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Grape Expectations: Your favorite wines

By Anna Sawin

While the name of this site is Kidoinfo.com, I have to remind myself that for the most part, the kiddos aren’t reading it–we are, so I think it is completely appropriate to have a post about Grownup Drinks.

The other night at dinner a friend mentioned a great bottle of wine she had just enjoyed, and told me the name. Which I promptly forgot.

And then I remembered another great wine, one that I had the foresight to document about a month ago by pulling it out of my recycle bin in the bright light of day and taking a picture of it with my phone. (Hello, wino!)

 2008 06 NotyetawinoWhich made me wish I kept a list somewhere of all the good wines I’ve tried and all the ones that people recommend. That last sentence just made both my social life and relationship with wine sound WAY MORE ACTIVE AND INVOLVED than they really are.

So tell me. Do you drink wine? Well, then, you’re a vine one to talk.

What are some of your favorite cheap-but-really-good wines? Red, white, sparkling–give it to us. And favorite names and labels? Like Fat Bastard and Screw Kappa Nappa and Bada Bing–are any of these any good?

Let’s make a go-to list, Internets. Tell your wino friends and ask them to share their favorites in the comments. Because then, you see, we ALL have a list of grape wines. I mean great wines. And some of my favorite lurkers, I just happen to know you drink a lot of wine, so be Reislingable and help a girl out here.

I promise, I’m almost done with the wine puns. But to get you in the spirit the spirit of things, I leave you with this old chestnut.

What did the grape say when it got run over?

Nothing, it just let out a little wine!

Syrah all later!

P.S. The wine above? Marques de Riscal 2003 Rioja Reserva

Here’s what my blog readers recommended in the good and cheap category. How about you?

1. Our house red is the Rosemount Shiraz. Fairly cheap, easy to find, and pretty smooth.

Of course, we could also get all fancy with the boutique wines we bought in Australia or Sonoma, or those we brought back from France, but that might just make you Bordeaux.

2. My go to is Ravenswood Zinfandel – reasonably priced and always good. Used to live near a Trader Joe’s that sold wine and I could try all kinds of stuff in the $5-7 range…now have to make a special trip to Cambridge for that kind of goodness. We’ve had a few good wines from Salmon Run (I think that’s what it’s called). I have a wine journal that I make notes in (usually I forget and have to get the bottle out of the recycling bin). Had some really good Reislings last fall.

When I want a different alcoholic treat I go for Lindeman’s Framboise – it’s a Belgian Lambic beer flavored with raspberries. It’s in a wine sized bottle for about $8.

3. Cheaper reds that we like are the Delas Cotes de Rhone and Louis Jadot Beaujolais Village. Those are around $10/bottle. If you like Zinfandel and aren’t afraid of buying a higher priced bottle, the Ledson Ancient Vine Zinfandels are really, really good.

We have a little wine journal to keep notes of wines we like. Of course by the end of the bottle we aren’t always thinking as clearly, because we usually love it by then.

4. For a little bubbly try Gloria Ferrar. Not cheap but not too pricey ($25ish) and oh so good. Picture yourself sitting on a patio in sunny CA sipping a little Gloria Ferrar and eating almonds while overlooking acres and acres of grapevines. I digress… I like the ’05 Benziger cabernet. I think it’s priced around $15 at BevMo. For cheaper wines I like Fish Eye (it’s even got a screw-on-cap) and the Beringer White Zin ($4 at Safeway and it goes great with a mediterranean chicken pizza from Papa Murphy’s).

5. In this house, we drink the following – three boys under age one will drive you to drink – HA, HA, HA!!
Korbel Champagne (ok, sparkling wine since it is from CA)
Frexient (black bottle of bubbly, forget how you spell it)
Chenin Blanc or Vouvray (very cheap and light)

And when I am very lucky or on vacation… I love Veuve Cliquot (and would drink it daily if I could because I am pretty sure champagne has less calories AND alcohol sip for sip…not that I care…or counting…).

6. We drink some pricey wines, but lately, haven’t had the bucks to buy more (they can only be purchased by the case).

Inexpensive ones we love:
Pindar. Any Pindar. It’s a LI wine, and if you can get them, the Sweet Scarlett is a great red for about 9 bucks a bottle. The two blushes, Spring Spendor and Summer Blush are also great. I have yet to try a Pindar that we didn’t like, though.

If you can find wines from Moldova, they do a Pinot Franc varietal that is awesome-semi sweet red with the taste of cherries. Yum. I’m not sure the name of the vintner, because it’s written in Cyrillic letters!

A decent fallback is Beringer’s White Zinfandel and White Merlot.

For whites, hubby and I adore german wines. Graff or Schmitt Sonne. We like Auslese and Spatlese wine.

7. Oh wine…how do I love thee?
First – fully agree with Laura – Ravenswood Zin is always good.
Other standbys: Blackstone Merlot; Two-Buck Chuck from Trader Joes (Merlot, Cab, Chardonnay – $2.99/bottle and it is GOOD!!!!); TJ’s also has a great pinot grigio for $3.99; Robert Mondavi Chard
My favorites that I save for special occassions because I won’t drink wine over $10/bottle unless it’s a special occassion:
Groth Sav. Blanc (Sara will agree with me on that)
Root:1 Sav. Blanc (a new favorite and it is A.mazing)
Clos Pegase Cab….oh, love.
William Alto – Sav. Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cab, & Merlot – ALL wonderful and that is just over $10.
Goats Do Roam…Ferrari Corano Fume Blanc….Cline Ancient Vine…
Do I drink too much wine?

8. In October of 2007 Woman’s Day ran an article called “Tasty $10-and-under Wines”, which can be found on their website. I have been drinking my through most of them and they are surprisingly good. I am now officially hooked on Prosecco. yum!

