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Old 06-09-2021, 07:05 PM   #1
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Best reasonably-priced wine/food matches?

We love wine and have a decent cellar, with some upmarket bottles. But I'm thinking more of a resource for weeknight cooking on a budget. No hideously expensive wines, nor ultra-cheap plonk, either. A range of $8-20 per bottle seems reasonable.

I'll open with a wine we love. We buy it by the case and have gone through many cases over the years. It never disappoints. Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel. $9-11 per bottle.



It's perfect with red-sauce Mediterranean dishes: spaghetti, pizza, lasagna, eggplant parmesan. Also good with roast chicken and light but savory meals.

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Old 06-10-2021, 08:23 PM   #2
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I'll alternate red to white. Here's another wine we buy in case lots. Harken barrel-fermented chardonnay from California. About $12-14 retail.



Delicious! It has the classic California chardonnay richness with buttery oak, but not too much. More than once, we've poured it and had guests ask what it was. Some white wines give my wife headaches (probably sulfites) but this one doesn't.

Goes with white-sauce pasta dishes, fish, frittata, omelette, quiche, risotto.

Excellent stuff for a reasonable price.
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:29 PM   #3
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Hot dogs and Boone's Farm?

Sorry, I couldn't resist. But seriously, I can't drink anymore, and was never a big wine aficionado, but the ex-wife and I used to enjoy drinking German varieties of wine with fresh fruits and cheeses. Wines like Riesling or Gewurztraminer.

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Old 06-10-2021, 08:35 PM   #4
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Hot dogs and Boone's Farm?

Not since my first year at college. How about sloe gin in a chocolate milkshake? It's a wonder we didn't get sick more often.
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:37 PM   #5
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Not since my first year at college. How about sloe gin in a chocolate milkshake? It's a wonder we didn't get sick more often.
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Old 06-10-2021, 11:10 PM   #6
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Not since my first year at college. How about sloe gin in a chocolate milkshake? It's a wonder we didn't get sick more often.
eh, about that getting sick part, I have stories...

Seeeeya' Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 06-11-2021, 08:52 AM   #7
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I like the Bogle Zin too.

My daughter put me onto this:
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Old 06-11-2021, 09:29 AM   #8
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I've been known to keep a few bottles of wine cellared.

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Old 06-11-2021, 01:14 PM   #9
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Catena Alamos Red Blend ($10-12)



A dark, dense wine that's excellent with grilled meats and vegetables. Rich without overwhelming the food, also pleasant for sipping with appetizers.

—65% Malbec: plum, blackberry, and black cherry flavors typical of Mendoza.

—16% Bonarda: (also called Charbono) adds color, dried fruit, leather and black olive.

—10% Cabernet Sauvignon: berry and slight herbal notes.

—9% Syrah: spicy black pepper and blueberry.
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Old 06-12-2021, 02:07 PM   #10
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Wonderful for summer: Airlie Muller-Thurgau Riesling. From Oregon's Willamette Valley, a crisp, mildly sweet white with a rounded fruit bouquet, accented by pear and orange blossom aromas. Great with appetizers and spicy Asian food. $15-18.



Airlie also bottles a dry Muller-Thurgau riesling that's equally good.
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Old 06-13-2021, 01:50 PM   #11
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Australia, infamous for jammy, industrial plonk, also produces some excellent reds. The warm climate of established areas, such as the Barossa Valley, favors the red grapes grown in the Rhône valley of France: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Carignan.

Among the outstanding red blends, a favorite of mine is the Gamekeeper's Red from St. Hallett, established in 1944. The 2018 blends Shiraz (65%), Grenache (26%) & Touriga (9%). The winery bottles several excellent upmarket reds but The Gamekeeper's Reserve costs $12-14 and is meant to be drunk fairly young.



Medium weight, yet full-bodied, it tastes of red fruit with the supple tannins of Shiraz and raspberry from the Grenache, while Touriga (a Portuguese grape) adds accents of rose petals and spice.

It goes well with lamb or game, whether grilled or in casseroles or stews, and equally with Provençal-style dishes such as cassoulet.
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Old 06-14-2021, 05:37 PM   #12
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Summer calls for fresh-tasting wines that can be chilled and not lose their edge. Sauvignon blanc grapes, whether in muscadet from France, fumé blanc from California, or the wealth of wines produced in New Zealand, are a standard with fresh seafood and shellfish, light pasta dishes, and (believe it or not) French onion soup.

Mud House, a South Island winery, is known for it's crisp whites: a sauv blanc from Marlborough and also an excellent pinot gris.


This is a wine we buy in case lots. When we lived in New Zealand we spent a lot of time visiting wineries, tasting and eating. A fault (to my palate) of NZ sauv blanc is an excess of grapefruity acidity— if you want grapefruit juice, then order it. This wine leads with melon and tropical fruit, and a creamy texture backed up with citrus. In that respect, it resembles another NZ favorite, St. Clair sauv blanc, which costs a lot more. At $12-14, it's a bargain.
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Old 06-15-2021, 05:46 PM   #13
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In the US, the most popular red wines are based on the cabernet sauvignon grape. Also popular are the red blends which originated in Bordeaux and were known in the English-speaking world as claret.



