In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10. Please note, however, that the prices I quote are what I paid at my local store; your pricing will probably differ.
Stonehedge Reserve Petite Syrah, 2007 Special Vineyard Select – Alcohol 14.5% by volume. Cellars located in Arroyo Grande, California. $9.99 at Vons.
The label was uninformative, but a couple of wine sites – the Vino File particularly – had the scoop I needed. Surprisingly, the website for Stonehedge didn’t show the Reserve Petite Syrah 2007 at all.
This Wine Judging site gave it a gold medal. Another site I didn’t bookmark said the $10 price was about right for the quality. So there you go…
My Take: It had a nice juiciness, plus a zing of pepper that I love. If you’re a SWEET red wine drinker, this is not the wine for you. If you like medium-sized reds with a bit of a bite, you would probably like this. Plus, if you give it as a gift, the whole “Reserve” on the label makes it look more expensive than it is – and the taste doesn’t detract from the label. A win-win!
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ I guess I’m getting picky as I taste. I’ve got a few favorites, and this, sad to say, didn’t make my “I’d buy it again” list. But that doesn’t detract from it’s tastiness!
Bear Flag California Smooth Wine Blend Modesto, California Alcohol 12% by volume Blend of Tempranillo, Touriga, Zinfandel and Alicante Bouschet (I know – don’t know a couple of these, either!!!) $6.99 at Vons.
On the Label: It’s wild. Check out the website. The label, plus it’s low price, is why I picked it up.
Characterized as closer to the “sweet” scale, this is a “sweet” red that I enjoyed. In fact, I was surprised to see they characterized it as such. It was an easy-sipper and went very well with the clean-out-the-veggie-bin soup I made yesterday.
Easy. Not a big wine; if I had to put only one varietal to it, I’d put it close to a Merlot. The label is cool, and they have other blends I’m hoping Vons will carry so I can try them out.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Again, it wasn’t a breathless wine – but it’s a solid choice for that rushed evening when you’re really looking to sip something as you make those burgers. Or chicken patties. I will say you won’t regret it!
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and will depend upon my mood, the meal I just ate, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Have you read it yet?
Tasting cheap wines, so you don’t have to! I’m your guide to good wines under $10 a bottle, most of which can be found in your local grocery store.
A lot of people look horrified when I pull a bottle of red wine out of my refrigerator, so I thought I’d briefly discuss wine temperature. (Not storage – I don’t store wine. It’s better to drink now, yes?)
Centuries ago, wines were stored in cellars and served room temperature. However, you must consider the times – “room temperature” could very well be 54 degrees F. During the summer, my kitchen temperature tends to hover in the high 70’s low 80’s. So the all-thinking wine gurus have made this pronouncement: A bottle of red wine should be chilled for 20 minutes prior to serving. A bottle of white wine should be well-chilled, but taken out of the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to serving. Makes sense when they put it that way.
Anyway, I’ve got two different Chianti wines for you today – two more to come later. (I’ve discovered a broken leg and wine don’t really go together. Makes me a bit too tippy, if you understand! So my wine consumption has been scaled back. Sorry!)
D’Aquino Chianti Product of Italy Bottled by Vltra-Firenze-Italy 12.5% Alcohol by volume $6.99 at Vons
The label was uninformative, just the way I like ’em. The bottle is straw-wrapped – what you expect from an Italian wine. It remains one of those feel-good bottles wrapped up in not only straw, but memories of young love. But enough about the bottle. What about the wine?
The epitome of bland. If you want a red wine but don’t want to have to think too much about it, don’t want it big and bold and in your face, then this is your wine. It’s quiet. Inexpensive. A good bottle for beginning wine drinkers. An easy bottle for a picnic.
We’ve had it a couple of times now, once with chicken, once with fish. See? It goes with just about everything. Chianti isn’t just for Italian food any more. And…that’s about all I can say about this wine.
My Rating: ~Drinkable~ but kind of boring. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Castello di Gabbiano Chianti 2009 Product of Italy Denominazione de Origine Controllata e Garantita 12.5% Alcohol by volume Under $9 at Vons
On the Label: “The 12th Century Castello di Gabbiano Estate is located in the heart of renowned Chianti Classico region. The Gabbiano Knight, or Cavaliere, protected the Estate and embodies the tradition of winemaking excellence. Today, the Cavaliere vividly symbolizes the robust charm and tradition of the Chianti region, which has been recognized through the centuries as the birthplace of fabulous wine and cuisine. Gabbiano Chianti has invigorating flavors of cherry and spice, and complements a wide variety of cuisine, including pasta dishes, grilled meats and pizza.”
This wine is more of what I think of when I think Chianti. Bigger, but not off-putting, with nice fruit on the tongue. It adds to the meal rather than merely complements it. It’ll stand up to the more robust dishes of autumn and winter, but goes perfectly well with pizza (which is how we had it). If you’re looking for a nice Chianti, Gabbiano has several different ones in varying price ranges to fit your purse or your gift-giving needs. This is the least expensive, and I know it was on special for around $7 but I don’t have my receipt with me, darn it. Usually runs $9.99.
