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Help me round out my wine rack!

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 18 October 2010 at 10:33

We have a nice little "china cabinet" that we use for out tableware; it's not an antique or anything special, but it does serve its purpose and spruces up our dining room a bit. It also has nine slots for wine bottles arranged in two rows - five on top that I have delegated to red wines, and four on the bottom for white wines. They tilt just slightly downward, but i haven't found this to be a problem.

For reasons primarily of budget, my wines will probably always be less than 10$; having said that, I am finding that there are some pretty good ones out there in that price range. I'd like to get a good cross-section of wines for most any occasion or need that might pop up and could use a little guidance as I am very much a layman when it comes to wines. First, I'll tell you what I have - try not to laugh too hard at some of them!

Top Row (Red):

1) Andre "Cold Duck" Burgundy Champagne from Ernest & Julio Gallo (http://www.gallo.com/) - I know it's cheap and it's not "real" champagne, but it has been a "special night" champagne for the beautiful Mrs. Tas and me for 20 years - going back to when we were even poorer than we are now - so why break tradition? We have tried other more "honest" champagnes, and I thought they were ok, but Mrs. Tas, when she does have anything to drink, prefers this. It actually tastes pretty good, in my opinion, and will always have a place in our wine rack.

2) Barefoot Merlot (http://www.barefootwine.com/our-wines/overview/red/Merlot.html) - This is an inexpensive-yet great-tasting wine in any variety that I have tried, and the merlot is one that I like to use for French onion soup, as well.

3) Barefoot  Zinfandel (http://www.barefootwine.com/our-wines/overview/red/Zinfandel.html) - I haven't yet tried this, but if it is anything like the other Barefoot wines I have tried (the merlot and the moscato), I am sure it will be a winner.

4) Bella Sera Cabernet Sauvignon (http://www.bellaserawine.com/ourwines/wines.asp?v=CAB) - The bottle I have is from 2006, and I am really looking forward to trying this imported Italian wine the next time we have a "wine, cheese and movie night." I know nothing about it, but Giada de Laurentiis endorses it, and when she says frog, I jump pretty high.

5) Mogen David Concord (http://www.snooth.com/wine/mogen-david-concord/) - Believe me, i know this is one of the cheapest of the "el cheapos" but I like the label design and the flavour is pretty good, too. In general terms, it seems to me that American wines are broken up into two categories: the California-type wines prevalent in (you guessed it) California as well as parts of Oregon, Washington and even Arizona, if I remember correctly - using grape varieties brought here from Europe. The second category coul be labeled "north-eastern" wines that seem to be based in the upstate New York and surrounding areas, generally featuring wines from concorde grapes native to the continent. Until I can afford a "better" example of a north-eastern wine, this one does pretty well. Over the weekend, I found that the blackberry variety of this label goes well with wild game.

Bottom Row (White):

1) Ernest & Julio Gallo "Twin Valley" Chardonnay (http://www.gallo.com/) - Since many recipes that I try call for a "dry, white wine," I always try to have a chardonnay handy. I haven't yet tried this one, but E&J Gallo has a good reputation and I see no reason to believe that this will be a "bad" wine.

2) EMPTY

3 EMPTY

4) Mission Mountain Winery Riesling (http://www.missionmountainwinery.com/?page_id=18) This Montana-based winery shows great promise, using grapes from the region as well as other local flavours (including huckleberry) in its various wines. I chose the Riesling as my first try from this winery, but haven't yet opened the bottle. I had purchased a bottle of "Sundown" from this label earlier this year, but it seems to have disappeared....of course, my 18- and 20-year-old sons know nothing at all about this, even though I've been assured that the missing bottle will be replaced on their next payday and there won't be any more mysterious disappearances.