While merlot predominates, cabernet sauvignon provides structure and age-worthiness with its tannins. Blends of varying proportions are bottled worldwide, notably in the western US, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. They also vary hugely in price, with first-growth French wines commanding hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are both widely sold as varietals (made from a single grape). Napa Valley is known for the former, with dense, highly-alcoholic wines (often derided by critics as overpriced fruit bombs). Cabernet pairs well with red meat, especially grilled beef, but also with lamb, game, mushrooms, and brown sauces.

Merlot is known for easy drinking, with a mouthfilling red fruit taste and hints of chocolate and vanilla. It's usually less costly and is said not to age well. I don't care for it and don't keep any around.

A cabernet I like, of high quality yet modest price, is Los Vascos from Chile. As you can see from the label, the vineyard is operated by the Rothschild family, known for fine French wines, in the Colchagua Valley, which has proved to be ideal for the variety.



The first grapes were planted around 1750 by the Echenique family, of Basque origin. When the phylloxera disease ravaged the vines of Europe, the region gained notice for being free of the pest. When the Rothschilds bought the vineyards, they named the wine for the founders.

Viña Los Vascos | Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)

While the winery produces upmarket reserve wines, the basic cabernet sells for $8-10, which is a bargain for a wine this good.
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Old 06-16-2021, 02:20 AM   #14
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I don't know much about wine. I have a few kinds of boxed wine that I enjoy and mostly that's good enough. I do know that I do not enjoy any wine with Merlot in it. What is it about Merlot that makes it taste unpleasant? I know that lots of people really like it.
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Old 06-16-2021, 11:46 AM   #15
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About merlot, I don't hate it. I think in France it was seen as a blending variety that took on the character of more distinctive grapes. Still, if I spend ten bucks for a bottle of wine, I'd rather have some I actively enjoy.

About box wines, there are an increasing number of good ones. I've had Black Box and Bota Box mostly for cooking, but good enough for a stray glass when I'd rather not open a bottle. They can be good if you're the only wine drinker in your household, since the wine keeps longer than an open bottle.
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Old 06-16-2021, 03:11 PM   #16
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Another trick for those who love good wine but don't drink much is a device called a Vacu-Vin.

It's a simple vacuum pump that comes with self-sealing stoppers. Draw the air out and your bottle keeps a lot longer.
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Old 06-16-2021, 04:06 PM   #17
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Yup, those Vacu Vin devices are excellent. They work almost as well as those fancy cabinets they have in some places that sell wine by the glass, the ones that use nitrogen to force the wine out of the bottles, so no oxygen gets in.

My Vacu Vin is old enough that the stoppers are different. i wonder if it would work with the newer, better stoppers. I have the original white one, from a long time ago. We don't use it as often now, since there is decent boxed wine.
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Old 06-17-2021, 11:43 PM   #18
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Haven't done a rosé yet, but I tasted one recently that I really like.

The Pedroncelli winery is in the Dry Creek valley of California, where the family has grown zinfandel (primitivo) grapes since 1927. Now run by a third generation, the winery produces great wine for a reasonable price, given the quality.

It's not simple to make a good rosé with zinfandel, a weighty grape, but this one is a standout.



The color is gorgeous. The fresh berry taste and aroma give way to a bit of peppery spice, and a clean, crisp finish. There's none of the flowery cloying quality or residual sugar that's given rosé a bad name in some circles. Don't confuse this wine with a blush— it's not.

It matches well with lightly-spiced pork and chicken, pasta dishes, and seafood stews such as bouillabaisse. It's also nice with fresh appetizers.

The price varies between $12-16, and it seems to sell out early in the year. The winery also sells a signature selection rosé for $18.
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Old 06-20-2021, 01:04 PM   #19
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Time for a pinot noir. Besides its original home in Burgundy, it produces good wine in California, Oregon, Tasmania, and New Zealand. When we lived in New Zealand, on South Island, we visited the center of Pinot Noir culture, Central Otago, and spent several days tasting and eating very well indeed.

The grape is known to be finicky and good Pinot Noir is often priced fairly high. But one of our favorites, also from Mud House, can be found in the $18-20 range.



Deep red and quite dry, it opens with cherry and berry aromas, on a frame of savory, spicy oak. The fine tannins and balanced acidity give it a lingering finish.

It can be sipped alone or paired with a wide range of dishes: salmon, roast chicken or turkey, veal, lamb, roast pork, cassoulet, duck and game birds, and mushrooms. This versatility makes it a good choice in a restaurant when there may be different dishes on the table.
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Old 06-20-2021, 04:00 PM   #20
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Between reviews, here's a note on buying wine. Shopping for wine is an adventure for me, but I try to keep price in mind. When I spend a lot for a bottle, I tend to save it for a special occasion that very seldom arrives. So we have a hoard of really good wine gathering dust (especially during the pandemic).

If you drink wine regularly, you'll recognize some favorites. One way to save on those is to ask at the shop about buying case lots. The guy I buy from offered me a deal: wholesale cost + 10% + sales tax. He makes money and doesn't have to open the case or price it or store it or do inventory.

For instance, wholesale on the Mud House piot noir is about $12 a bottle. By the case, it costs me $13.99 per bottle, saving $4-5.

We also order direct from wineries, such as Airlie in Oregon, and can get mixed cases with a 20% discount and sometimes free shipping.

Online retailers, such as Tannico, offer case discounts and/or free shipping for orders over a certain value.



Happy Hunting!
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