My Rating: ~Very Drinkable~
Regarding Hannibal; I haven’t seen Silence of the Lambs, but I’ve heard way too many impersonations of Hannibal talking about “a nice Chianti”. Privately, I suspect that movie caused more than one person to avoid the wine for several months – if not years – afterwards. I don’t know why I’ve avoided it, but it was past time to search it out again. Two more Chiantis coming your way in a few weeks.
As usual, this is all my opinion. Wine ratings depend on the phase of the moon, what kind of mood the cat is in, and which stringed instrument the hubby is playing as I type. Your taste buds will vary.
~ Thanks for dropping by, and remember – Drink Responsibly! ~
It’s Friday – so I must be tasting cheap wines for you, so you don’t have to! Let’s begin, shall we?
Which wine goes best with fish tacos? I’m not talking the batter-fried fish…I’m talking lime-infused, pan-grilled Dover Sole in white corn tortillas with home-grown tomatoes, crisp green cabbage, refried beans…and a flurry of other stuff like saffron rice, guacamole, and sour cream.
We tasted three. Yes, envy us! I’ll take you from white to rose, to red in our quest, and I’ll make my pronouncement at the end of the posting for the best wine with fish tacos!
La Gioiosa et Amorosa Pinot Grigio ~ Italy ~ Fresh & Easy, $7.99
On the Label: Marca Trevigiana Indicazione Geografica Tipica Alcohol 10% by volume
I found this wine the first year Fresh & Easy opened up in my hometown. It was refrigerated, had a screw top, was only $5.99, and said it was a “Prosecco”. Which is the Italian bubbly wine. I bought it, fell in love with it, and have been buying it ever since. Except last year sometime, it went away. No one knew what happened to it, but it was gone. GONE. I was devastated. This year, however, it came back – but the label no longer said “Prosecco” though it still had bubbles in it, and it had gotten bumped up to $7.99.
Still. Low alcohol content for wine always makes me give two thumbs up. Crisp, clean, almost tasteless but with a hint of the yummy Pinot Grigio grape and the sparkle of the tiny, tiny bubbles. Last night I drank it with Chinese food – it cut through the spices and cleared my palate, the way a good wine is supposed to. Tonight? It handled the fish tacos very well.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ For the price, it’s a good, inexpensive bubbly with an Italian heritage.
Tempranillo Penrosa 2009, Vino de Espana Rose wine BODEGAS REALEZA $4.99, Fresh & Easy
On the Label: “Product of Spain Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon Spain is producing some of the finest rose´wines in the world due to their beautifully ripe grapes and new modern winemaking practices. This rose´has been made to be the perfect al fresco refresher on long hot summer days.
“Fresh red berry fruit aromas of strawberry and raspberry. Serve chilled, on its own or with light savoury canapes. Made from premium grapes grown across northwest Spain. Enjoy now or store carefully for up to two years after purchase.”
I love this wine. It’s got a lovely hint of sweetness. A pretty pink wine that would go with pork, fish, or vegetarian meals, it’s also got the balls to cut through spice (good for Asian dishes) but works well as a sipping wine, too. It made the fish tacos sing. Another wine with a screw top, to which I say Huzzah!
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ And come on, at $5 a bottle, this could be THE summer wine! Seriously. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Fresh & Easy, go buy a bottle for that summer party that’s coming up. Because there always seems to be a summer party that we’re not ready for, right?
Apothic Red 2009 Winemaker’s Blend, California On Sale at Vons for $9.99 (I think…lost my receipt! But definitely not over $9.99.)
On the Label: “Inspired by the ‘Apotheca’ , a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th century Europe. Apothic Red offers a truly unique wine experience.
“A masterful blend of RICH ZINFANDEL, FLAVORFUL SYRAH, and SMOOTH MERLOT, creating layers of dark red fruit complemented by hints of vanilla and mocha.”
Okay. Have you ever had a huge party, and after everyone’s gone home, you had like, seven bottles of red wine with maybe two inches of wine left?
Yeah, me neither. Okay, but suppose you did. And you just poured all the wine together into one bottle, and stuck it in the fridge, and drank it the next day. Oh, stop looking so horrified. The wine probably tastes very, very good. The bad part? There is no way to recreate the wine you created the night before. Or…maybe that’s the good part…
At any rate, this wine is approachable. As the hubby says, he can sip it between playing songs on the guitar. It doesn’t demand food. It’s a congenial wine, ready to play, or be a backdrop to the food you’re serving. As to how it went with fish tacos?
Well, it was fine. Not a standout, no more than any of the other wines. To be honest, hubby said to me before dinner that fish tacos only rate a mediocre wine. I don’t agree, especially with the fish tacos I made…
My Rating ~ Drinkable ~ Though hubby says very drinkable, lol!