Alright, so that's what I have; here's what I need:

As I said, I am very much a novice, so I am quite open to suggestions - I would like to hear any opinions and experiences on what I have, and please don't be afraid to give honest assessments where this is concerned. I would also like some advice for filling the two empty slots. The slots are "intended" for white wines, but this doesn't absolutely have to be the case if I am missing any good wines that I should have, regardless of colour. One thing I noticed is that I seem to have a lot of the "sweeter" wines and would appreciate suggestions for balancing that situation with a few dry choices, also regardless of colour. Also, if anything I have is an absolute bomb that should depart the rack with all due haste in favour of a "better" choice, please let me know. I wish I could step out of the price range mentioned above, but that just can't happen at this time; that being the case, I am very much wanting to make the most of my modest wine budget.

Thanks in advance!

Ron
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2010 at 11:04
If you can get the reds, you should be able to get Bella Sera's Pino Grigio (white). It is a perfect example of what a good pinot grigio should be...balanced, light, and dry (ish). This white is a perfect introduction to learning that not all whites are over-oaked, "buttery" chardonnays from California.
 
While you are at it, try their Chianti (red) too. Excellent chianti for $8.00!
 
Around here you can get GREAT Chilean and Argentine wines for $6-10, both reds and whites. Maipo Valley (Chile) has great reds. Mendoza from Argentina is good too.
 
One Super Sauvignon Blanc from Washington State at $10 here is Chateau Ste Michelle. A really nice crisp sauvignon that will go well with cheese and movies.
 
By the way, if you want to try a fun drink, a sunday morning brunch coctail that's delicious and justaboutright, try a Mimosa. It is champagne (or any bubbly) and orange juice (preferably no pulp). Just mix it 50/50 or whatever you like. A real nice way to do this at $7.49 a bottle is Cooks Sparkling Wine (California). Go for the Brut, or if out try the extra dry. Both make nice mimosas.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2010 at 11:27

hey, john -  thanks for the suggestions. i will definitely try the bella sera pinot grigio if i can find it. both the chianti and burgundy that i have tried brought out a negative reaction from mrs. tas - and they should have been "good" choices since they were from decent italian resaurants. i may give the bella sera variety a try, because i like the idea of an italian dinner with a nice chianti ~ Wink

the chateau ste michelle sounds familiar, and i am pretty sure i have seen it. will definitely try to get the sauvignon blanc if i can find it. in your opinion, would the sauvingnon blanc be a better choice than cabernet sauvignon for cheese and movies?
 
interestingly, i don't recall seeing any chilean or argentine wines on the local racks, although i have heard very good things about them and will take a more-detailed look at a local grocery with a whole aisle dedicated to wines.
 
we do have a lot of australian choices and i have tried couple of different labels; yellowtail (http://www.yellowtailwine.com/) is the one that sticks out in my mind - they had a very good 4-year-old shiraz and a nice chardonnay. any opinions on the australian wines?
 
have had the mimosa before when i worked at a fancy-shmancy (at least for montana) hotel that would have "waffle and omelet" sunday brunches, and always love this refreshing drink. on the next morning brunch i make, i'll be serving mimosas again!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Hoser Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2010 at 13:51
My experience lately Ron, is that two brands specifically make a consistently good wine at a more than reasonable price. Those brands would be Yellowtail (an Aussie wine that Kiwi may have more info on) and Barefoot. We have tried both and they are remarkably consistent and pleasing to the palate.

If I could compare them to something everyone knows it would be trader Joe's "two buck chuck"
Obviously it isn't two bucks anymore, but these wines are a step above the trader Joes, and I have been pleased with all we have chosen. I think they would be worthy of sitting in your wine rack waiting for company to arrive.

By the way....the rack is supposed to pitch the bottles downward slightly to insure that the cork stays wet.

Good luck with it Ron

P.S. I'll bring the wine when we get invited over for antelope Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2010 at 14:16
Originally posted by TasunkaWitko TasunkaWitko wrote:

....the chateau ste michelle sounds familiar, and i am pretty sure i have seen it. will definitely try to get the sauvignon blanc if i can find it. in your opinion, would the sauvingnon blanc be a better choice than cabernet sauvignon for cheese and movies?
 .....
 
