If you’re like me, you spent some decent money on wines for the holidays –– maybe you even went over the top to please family, friends and party guests.
But now it’s a new year, and it might be awhile before that income tax return makes its way into your pocket.
Not to worry. Let’s take a look at some value wines — bottles that, in my opinion, taste much, much better than the price you are going to pay for them: $5 to $8 at the Grocery Outlet I frequent at 5544 W. Fairview Ave. in Boise.
These are decent table wines, staple selections I would turn to throughout the week and probably even serve to guests during cocktail hour –– but I wouldn’t make them the show-stoppers that you pair with your main dishes when you entertain.
If your palate lines up with mine, you are going to love the way they taste and pair with the comfort foods we like to gobble up during this cold snap, or while watching NFL playoff games.
2011 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc ($5, South Africa): Not too many know what to do with a Chenin Blanc, a varietal that is foreign to folks stuck on Chardonnay and other common whites. Don’t be. Give Chenin Blanc a try, especially this one. It is a crisp, dry, yet slightly fruity and mineral expression of the varietal that makes for a fine cocktail or paired with cheese or clear soups like my white chili. I was a little concerned about the 2011 vintage –– 6 years old now –– but it holds up very well and tastes great chilled at around 50 degrees. Its age may be one of the reasons it ended up at Grocery Outlet, but who is going to argue with such a bargain?
2013 Michele-Schlumberger Chardonnay ($5, Sonoma County, Calif.): For whatever reason, I have come across many different varietals and blends from Michele-Schlumberger at Grocery Outlet. I have had really good luck with most of the products from this Healdsburg winery, including a Pinot Blanc that occasionally shows up, and this chardonnay. Right out of the bottle, this one is kind of tart, but it settles down as it gets some air. It is anything but your mother’s oaky, buttery chard. It is on the crisper, cleaner side of the spectrum, and acidic enough to go with certain fish and seafood dishes –– such as the Dungeness crabcakes we make this time of year. For the money, you can’t go wrong.
2013 HIP (House of Independent Producers) Dionysus Vineyards Chardonnay ($6, Columbia Valley, Washington): I bought this one on a lark a few months ago. We have been enjoying it ever since for its dry, clean and bright expression of the varietal. This is a Chablis-style chard, no oak or butter here, just a mild citrus presence that goes great with lighter appetizers featuring chicken or seafood.
2016 Pampa Estate Malbec ($6 Mendoza, Argentina): I tell people to always take a chance on Pinot Grigio (also Pinot Gris) and Malbec because there are always inexpensive bottles to try, and I believe it is pretty hard to mess up these varietals. (As soon as I say that ... .) Anyway, this one is very young and it benefits from being open for a while or spending time in the decanter. There is a spunky kind of vegetative background to go along with the typical red fruit notes. It tasted great with our pot of navy bean soup made with the leftover New Year’s ham bone.
2014 Divinis Grenache ($6 Spain): Most people get exposed to Grenache in a GSM blend (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre). But I have grown quite fond of solo Gernache and it is one of my favorite “Gateway Reds,” milder red wines that can be introduced to people who think they only like whites. I am always willing to try a Grenache because it goes well with a wide range of foods –– and you can even chill it down in summer for a refreshing, cooler sip. We cracked this one open the other night to go with a homemade pizza, and its deep, berry notes and smooth delivery made a delicious pairing. It seems to get more expressive the longer it is open. Enjoy.
2013 Luna Cabernet Sauvignon ($8 Napa, Calif): Make no mistake, this one is a cherry bomb. It benefits from half a day in the decanter, but don’t give up on it as I did after sampling my first bottle. I took it to a blind wine tasting among friends after it spent several hours in the decanter. It ended up being one of the favorites of the night. But if you are looking for that classic leather/tobacco cab, this one is far too young and far to cherry-forward to satisfy you. If you like a relatively low-tannin red with a little pucker to go along with your beef, this one could be for you.
Found on Shelves
I occasionally write about value wines that I discover around the Treasure Valley. If you’d like to get on my email list and be informed about my finds, write me at email@example.com and put “Found on Shelves” in the subject field.