9. Ravenswood Shiraz, Cab, Merlot always great standbys
Blackstone Merlot is the former “house wine” of Cafe Bella, and one I like-
Liberty School Cab Sav (Paso Robles California)
Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz 2004(Australia)- or Jacob’s Creek Reserve Reisling 2006 (Australia)-both $12.99 locally; had them at a recent wine tasting event
Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio is EXCELLENT, especially with summer upon us-very light Ruffino Pinot Grigio also good.
Right now, I’d rather pinot grigio to chardonnay if drinking white.
Napa/Sonoma wines; Sterling whites, Franciscan reds
Rodney Strong has some decent wines
“Fat Bastard” and “Red Truck” actually are okay in my book! And I agree “Goats Do Roam” is good, and enjoy the fun of the pun.
Speaking of puns, Anna…you were funny! Just another Reisling why I like you.

10. I like lots of different wines but I tend to pick one and drink it for a good stretch. I’m happily stuck in a bit of a rut between the wine we had the other night, Nobilo ( a New Zealand sauvignon blanc that is pretty easy to find) and St. Supery, a Napa Sauvignon Blanc (also easy to find) both fall in the $10-15ish category

11. my favorite and very cheap is Willowglen Shiraz and my runner up is Yellowtail Shiraz. these are both $8 or under!

12. For a really cheap but tasty wine I like Golden Gate Pinot Grigio. Okay laugh if you must. 3.99 a bottle.

13. Yum. My favorite grown-up treat. Thanks for all of the suggestions.
We are into red blends these days. Nice and full and satisfying.
Favorites are:
Ca De Sol; Big House Red
Red Truck
These are from CA
Pillar Box Red (No it does not come in a box), Austalian
and 2 Brothers Big Tattoo Red, Chile (portion goes to funding cancer research)
All these are under $10
I also agree that Trader Joe’s Red is really good. Can’t wait to til we get one here!

14. It’s been ages since I’ve had wine, but we really enjoyed Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio. It used to be under $10 a bottle but last I saw it was (gasp) $11 or $12.

15. A few favorites (all under $12):
Red: Mark West Pinot Noir (this is probably my favorite) & Smoking Loon Shiraz
White: Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio (yum! tried it after Ted (from Queer Eye) recommended it) & Sharpe Hill’s Ballet of Angels (based out of Pomfret, CT – I also like to give this as a gift – the bottle is so pretty)

16. I third that Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio! and Smoking Loon gets a second endorsement. Fat Bastard IS good. Chalk Hill Chardonnay is excellent. But I’m not picky.

17. Ok my favorites right now are Woodbridge Pinot Grigio and Beringer Pinot but I have drank almost every cheap Pinot and Sauv Blanc that is out there – Ecco Domani is ok but a little bland for my taste and is the House Wine at a lot of restaraunts here in MD.

Would love to find Golden Gate for $3.99 !! Being a wino, I buy the 1.5 liter bottles so that does limit my selection. I want to try Santa Margherita though EVERYONE says it’s to die for…but at $25 for a small bottle, thats gotta be a special occasion!

18. I agree with Sarah on the Prosecco. We tend to get a bottle of that and make Bellinis. It packs a wallop on the buzz front. Yummy stuff!

19. It sounds like you guys get Australian wine over there? I am a sauv blanc drinker and my fave’s are Geisen and Tyler’s Stream but they’re a bit pricey. Another easy drinker is Reilly’s Barking Mad. Appropriate really. One which I love for its price is a French thing called ‘The Arrogant Frog’ which is only $8.99 a bottle! Hooray!!

Anna Sawin blogs at Hank & Willie and is in pursuit of the perfect bottle of wine.

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  • My knee socks in the late 70s-early 80s were Bonnie Doones–is the wine related? Are the Magic Garden Girls on the label?

    Linda at a la mode has some B***H handbags to go with your wine, Melissa!

  • I’m a big fan of the Bonnie Doone wines–the ones mostly named after CA prisons (Big House White, Big House Red, etc.). Though the prison ones are good, my favorites are their Pacific Rim Dry Riesling and the newer (my big favorite right now) The Prodigal Son (a blend of a bunch of reds).

    The guy at one wine store talked me into trying this wine called Bitch (yes, w/scripty font on the label and a pink screw cap—I wanted to hurl). But if you can get over the cheesy, chick-marketing of the wine, the guy was right–it was REALLY good and inexpensive. Blend of reds that just tastes great. Then it was missing for a while, and I haven’t seen it in about a year. I keep looking, though!

    I like the Penfolds and a lot of the Australian wines in general. I like the Brancott Pinot Noir, the Monkey Bay chardonnay.

    Reading this is bumming me out that I have no wine in the house!

  • I don’t meet many reds I don’t love and yes, Fat Bastard is good. For whites, I’m pickier and prefer Sauvigon Blanc’s from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. My favorite is Cloudy Bay but a close second (and cheaper) is Tohu.

  • Seems like there is always some “2 buck chuck” around our house. Not the best wine, but it’s wine and how can you beat the price. Buy it by the case at Trader Joes No wine at the store in RI, so you have to go to MA, but only some stores have wine. Check the website for locations. http://traderjoes.com/locations.asp

  • I was giving a party once, and went to a wine store and said that I wanted to get a red wine that was inexpensive ($10 a bottle or so) and my guests would say “Wow, what is that?” The guy turned me on to Red Bicyclette (http://redbicyclette.com ) I later bought a case of it.

    We also really like a Passover honey wine, which is very different to bring if you go to Passover Seder. Unfortunately, I don’t know the name of it, and last year we had a hard time finding it (due to the bee problem, I think)

    But I recommend doing that a good wine store and seeing what you get. No doubt it will be good.