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last minute wine advice needed

  • r

Here's the deal: A friend who happens to be an exceptional cook as well as a wine enthusiast has invited me over for dinner at the last minute -- for tonight! (Saturday). She says she's making a porcini risotto and some kind of veal dish. So the question is: what wine to bring? Apparently, my friend already has on hand a bottle of Amarone (which she bought at Trader Joe's for only ten bucks so it can't be that good, but still -- it's Amarone!) What can I buy that will compliment her meal, compete with the Amarone, and not break the bank? (say $20-30) Another Italian red (Super-Tuscan?) I'm assuming but all suggestions welcome... I know Chowhound's usually slow on weekends but is somebody out there who can help?

Thanks!!! Rafi

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  1. It might sound like a cop-out, because this is the wine people always suggest for hard-to-match items (and your menu ain't hard to match!), but I really like Alsatians with risotto. Lotsa zingy acid to counterbalance the peasanty rice. And might work ok with the veal dish, too (though you didn't give details on that one).

    I'm sure others will have more specific reccos, but Alsatians seem to be one of the few wines where you generally do get what you pay for; buy the most expensive you can afford. Can't go wrong with the mid-level Trimbachs, and $25-30 should get you there.


    1 Reply
    1. re: Jim Leff

      go for a nobile de montepulciano, 1995 or 1997/by avignonesi, go for it @$22, its fab

    2. m
      michael (mea culpa)

      How about a chianti reserva? Like Antinori? Or, if you can find it for more money Rosemont Blue Diamond?

      1. My choice for porcini risotto and/or veal would be a well-aged Burgundy or Barolo (nebbiolo-based).

        For an easy off the shelf choice, you can pick up 1997 Ruffino Chianti Classico Reserva Ducale (gold metalic label) at Trader Joe's for about $30.

        I'd like to hear back from you if the Amarone is worth $10.

        1. Try a Tarausi by Masterbernadino (sp?) I've bought it over at the Wine House and it will work nicely with the porcinis .

          1. m
            Michael Lewis

            Although I always maintain that one can drink what one likes with anything, a pairing I have found sublime in the past is Cep (porcini) and champagne.
            It is suggested that Cep be accompanied by red wine but even a young red is overpowering and whites are a little to feeble to measure up to the robust vegetable meatiness of said fungus. Therefore a happy and successful compromise is a dry champagne, Made with the pinot noir grape it has flavour qualities of a red without tannin and, as a Cep is usually eaten at the beginning of a meal, it doesn't ruin the rest of the dishes. If you don't fancy the gasiness of Champagne the the solera system of xerez will also provide you with a few alternatives.

            1. Hi guys.

              Thanks for all the quick and intelligent responses. I should know better than to doubt chowhound -- even on Saturday.

              Just ran over to Topline (well-regarded discount wine n liquor establishment in Glendale) and picked up a bottle of '97 Barolo, per Melanie's suggestion. At $39, I was over-budget but hell it's only one bottle and it seemed like a good price for what it was... Melanie, I'll report on the Barolo as well as the $10 Amarone tomorrow...

              Hey Michael -- "solera system of xerxes" means Sherry, no? I was thinking astronomy until it finally dawned on me...

              1. Where is this Trader Joe's, which sells an Amarone for $10?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Simon Gruber

                  There's one two blocks away from me, but for the branch nearest you, go to the link below....It's the source of many things gourmet and fun for chowhounds on a budget, as well as the place that this chowhound bought the $3.99 Shiraz she is currently sipping.

                  Link: http://www.traderjoes.com

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    The Amarone in question was from the Silver Lake (L.A.) branch of TJs. And I'll get in big trouble with my friends if there's suddenly a run on it... Here are my totally uneducated and inexperienced tasting notes: first sip was disappointing, too sweet, but as I continued to drink, the sweetness mellowed and the wine spread out and got much more complex and amarone-ish -- if that makes any sense. In the end, I quite liked it. Well worth the ten dollars although clearly not as good as the other Amarones I've had (all of three in my entire life.) So go give it a try -- but don't buy every bottle! Sorry, I don't remember the label, but my guess is it's the only ten dollar Amarone -- if not the only Amarone period -- in the store. For those interested, the Barolo was terrific -- but alas I only got half a glass cause all the wine-hounds at the table pounced on it.

                    1. re: Rafi

                      Thanks for the reply; I, for one, won't be scooping up any bottles of the Amarone, as I live in NY.

                      My very first love affair with a wine was a Barolo, 1974, tasted around 1981 or so. Nowadays, I generally can't afford them anymore, and even when I splurged on a $50 bottle a few months ago, it didn't come close to what I remember. Ditto for several tasted at a recent trade tasting.