Ron, the absolutely most correct answer to your question is that the better choice is the wine you prefer! Really. Forget all that snobby-fru-fru stuff. Drink what you like~ after all, it is YOU who are drinking it, not the wine connossieur writing at Wine Spectator.
 
A sauvignon blanc is perfect for cheese, as is a cabernet sauvignon. For my wife an I, we happen to prefer the fuller bodied red to complement the rich butterfat in the cheese. Others prefer a white...there is no "wrong" ....and those who say there is are snobbish and more interested in appearances than on true simple enjoyment of the food and wine. And again, to further muddy the water, SOME whites DO go better with SOME cheeses, though note the word "better". There are no absolutes.
 
Again, go with what you like. Experiment, and in no time you'll find out what's best for you and gain self confidence with your choices.
 
By the way...when Mrs Rivet and I make the Baked Brie or Camembert, we think it pairs better with a bubbly (champagne or cava) or a Sauvignon Blanc than it does with a red by a long shot. So there you have it!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2010 at 14:22

hey, dave - i've heard mention of trader joe's two buck chuck, but have never seen it or tried it. good to know i am on the right track with the barefoot and yellowtail wines i have tried. i have thought both labels were good, but not being an "expert," i never know for sure what i should be looking for.

for instance, i read that some can (indeed, some SHOULD) be consumed right away, while others actually get better over three or four years - at which time they can either reach a plateau, or in some cases, start to not be as good. very hard to keep track of! now that you mention it, i remember reading that about keeping to cork from drying out - makes perfect sence!

we'll see how it goes - it looks like barefoot, bella sera and yellowtail are at least three labels that are very reliable as well as available in my area. those are definitely good places to start, and i will also check on the availability of the ones that john has mentioned. the chateau ste michelle in particular sounds intriguing. i'd like to replace the really cheap ones (mogen david concord and gallo chardonnay) with similar types of wine that would be a step up. one good chardonnay i have found is actually from spain and sold under the label "don luciano." i mentioned it in my paella venado post, with a picture of the label, and think it is worth further study.

speaking of venado - we did do a couple of modest sampling of the antelope over the weekend; nothing elaborate, just a couple of different varieties of simple home dishes to see how the meat from this particular antelope tastes. i'll write more on that when i can in the midwest/great plains forum!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2010 at 14:25
Quote there is no "wrong" ....and those who say there is are snobbish and more interested in appearances than on true simple enjoyment of the food and wine.
 
that is one thing i have definitely learned, john - i guess i feel like i need a bit of a "jump start" due to the fact that wine is not something commonly bought in our house. between you and me (and the rest of the internet world now that i have posted it) i do take a fair amount of heat every time i "waste money on rotten grapes!"Ouch
 
seriously, though - if something really is truly a "bad" wine or a pairing that wouldn't work well, i'd like to know so that i can avoid wasting money and effort on it for real.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2010 at 14:37
No worries, Bud....neither person nor family has started out as a wine connossieur. Everyone started out by learning and stumbling, and those lessons are the ones that yield the best results and the longest lasting appreciations.
 
I would say (from personal experience) that "easing into" the world of wine is a lot more fun than "jump starting" into it. Yeah it may take more dollars in the long run (over a lifetime) but learning what you do not like in a wine is just as important as learning what you do ~ and how to differentiate the two when they are both intermingled inside the bottle!
 
