Cheap Wine Challenge
Here, wine experts reveal their favorite bottles costing less than $17. Many of the selections are lesser known but absolutely worth the search.
Who: Julia Weinberg, director of partnerships and alliances of the must-download wine app Delectable. Read more >
Here, F&W's executive wine editor suggests five top picks for $12 or less.
2012 Vega Sindoa Tempranillo ($9)
A tiny cooperative of eight Navarran families grows the grapes for this bright, crisp Spanish red.
2010 Vale do Bomfim Douro Red ($11)
This blend of native Portuguese grapes from the Douro Valley is surprisingly complex.
2012 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc ($12)
A perennial value, Dry Creek's Chenin Blanc offers layers of citrus-melon flavor.
2010 Il Molino di Grace Il Volano ($12)
A fresh, herby Tuscan red, it's a blend of Sangiovese with 2percent Merlot.
2011 Novellum Chardonnay ($12)
This fragrant Chardonnay is made with hand-harvested grapes from France's Côtes Catalanes region.
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In Search of Good Cheap Wine
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President Thomas Jefferson. © Bettmann / CORBIS
When it comes to Presidents and wine, there’s pretty much one name floating around out there: Thomas Jefferson. He made a number of attempts to grow grapes and make wine at his Monticello estate; during the five years he served as U.S. Minister to France, he undertook at least two lengthy tours of French, Italian and German wine regions; he had wine shipped to him in the U.S. from many of Europe's greatest estates; and he built a subterranean wine cellar for himself, complete with iron-barred, fortified, double-locked door (no one was getting their greedy hands on ol’ Thos. J’s private stash). So what did Jefferson drink? A lot of things: Madeira, Port, Sauternes, Bordeaux (he was particularly fond of Château Haut-Brion), Champagne, Hermitage, Rhine and Mosel Riesling, Sherry, Tuscan reds, Volnay and Montrachets from Burgundy, you name it. Here are a few wines from some of his favorite regions. »
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. Five great bottles to buy by the case.>>
© Iain Bagwell. Food styling by Simon Andrews.
When it comes to pairing wine and fajitas—a situation that might occur for some people only after every last margarita on earth had been drained—here’s a general thought. Fajitas, which are typically served with onions, grilled bell peppers, cheese, pico de gallo, possibly guacamole, maybe sour cream and who knows what other fixings, fall into the broad pairing category of “It isn’t the meat, it’s the sauce (or condiments).” Essentially, you’re picking a wine to go with a mass of wildly different flavors. So you want one that goes with, more or less, anything. How to pick that fajita-pleasing wine. »
Potato Chips with Nori Salt. © Frances Janisch
Keep your carrot sticks and jugs of juiced kale, I say; give me potato chips. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the ultimate snack food. And, in general, America seems to agree, since we eat about 17 pounds per person per year of them (according to the USDA). And—the key consideration here—they actually go well with wine. So in a kind of nod to public service, here are some suggestions for potato chip pairing. »
It’s easy, with wine, to drown in the details. Most of us want to know what grape a wine is made from—Cabernet Sauvignon, say—and where it’s from. Knowing the vintage doesn’t hurt either. And before buying a wine, people usually would just as soon have some idea of whether it’s any good. But beyond that, there’s a hyperabundance of information that is fascinating to the few (wine writers, for example) and mind-numbing for almost everyone else. Try saying “You know, it's kind of amazing, but the grapes for this Central Coast Syrah were grown on a combination of decomposed granite and sandy loam soils!” to someone you're on a first date with. You’ll definitely be watching TV later, alone. 5 refreshingly unpretentious reds that are just plain good. »
Here in the U.S. of A., we drink a lot of Chardonnay—over 53 million cases of it from California alone. Cabernet Sauvignon, too; we love the stuff. Merlot, Pinot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, bottle after bottle of those, too. And that's all well and good. But there are thousands of different wine grapes out there in the world, and with all that abundance, why not take a flier on an oddball but tasty option? Here are five lesser-known but nifty varieties to look for. »
Courtesy of Condes de Albarei
The signature white grape of the Rias Baixas region in Galicia, on Spain’s northeastern coast, Albariño produces crisp, aromatic white wines. Typically unoaked, Albariños are stylistically akin to Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, Arneis and so on, with flavors suggesting pineapple in ripe vintages, or grapefruit in cooler ones, and with a distinctive chalky-seashell mineral note. Tart and lively, it’s a great seafood wine, whether the dish is raw (oysters; sushi; whole raw narwhal, so often a weekday meal in my youth back in Greenland) or cooked. The seafood affinity also seems appropriate since Galicia is home to Spain’s fishing fleet, as well as to percebes, the odd little rock barnacles that are the signature delicacy of the region—well worth devouring, should you ever have the opportunity. 5 well-priced Albariños to get you started. »
Courtesy of Franciscan Estate Napa Valley
Ah, Sauvignon Blanc. It’s zesty, it’s crisp, it’s loaded with citrusy zing, it whets the appetite and it tastes great served cold on a hot day. And, once in a while, it smells like a green pepper exploded in your glass. More on why Sauvignon Blancs sometimes have a cat-pee aroma and great bottles of it under $20. »