Our grocery occasionally offers a wine deal – 15% off if you buy a case. It’s a good opportunity to restock the wine cooler. I drink mostly red, especially this time of year, but always keep a little white on hand . A few of the wines I bought today were wines that I’ve been buying for years. Only one is a wine that we discovered within the last year.
I’ve been to a number of wine tastings and wine tasting classes since I became of age. At 21, I took a wine tasting class at a wine bar, Flagons, on Magazine Street in New Orleans. At that point, I knew absolutely nothing about wine and don't think I learned much. These days, I occasionally go to the wine tastings at Peabody’s or Christopher’s. While I am still somewhat rotten about being able to identify “chocolate” and “earthy” and such (I am however good at picking out the elements that I hate—“grassy” and “woody”), I have a decent understanding of grapes in the US and regions in France and Spain. And I know what I like.
I would love to be able to buy all our wine at the local wine shops, but our budget dictates otherwise. These are some of the wines we like for everyday -- all under $12 a bottle.
The Rioja is a bottle thatI have been drinking for 15-plus years. I think at that point, you could buy it for something like $4 a bottle at Martin's Wine Cellar. I prefer my white wines dry and somewhat light-bodied. It is priced around $9-11 a bottle these days. I discovered the white Bordeaux after moving to the mountains 5 years ago. I have no idea what drew me to it, but it has become my favorite inexpensive white. The price has jumped from around $6 to around $10 over that time. Our dinner club is doing a French meal tomorrow night and this is the bottle I'm taking to serve with my first course -- pissaladiere and an apple and celery salad tossed with a dijon vinaigrette.
For the most part, I like my red wines big, bold and dry. I buy a lot of Zin, but also enjoy Cab and Cab-blends. The Cupcake Cab is a wine I discovered more recently than any of the others. Like most of our grocery store buys, it is a California wine. At around $10 a bottle, I love this wine. The Koonunga Hill, an Australian Cab-Merlot (we also like the Cab-Shiraz), is the other bottle that I have enjoyed for years. I paid $3.65 a bottle at Martin's in the mid-90s. Today I paid $11, on special from $13 (less the 15% discount). Since my everyday price point is closer to $9 a bottle, I was pleased that it fit the budget for the moment. This afternoon, as I headed down the Cab/ Merlot/Pinot aisle, I got stuck behind a slow-moving woman on her cell phone. It turned out that she was soliciting wine advice. She is not a red wine drinker, but had been asked to pick up a bottle. I steered her to the Bogle Merlot and put a bottle in my cart. All of the Bogle wines are very quaffable California vino. The Merlot is a good choice for those who are new to red wine. Our favorite is the Bogle Old Vine Zin, but it is always good to have a go-to bottle of the Merlot on hand.
I drink a lot of Zinfandel, all from the West Coast and mostly from California. The Cline and Dancing Bull Zins both sell for around $12 a bottle. The are big bold wines that work well with the spicy foods I love. I was very happy to find both bottles marked down to $10 today. And finally, my new favorite weeknight wine, Pepperwood Grove Old Vine Zin. At around $6-7 a bottle, it is the best cheap red wine out there! These days it is my go-to table wine.