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Some Cheap Wine Reviews April 18, 2012

Posted by Jim Berkin in Cooking, Food.
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So, what do you when you want to branch out from that two-buck Chuck? Well, you try some slightly more expensive (still less than 5 bucks a bottle) varieties, telling yourself that the wine glut caused by a generation of UC Davis agronomists increasing the grape yield all over the map has driven down the price of drinkable wine and the odds of a five buck or less bottle going just fine with a meal are pretty damn good.

And for the most part, the following wines are all okay. I haven’t dumped any of them down the sink, left them out for a few weeks to become home made salad vinegar or consigned them to the “cooking wine” dungeon (especially since I’d rather cook with a wine I’d drink).

Let’s start with a couple of cheapos from Fresh & Easy market, repackaged & relabeled to hide their non-vintage (grapes from different years) origins or simply just inexpensive – three bucks a bottle! The first was “Big Kahuna” Tempranillo. While slightly thinner than the other cheap Tempranillo I’ve been buying lately from Trader Joe’s (La Granja), it wasn’t bad and paired nicely with some red sauced pasta. And both of them are the non-corked capped bottles, which isn’t as much of a black mark as it once was, especially considering that I’m not cellaring any of this stuff – it’s pretty much being finished off in one or two sittings. Another passable variety is Recoleta Malbec/Bonarda, another lighter red that goes well with my Italian cusine. While the Trader Joe’s cheap Malbec, La Finca, is also very good, this one will certainly be worth picking up whenever I’m in Fresh & Easy restocking on whatever they might have on sale.

The Sprouts health market seems to be the only locale to find another cheap brand that I had some good luck with, Gato Negro Malbec. Their other cheap label, Crane Lake, wasn’t quite as good – tried the Pinot Grigio, and I think I’ll stick to the Villa Borghetti or Gaetano D’Aquino Pinto Grigio I get regularly at Trader Joes.

I’m certainly no wine connoisseur – although when I’ve gone to tastings, it seems I actually do prefer the more expensive stuff. I’ve tried to convince myself that I therefore must have expertise, but since I’m drinking this cheap mass-market stuff along with my (ahem) wonderful cooking, I doubt I’d care all that much in the difference between a decent five buck wine versus a supposedly wonderful twenty dollar one. It’s all cleaning out my cholesterol, ain’t it?

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