ISO affordable wine as gift.
My fiancee and I have been invited to a dinner party being hosted by older, married friends of mine. In Asian cultures, it's customary to bring a guest gift when visiting another person's house. Since I know the husband is fond of red wine, I'd like to bring him a bottle of something tasty.
We're a young couple currently in the midst of house purchasing, so our budget for this gift is <=$20. In my area, the stores with the most varied wine selections are Trader Joe's, Costco, Cost Plus, and Beverages & More. The dinner will be Chinese cuisine. Whether or not the wine will be served is at the discretion of our host, but my guess is that it won't be, since that's not standard in Chinese tradition. However, it would be nice if the wine was able to pair well with a variety of flavors, just in case he decides to break it out.
Recommendations would be greatly appreciated. I'm not very knowledgable about wine, so I'm worried about paying too much for something that isn't very good.
It's impossible to list all the $20 red wines you might find that are good candidiates, so I would suggest asking the guys at Trader Joe's or BevMo for a recommendation. They are unlikely to steer you to a wine that is not worth the price, and the prices are great at these places.
They will be helped if you can give them some idea of what the host likes, but if you don't know, ask for an interesting Spanish wine--there are lots of really good ones in that price range and your host may be less familiar with Spanish wine and therefore appreciate the opportunity to try something new.
I fthis person is a wine afficionado, you might want to consider something else. Perhaps a bottle of olive oil or chocolates.
PLEASE see if you can find a Mark West Pinot Noir anywhere...it is SO good for only $10 to $13 at most places here in Florida, not sure if it is available in your area. My son and I have noticed that many local area restaurants sell the Mark West PN bottle for $40 or $50. It really is a beautiful thing! Mark West is not a mass-market label, so you might need to call a few wine shops, that's how I found out about it.
I've read positive reviews and testimonials about Mark West Pinot Noir, but note that Mark West makes more than one type. BevMo is selling the "Mark West Pinot Noir California '05" for $13 ($11 with ClubBev card). Chubbypanda appears to be from the Irvine/Los Angeles area and Bevmo's Irvine store has it in stock (inventory can be checked at bevmo.com).
Wine Spectator's "Daily Wine Pick $15-$30" gave 89 points to the "Mark West Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2003" ($20 retail). This might be the wine sold at nice restaurants. Here's the link: http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Dai...
Another good Pinot that should be available in Irvine is the 2005 Babcock Tri-Counties Cuvee ($17 at The Wineroom in Irvine - http://www.wineroom.com/winelist.htm#...). I've never bought from The Wineroom (I found it on Google Maps), so Chubbypanda should call ahead. Here's that wine's page at the winery's site: http://www.babcockwinery.com/Merchant...
I would suggest a bottle of Eiswein (Ice Wine). The half-bottle looks special, it's something outside of the usual red, and you also don't run the risk of bringing a bottle of red that they don't like/don't think highly of. There are quite a few on the market within your budget, too.
Unfortunately you probably don't have time to order the bottle online, where you'd find the widest selection at that price. But stop in to a smaller wine shop and I'm sure they'll have something!
Chinese you say? Break out the XO! hehe, j/k. BevMo's 5-cent sale ends this Monday, and they still have quite a big selection of on-sale wines.
Given that traditional Chinese meals aren't that heavy (and Chinese themselves tend to be not very experienced wine drinkers) - I would suggest white/sparkly that goes down easily - possibly a riesling or gewurzteminer (sp?)