By the way, rotten grapes are not wine, they are bad vinegar. Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2010 at 15:02
i hear you on the vinegar ~
 
one thing i would like to do, if possible - is get a good sampling of wines that are either from fairly local sources (such as the mission mountain winery mentioned above) or ones like bella sera and yellowtail, where the wines are from other countries known for good wine. to me, it is always interesting and a good conversation starter to have one or the other rather than something "common" (for lack of a better term) that anyone recognize from TV ads etc., but at the same time, i want stuff that is good and shows that i have put some thought into it and would rather have a good common wine than a bad local or foreign wine. that's why i was intrigued with the bella sera when i saw that it is from italy AND heard that it is truly a great example of good wine at a reasonable price. another one that comes to mind is blue nun from germany (although i will have to go outside my self-imposed price range by a few short dolalrs), and of course the yellowtail from australia, which i have found to be pretty darn good. your chilean and argentine wines sound great too, if i can find them!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kiwi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2010 at 16:47
I can only really comment on NZ wines, but consider we export shitloads of it, it must be going somewhere... Anyways, styles to look out for matched with regions of NZ:

Central Otago makes fantastic Pinot Noir, try some if you ever see it;
Marlborough makes some of the best 'new world' Sav Blanc (hot sunny days, cold nights and sandy soil = perfect), with quite a unique blend of asparagus, gooseberry and passionfruit notes.
Canterbury produces some nice pinot noir (but I would say that, as I've helped make some of it. Try "The Crater Rim" if you ever see it, and think of me :) ) if as well as some good Rieslings, but the good Rieslings are normally expensive (locally at least);
I've had some wonderful 'artisan' (small scale, traditional) whites from the Nelson region, included some great Gewürztraminers;
Martinborough makes great and cheap syrah and pinot gris, as does the Gimblett Gravels / Hawkes Bay (could be labelled as either)

Here's your's truely working on the 09 vintage (taken with a antique film camera before any of you photo nazi's jump in):



I'm plunging the cap down on a fermenter of pinot noir, trying to warm up in the autumn frost.
kai time!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DIYASUB Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 October 2010 at 20:33
 Egri Birkaver, the famous "Bull's Blood" red wine of Hungary is served as a dinner wine to accompany spicy red meat dishes such as bogracs-gulyas.
 
 Tokaji ("Tokay" in english) is a Hungarian white wine used as a dessert, or after dinner wine.
 
 I cant say enough about these two wines, that's why I've provided the Wiki links. They're both worth investigating.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 October 2010 at 09:07
hey, kiwi - as always you've put down some outstanding information for us to read, and i do thank you for it. to my knowledge, NZ wines are unavailable around here, but i am certainly going to make a list of your recommendations and double-check at a few places! great picture, too!
 
SUB - i have read about both wines from hungary and would love to try them both - i haven't seen them around either, but i wouldn't be surprised if i could find them (and the NZ wines as well) on our next trip to great falls or billings. i will keep an eye out and will report on any findings!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2010 at 18:01
i came home from work today and saw that, along with a six-pack of new belgium 1554, the beautiful Mrs. Tas had also purchased two white wines to fill up the wine rack they are:
 
oak leaf sauvingnon blanc (http://www.oakleafvineyards.com/) - other than the fact that it is a california wine, there is no other information and the website is "updating."
 
beringer california collection moscato (http://www.beringer.com/2009-beringer-moscato-california) - the website has this to say:
 
Quote

Winemaking Notes
Grapes for the California Collection Moscato were picked as soon as they achieved the perfect balance of ripe fruit flavors and vibrant structure. Winemaking techniques were employed to maintain the vivid flavors naturally found in Moscato grapes.

Wine Profile
This carefully crafted wine offers immediately pleasing peach-scented and honeysuckle aromas with fresh, sweet flavors of juicy stone fruit, honeydew melon, Fuji apple and ripe pears. It is beautifully balanced with crisp acidity and a clean finish.

