Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wine for Less (or maybe a little bit more)

I really like red wine. A lot. Probably too much. I probably like red wine as much as I hate reggae, which is a whole hell of a lot. The other day I found myself contemplating how much money I spend per year on red wine. I stopped when I got to the monthly figure. I vowed to cut back. But it's funny how much one day and two really good bottles of wine can change things.

After my trip to Mozza last Friday, I had a craving for Montelpulciano Quattro Mani, and I knew that Silverlake Wine carried it (It was there that I first discovered it). Now, Quattro Mani isn't that expensive ($7.50 a bottle), but once I was at the store, I couldn't stop with just one wine. I started looking around at all these bottles, most of which I'd never seen before. I usually buy wine at Trader Joe's because their prices are reasonable, and their selection is decent. But the selection is still limited, and sometimes it can get to feel stifling, like these are the only wines in the world. I'd decided a while ago that I was through with the lowest tier of TJ's wine -- the Two Buck Chuck's and what not -- and I've never regretted that decision. Spending $7 on a bottle of wine at Trader Joe's provides exponentially more value than cheeping out on the lowest of the low. Still, there are only so many wines in the $6-$8 price range that are acceptable, especially once one accounts for taste. For instance, I don't like Beaujolais ("The wine for people who don't like drinking wine!"), and Edan isn't crazy about a lot French wines, like Cote-du-Rhone, etc. You can see how this could limiting.

At the wine store, however, I found a bunch of new, exciting wines I'd never heard of, never tasted for roughly what I was willing to pay. I picked up something called a "Bistro red," which was an everything but the kitchen sink blend, called Hey Mambo. With my bottle of Quattro Mani, the total price was $18.00. Which isn't that bad. And neither was Hey Mambo. (One odd thing about Hey Mambo -- it didn't have a cork, it didn't have a synthetic cork, and it wasn't a screwtop. What held the wine in? A zork. This is the future, people. Buy stock.)

Why have I gone on this tangent? Well, the New York Times posted a list of great wines for under $10 (Thanks to Lisa for the link!). I like their list, and I've had some of them, but I do have one recommendation. They ought to publish little thumbnails of the labels next to each wine. With some of the foreign wines (Uruguayan reds, anyone?), I have trouble even finding the name. A label would be helpful. Maybe that's just me.

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