Tasting Room
FoodandWine
Ray Isle, Food & Wine's Executive Wine Editor

Illustration by Kathryn Rathke.

Winter is here. This means you should buy wine in large amounts, not because you’re drinking more, but because going outside—especially if you live in the Northeast—just isn’t pleasant. Conveniently, most wine stores offer case discounts on wine; usually 10 percent. On a case of $12 bottles, that translates to a bottle free, and change. To keep everyone from driving out into the sleet, snow and the dreaded “winter mix”—which sounds like a snack food but is really just wet, cold stuff blowing in your face—simply because they’re out of wine, here are four great less-than–$12 bottles to buy by the case, and one not-quite-that-cheap but still a steal Pinot.
 
2010 Castello Banfi Col di Sasso ($9)
A Super-Tuscan–style red for a distinctly non-Super-Tuscan price, this blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon is brightly fruity and not too high in alcohol—about 12.5 percent—making it a great cocktail or dinner party pour.
 
2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling Columbia Valley ($9)
I probably recommend this wine too often, but since it manages to be an absurd value year in, year out, it feels like a disservice not to point it out again. Crisp and lightly citrusy, it’s light enough to pour as an aperitif but flavorful enough for dinner.
 
2011 Farnese Trebbiano d’Abruzzo ($9)
Trebbiano, the workhorse white grape of Italy, certainly has the capacity to produce utterly blah wines, but the folks at Farnese in Italy’s Abruzzo region have instead crafted a peachy, aromatic, extremely food-friendly version; it’s hard to resist.
 
2011 Altos Las Hormigas Colonia Las Liebres Bonarda ($10)
Long name—it roughly translates as “ants heights/colony of the rabbits,” which is exactly the sort of name I’d give a wine, if it were up to me. The wine’s from Argentina, but it’s from the lesser-known Bonarda variety, rather than Malbec: a bit less tannic, more bright berry fruit.
 
2010 Toad Hollow Goldie’s Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($19)
A bit pricier, but with 10 percent off if you’re buying by the case, that results in a Russian River-designated Pinot—and a good one, at that, full of succulent dark cherry fruit—for a not-too-painful $17. It’s definitely worth the extra outlay.
 
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