has anyone had any experience with these? i will of course be eventually trying them, but it's always nice to hear some feedback.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kiwi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 October 2010 at 15:48
In the weekend I tried a very nice Aussie shiraz from Mclaren Vale, named Rufus Stone. It had a few years on it, but when it was purchased it was very affordable, around $15AU. A very nice wine. I'll spare you the tasting notes :)
kai time!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 October 2010 at 15:55
i do like the shiraz wine, kiwi - the only ones i have had have been very young, and while the shiraz may slap you in the face right at first, she does have a way of keeping you coming back for more, until - oh, bother, the whole bottle is gone.....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 October 2010 at 13:21

i had a chance today to peruse the racks a little at the local grocery. it is pretty well-stocked but unfortunately it didn't seem to have anything that i actually was looking for:

a few different bella seras, but not pinot grigio
 
a few different chateau ste michelles (including riesling and gewürztraminer), but no sauvignon blanc
 
no bull's blood at all, or tokaji -
 
i saw lots of them in the 12-dollar-and-under range that i would like to try. one thing i plan to do is open and finish the mogen david mentioned above and replace it with another red wine. one i am strongly considering is the lucky duck shiraz (no website that i know of).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 November 2010 at 12:07
alright, i have found a source for bela sera pinot grigio and also for chateau ste michelle sauvignon blanc. they are a couple of dollars higher than my "budget" so i will most likey have to get them over the course of a couple of pay periods.
 
that makes a couple of different white wines on my "try" list. i now have a hole in my red wine section since we used the good-but-cheap mogen david concorde grape wine over the weekend. any recommendations for a good pinot noir and/or good beaujolais that are less than 15$?
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Originally posted by DIYASUB DIYASUB wrote:


 Tokaji ("Tokay" in english) is a Hungarian white wine used as a dessert, or after dinner wine.
 
 
I still have some bottles from the 1989 vintage in my cellar. 
I last had a bottle about 5 yrs ago and it was spectacular. Truly one of the great wines of the world.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Sepeptember 2012 at 21:05
How's the wine rack coming along Ron?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sepeptember 2012 at 07:12
Ron,
 
1) WHITES: a good Sherry or 2; sauvgnion blanc from Chile perhaps; a Washington state Chardonnay; a Prosecco or Cava or 2 sparkling white wines; and a Riesling or Gewürtaminer semi sweet and/or if it comes off the back of a truck; a Galician Albariño for your next Paella with the largest shrimp u can encounter as well as a Portugese Green Wine, which is very similiar to an Albariño from Galicia.
 
2) REDS: 2 Argentinian Malbecs 100% Oak fermented (aged) preferably from the Andes Reserve; of course, a Spanish wine or 2 if they come across your path for example: MIGUEL TORRES SANGRÉ DE TORO which shall pair purr-fectly with your Oxtail or Beef stews. Then, an Italian Red from Tuscany, Piedmonte or Abruzzi ... Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna sparkling Rosé ... Matches with all types of meze, or tapas and antipasti & Pizza / calzone ... and focaccia or crostini or flat breads.
 
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah as Mono Varietals are lovely too.
 
Tempranillo 100% Spanish Ribera de Duero or a La Rioja: Marqués de Cáceres, Marqués de Murietta, Bodega Muga, Bodega Montecillo or Faustino ... Ysios is from the Laguardia, Álava, Basque Country, just 15 km. from La Rioja and this red is fabulous.
 
CRIANZA = OAK AGED ...  Scala dei Priorat, is a splurge that is unforgettable.
 
Velvety dark fruit and smoky spicy aromas: French Domaine de la Côte l´Ange Châteauneuf du Pape and its elegance is worthy of its $37 usd price tag.
 
3) NAVARRAN WINES: Gran Feudo - Julián Chivite Rosé is a gorgeous Rosé ...
Also, OLITE is a region and a Bodega which produces good reds.
 
4) VALENCIAN REDS. UTIEL AND REQUENA are 2 regions producing some fab reds ...
 
5) MISSOURI, USA :  a colleague had told me that there are some wonderful reds that are being produced in Missouri ... He had been there this past summer and had visited some wineries for tastings.
 
6) SARDINIAN PORT: this is to die and go to heaven ... Portuguese is lovely however, the Sardinian ports are heaven on earth ... Another wine to consider from Sardinia, is the Sella & Mosca, Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva made from Grenache and it is $14 USD.
 
 
Hope this has been of some assistance.
Marge.
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