1 Red, 1 White, accessible yet stunning
Situation: Business open house for high-falutin' associates of venture capital firm.
Food: assorted finger foods - classics like smoked salmon, gougeres, trout salad on endive, puff pastry straws, et cetera.
Goal: Impress the attendees with one red, one white that is a far cry from the typical Yellowtail/RedTruck/SmokingLoon boring choices.
Budget: up to $15-ish
Suggested option already is Casa Silva 2005 Reserva Cab & 2005 Sauvignon Gris, though the latter is proving very difficult to locate on short notice.
Thoughts? Thank you!
A follow-up, even if belated....
Note that the venture capitalists want to spend their money on the companies, not necessarily the catering bill! That being said, my final bill for all the libations ended up being over $800, so it definitely added up.
I visited a local winebar that I trust and asked them. These are the recommendations they gave and I gladly accepted, even if it stretched the budget just a hair.
White: Casa Silva Sauvignon Gris 2005. Here's an online review:
...and their spec sheet from a distributor: http://www.vindivino.com/pdf/2504305_tech.pdf
Red: Casa Silva Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2006
Thank YOU for all of the recommendations, I have purchased a few of them for other parties and for personal use - I like using Costco to my advantage!
Definitely stay away from Yellowtail/Red Truck and other usual suspects. Great wines under $15 include In Situ Winemaker's Selection Chardonnay 2005 (from Chile), Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, Chalone Monterey County Pinot Noir 2006, and Pedroncelli Mother Clone Zinfandel 2005.
Usually in business situations with casual wine-drinkers, my go-to red is an Aussie shiraz, especially with small plates/appetizers, where the wine can stand on its own in lieu of a cocktail if need be.
Having dealt with my fair share of investment bankers, lawyers & private equity hotshots, i've found very few are foodies or wine-geeks. For reds they want lush powerful full-bodied wines, nothing too astringent, earthy or wimpy! Check out the '05 Thorn-clarke shotfire ridge. It's a crowd-pleaser.
In the "up to 15 range" (big splurge for these "venture capitalists", lol), the best white you're going to find is German riesling, nothing else comes close, IMO.
The best red for 15 or less is a tougher call... that's a really low price point for any kind of super-impressive red.... I think the lowest risk is probably Valpolicella Classico... it also has the advantage of being fairly "soft".
This leaves the question of how well "a red and white" match the finger foods you've listed... they tend to be more oriented towards white and a sparkler, IMO. What are you planning to match the red with ?
re: Chicago Mike
Agreed on the red comment...these are all white wine foods...if you put a good deal of gruyere in the gougere (as it's classically made) or enough parmigiano in the puff pastry cheese straws, they become red wine appetizers, but not till then...
...if you're at all interested in pairing your apps with wine, that is...
...let us know what you choose...
Wow...tall order...Impress the high-falutin' venture capitalists who are likely to have extremely high disposable incomes and expensive wine tastes with wines that are $15 or under?
Your appetizers ARE classic, and all go well with Champagne, so perhaps a reasonably priced "grower" Champagne, or a high-quality domestic sparking wine like the Roederer Brut Premier, both in the $22-$30 range. A Marsanne or Oregon Pinot Gris for the white, and Southern Rhone red might also work well.
Your goal may be that you and your company impress, and the wine merely keeps your guests around long enough for you to do so. Rather than having them flee immediately because you're serving what is, at least in their minds, plonk. Good luck.
I agree with the suggestion to find a good wine store you trust not to just shove something upon you... That said, if it was me:
White: Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Albert Mann or Trimbach Gewurztraminer (more like $17), or a good Prosecco (a sparkling Italian white -- Adami and Nino Franco 'Rustico' are two good examples but there are others, as well).
Red: Something from Spain, Southern Italy, or a good Barbera. Maybe the basic Morgante Nero d'Avola (Sicily) -- should be easy to find and would fit the bill nicely.
Best suggestion - find a good wine store, tell them your budget, tell them your purpose, and see what they recommend. It's difficult and often pointless to identiy specific wines because what really matters is what your local retailer has available to sell to you.
GENERALLY SPEAKING, though, in that price range I think the most interesting and best quality wines will be Spanish or Rhone.
There's a thread here on best wines under $15 that may be helpful ->