Expert wine buyer Devon Broglie's wine picks include a $15 sparkling wine from the Loire valley in France and a Portuguese red with a surprising amount of spice.
Here, wine experts reveal their favorite bottles costing less than $17. Many of the selections are lesser known but absolutely worth the search.
Brawny reds are customary in cold weather, but it's tough to make it through a whole season on one style of wine. Thankfully, there are plenty of other options.
Illustration by Kathryn Rathke.
Ray Isle Illustration by Kathryn Rathke
It’s rare that one family will tolerate two stars. Think about it—Alec Baldwin? Definitely a star. Other Baldwins? Sort of famous, but just not quite real stars. Ditto Owen Wilson and Luke Wilson. Luke, excellent actor, really appealing on-screen, but just doesn’t quite have the particular audience-drawing whatever-it-is-ness that his oddly nosed older brother has. The same is pretty much true of wine regions. Usually, one grape gets to be the star. Napa Valley, for instance, produces a lot of very good Merlot, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc—but Cabernet Sauvignon is without doubt the leading grape there. 5 great red wines. »
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. »
© 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. »
© Cedric Angeles
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. »