We ended up drinking the red wine with dinner. But frankly, the Penrosa Rose would have been spectacular with the fish tacos, and the La Gioiosa Pinot Grigio would have cleared our palates in a wonderful fashion. So – with these three wines, all of them would have served wonderfully both the table and the palate.
Do check out the links, wine sites can be totally fascinating. Remember, these are my taste buds and that means they’re subject to tides, winds, and the whims of the family. Your taste buds will vary. And please…drink responsibly!
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Have you read DEMON SOUL yet? What are you waiting for? Thanks for reading!
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Welcome back to Wine Friday! It’s Memorial Day weekend and you’ll probably have something on the grill at some point, unless it’s still snowing/raining where you live. I’m currently loving the So Cal sunshine! So let’s get to it.
Talking about wine…It cracks me up to read Food & Wine Magazine, and see what they recommend to drink. The May 2011 issue touts “discovering fantastic pinot noir” on the cover. As it turns out, that article is about some great winemaker in Italy making Patagonian Pinot Noir. Not, I think, something I’ll find at Vons for under $10.
Looking further in the magazine, I think maybe I’m going to get lucky – there’s an article on page 70 about “Finding Tasty Wine on a Public-TV Budget”, so I head over there to check it out.
The article is well written but I skim it, looking for the prices…aHA! Found them! To my surprise, all the wines are at the $15 or lower price range. Hmmm. There’s a 2009 Bibi Graetz Bianco Di Casamatta for $11 – apparently it’s a vibrant, citrusy Vermentino.
Um. What? Any wine that makes me think of rats and cockroaches isn’t on my radar (Vermentino – vermin – get it? lol…).
The next one is a 2008 Argiolas Perdera at $12, from the Monica grape (who knew?), and this is a juicy red that’s now grown in Sardinia. Ooookay.
Well now here’s one that I understand. More or less. It’s a 2008 Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera D’Asti for $12. This is an aromatic, berry-rich wine, which according to the author has a fantastic price tag.
Okay now I’m just tired, lol! I’m a busy woman. I pick up my wines at the grocery store, and I search out those well under $10 a bottle. Am I the only one? Don’t think so. All the above wines can be found in several NY City wine shops which is great if you live in NY City. We don’t have a wine shop where I live. Oh, WAIT – we DO! BevMo! Okay, consider this whine cut short.
Still…when I get dinner, and need to pick up wine to go with, I really don’t want to hop on the freeway at rush hour and question the BevMo staff about wines made from the Monica grape that are in my price range. I buy 95% of my wine at my local grocery store, so getting a well-made wine for as little as possible is always my goal.
(Before I go further, I do adore Trader Joe’s and still shop there for wine, but I outgrew Two Buck Chuck about ten years ago. I still try $2 bottles of wine, though. You never know when you’ll hit on a winner.)
I have a definite go-to wine that I buy when I don’t want to think and don’t want to spend over $6. My go-to wine is the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir. It’s usually $5.99 at Vons, sometimes it goes up to $6.99 – but even when it’s NOT on “special”, it’s a $9.99 bottle of wine – at least, it is in California.
As a matter of fact, when I go wine tasting up in Paso Robles, if a wine isn’t considerably better in my mouth than a Smoking Loon Pinot, I won’t buy it. I really don’t want to spend the money, especially now.
Why Smoking Loon Pinot Noir? It’s consistent over vintages. It’s an easy sipping wine that goes with a lot of different foods. It’s got depth, flavor, and a nice lingering taste (plus, goes great with either a campfire or at the beach). It’s perfect with an elegant chicken dish, vegetarian offerings, or hamburgers and dogs off the grill. It’s unpretentious, a nice bottle of wine. Kind of like the unspoiled girl next door.
Okay – I understand that I’m not talking of the taste of the wine, the aromas, the flavors that I sense – I guess because my tastebuds will vary from yours. I will include those things when I write while I sip, and that’s not the case currently – but always remember, when it comes to wine? Your mileage may vary.
Oops, and I forgot! I rate the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir as ~Very Drinkable~ mainly because it has been consistent over the past five years. Plus – I just discovered that Smoking Loon is owned by the Sebastiani family, and has been in existence since 2000. So there are their bona fides!
Anyway – to further my wine education (which began many years ago with a trip to Napa Valley), I will continue to read Food & Wine Magazine (as they highlight expensive wine and fouffy food, for the most part, also NOT CHEAP to make, tho in their defense they never promised CHEAP dishes, now did they?) and stop by at BevMo for tastings. Plus have tastings with friends – that way, you get more opinions than just mine.
In the meantime, if you’ve got a wine you like that’s under $10 a bottle (and I’m not talking box or jug wines – I’ll get to those in a year or so), give me a holler!
Coming next week (probably): Three different Chardonnays, under $10
P.S. Oh, one thing I should mention – these wines are mostly grown in California, and I live in California – so my prices will be lower than yours if you’re in the Central states or on the other coast. I can tell you that every time I visit my friend Tammy in Snowmass, Colorado, I am shocked at the wine prices – one bottle of Smoking Loon there is around $15!