Try sticking it in the fridge for a little bit instead of serving it at room temperature -- I find a temp in the low sixties or high fifties is good for reds.

And above all, have fun!

(And pick up a copy of The Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine, by Dorothy Gaiter and John J. Brecher. They do a fantastic job of making learning about wine easy and fun.)
posted by Vidiot at 6:37 AM on March 16, 2004

On wine serving temperature: likewise, whites should not be too cold...not quite as cold as your refrigerator. A rule of thumb I heard (I forget where, but it may even have been here on MeFi) was that you should put reds in the refrigerator twenty minutes before serving, and take whites out of the refrigerator twenty minutes before serving.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:22 AM on March 16, 2004

Second the recommendations for riesling (underappreciated, hence underpriced) and zin, and I'll add one for Argentine malbec -- it's hard to find a bad one, it goes with just about everything (though it might overpower a very mild dish -- it's perfect with steak, which is the Argentines' favorite dish), and since nobody outside Argentina knows about it it too is underpriced. I find most Chilean wines disappointing, but that may be just me.
posted by languagehat at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2004

Cline Live Oak Zinfandel, Lazy Creek 2001 Anderson valley Pinot Noir, Pacific Star 1997 Charbono.

I really like most Petit Syrah's. Not a common grape though - a bit hard to find. I'll have to try the Bogle.
posted by troutfishing at 11:31 PM on March 23, 2004

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