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Oct 14, 2008 06:22 PM

Best "non-Big-6" alternative grapes for VALUE?

I was told ...Lesser known varietals cost less,
and/or give more value (supply/demand)

For example:

Cabernet ----> Malbec?
Pinot Noir ---> Boujolais? Montepulchiano?
Dollar for dollar, I have been told the Malbec will be "better" (Like say $15 bottle)

What are failsafe substitutes to save money for a NON-PURIST ?

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  1. There IS NO FAIL-SAFE substitute . . . if you like pistachio ice cream, will almond satisfy? If you have a craving for an Oreo, will Lorna Doone suffice?

    Purist, schmurist . . .You have to LIKE a Malbec, a Beaujolais (which is made from Gamay Noir au jus blanc), or a Montepulciano in order for it to be a good buy . . . .

    Try looking at this thread:


    1. There's an old saying in Yiddish: "If my grandmother had weels, she would be a cart"

      If burgundy tasted like beaujolais ... nah, fugget it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: RicRios

        I've always heard it as "If my grandmother had balls, she'd be my grandfather."

        "Az der bubbe vot gehat baytzim vot zie geven mein zayde."

        Before OP is completely dismissed, I would say that while you may not be able to draw "connect the dots" lines between one "premier" varietal and another "lesser" varietal, there is some truth to the suggestion that "lesser" varietals will often represent better values, just as "lesser" regions often will have better values too. For example, it may be easier to find a good $20 New Zealand pinot than it is to find a good $20 Burgundy. It may be easier to find a bood $20 malbec than it is to find a good $20 cab. If what you really want is a good cab, that may not be helpful. If what you really want is a good $20 wine, it might be very helpful.

        1. re: Frodnesor

          "If my grandmother had balls ..."
          Well, what can I say, Frodnesor, you put in writing the implied meaning, I only said what you're supposed to say.
          As far as "lesser" and "higher" ... don't get me into Gobineau. I only know what I like and what I don't. And that's my advice to 914: nosce te ipsum ( know thyself ).

      2. I look at region first, when looking for value.

        Look to central and southern Italy and to Sicily. And even Barberas from Piedmont. Look to Spain.

        1. I don't know about substituting one varietal for another but...there are some very good lesser known grape juices out there that can be found at a bargain. One of my favorites is petite sirah, Bogle Vineyards does a very good one that can be found for about $12.

          1. Big 6? Someone has condensed the great varietals to 6? Tell me, I can't wait to hear them...

            9 Replies
            1. re: fussycouple

              Ah, shoot, there you go bringing consensus into it . . . ;^)

              Well, the traditional "royalty" has always been Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Chardonnay. My guess is that the OP is adding Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc, but -- who knows?


              1. re: zin1953

                Jason, I'm confused as to how someone as knowledgeable in wine as you are could so severely misspell Nebbiolo ... I don't see it anywhere in that royal list!

                Tongue planted firmly in cheek,

                1. re: zin1953

                  I could be wrong, or maybe my wino friends at the corner of Canal St and Camp St just did not know, but I have never heard Syrah mentioned in the top tiers, regardless of how one defines them. This is not to diminish this wonderful varietal, but it is usually not included. Merlot ("Sideways" not withstanding) is more often mentioned.

                  But hey, who is it, who makes these non-traditional (the "Noble Grapes") lists? Oprah?

                  In the end, I find it's best to find the best wine (varietal included in this, plus sytle and vintage_ to pair with the food, or the mood.


                2. re: fussycouple

                  Well, there's French Columbard, Thompson Seedless, obviously something called "Hearty Burgundy," and then the US grape referred to as "Chablis."

                  Now, to get semi-serious for a moment. There are a few hierarchial groupings of varietals. The main one is:
                  Cabernet Sauvignon
                  Pinot Noir

                  Some would add:
                  Sauvignon Blanc
                  Merlot (but this is not often seen in the groupings). Still, think Petrus and Le Pin.

                  Beyond this list, one could include the other Bdx. varietals:
                  Petite Verdot
                  Cabernet Franc

                  Then, they could add the "lost Bordeaux varietal"

                  But wait, what about:
                  Grenache (and its different spellings, depending on where you are referring to)

                  Obviously, our list can go on, and on. It can be the four "Noble Grapes," or maybe the "Big Six." Or, it can be the "Wonderful Twelve... "

                  Oops, I'm doing a wonderful little Chenin Blanc from the Loire, with some years on it, and it's great. Also, how could we forget the varietals that could go into Port? Who can name them all? Same for Châteauneuf-du-Pape. What are the ~ 13 varietals, that could be included? Bonus points - which ones are whites, that CAN be used in a traditional red?

                  OK, what were we talking about?


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Wait, seriously though, no concord?

                    1. re: Icantread

                      Hey, what's wrong with Manischewitz?
                      (Rhetorical question only, no need to reply )

                      1. re: Icantread

                        It makes good jelly... the grape, not the Manischewitz.