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Need help! Our turn to host a wine tasting

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We started a wine group last fall. None of the five couples are very sophisticated, One couple did a fantastic job with American wine theme paired with cheeses. It was spectacular. Now it's our turn. We are avid cooks and were thinking of doing something like a recession wine party (wines under $10), with a series of small plates. We like the idea of having some variety, starting with a white and moving to heavier wines. And we will need to have a dessert plate and wine. We have a few weeks to get this together - any help would be appreciated. (we are in NY and can't buy wine at Costco, Trader Joe's, etc.)

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  1. Do the hosts provide all the food and all the wine?

    I'm not familiar with the selection at Trader Joe's. At the Costco near me (Twin Cities), there aren't many wines under $10, but there are plenty under $20. Some "crowd pleasers" for you to consider are New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Argentine Malbec (Costco has Luigi Bosca for $13), and Moscat d'Asti for your dessert (do something with fruit, not chocolate). It's a start.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Brad Ballinger

      Under $10 drinkable wines....Gazella Vinho Verde (white, slightly spritzy, dry pear flavors for the 08, and only around $6-$7; this is from Portugal and means "green wine"). Look for Spanish roses (bought one today for $6) and Borsao Red, also about $6 or $7. Actually, the best strategy for under $10 wines is to look toward the non-trendy wine areas, Chile, Argentina (I've had really good Malbecs for around $10), and Spain and Portugal.

      1. re: Brad Ballinger

        Sorry, I misread the original post. I took it to mean you WERE shopping at TJ's and Costco. My bad. So, starting over...

        If you are in NYC, just go to Best Cellars and you will have so much available to you. Niki has some good recs above. I'd still stick with a Moscato d'Asti for dessert. It's versatile enough, priced well, and has low alcohol (which might be welcome at the end of the night). You can find some good Cotes-du-Rhone reds around $10. The 2007 Delas is quite good.

      2. Check Zachy's "Top 20 Best Values From France", you'll find quite a few that are very reasonably priced. Also, they're offering free ground shipping on orders above $100 , but you'll need to confirm that one on the phone.


        1. Panarroz Jumilla is a nice red. Pull the cork and let it breathe for 90 minutes.
          DiMajo Norante is a nice wine that might be slightly more than $10. Avoid the 2005 if there's any left on the shelves.
          Berger gruner veltliner will be about $12, but it comes in a liter bottle. Look for other gruner veltliners.
          A friend recommends Chateau St. Michelle riesling from Washington. I haven't had it but it should be nice.

          1. Pobo,

            This is an excellent Chowhound thread on hosting a winetasting party. Jason's comments (zin1953) are particularly helpful. Check it out. Lots of good stuff here:



            1. What about "the varietal that no one has heard of?" Obviously, if there is wine made for it, then someone has heard of it, but you can find all sorts of wonderful wines that are totally out of the mainstream. Think Pinot Meunier with a pork dish in pomegranate and a hint of star anise. How about a Gavi-di-Gavi (Cortese)? You could choose a Grecian Mavrodaphne. The list is almost endless.


              1. Well, if you're going to be a wine lover, sooner or later you'll need to find a good retailer. Now sounds like a good time.

                The problem with recommendations on a message board is that you get to the wine store and they don't have it.

                If you're in NYC you have lots of options. I've heard of Best Cellars, as Brad suggested, and it sounds like it might be a good choice for this event. On the upper east side, and all their wines are $15 or less or something like that. I've never been there though. I wish I only bought wine that cheap.

                If you'd like to start off with a sparkling wine you might enjoy Cava, which is from NE Spain. Some brands off the top of my head are Cordoniu and Seguras Viudas. Cava tends to be somewhat austere so you could even splash a bit of fruit liqueur in it which can be fun too. Cava is widely available; they make an ocean of it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Chris Weber

                  True about not being able to find every or any wine; I usually call the wine shop that I like best to find out if they carry a certain one. I've been looking for 2 inexpensive South African wines lately: Juno Shiraz and Wolftrap (red blend)...can't find either one but will keep trying. South African seems like the LEAST stocked wine region here in SW FL, very slim pickins.

                2. I agree with Niki in Dayton...Gazela Vinho Verde is an excellent, Under $10 white. If you're looking to pair it with cheese, how about Malvarosa (see Murray's Cheeses in NYC)? And a nice, inexpensive red could be Maipe Malbec Mendoza 2008 (Wine Enthusiast 88 points) for $10. Good luck.

                  1. You should have a look at some South American wines. Down here (I am a long time expat living in Santiago, Chile doing wine/culinary tours), there are loads of great wines for $10. Here are some that may be easy to find:

                    --Los Vascos, Cabernet Sauvignon: classic cab from Colchagua, warm valley
                    --Cono Sur, bicycle line has juicy wines.
                    --Concha y Toro, Trio Cab cut with Shiraz and Cab Franc, dark fruit, tannic, needs a steak
                    --Chocolan, Cab Sav 2007 from Maipo, joven great acidity, tannins are w-i-l-d, once again meat would help
                    --Casablanca winery Sav Blanc 08--grapefruit, lemon, juicy, it's an amazing price/quality ratio

                    --La Azul, Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 mineral-laden, balanced, a little nervous b/c it's young but delicious
                    --Terrazas Malbec--you can find this everywhere
                    --Alto Las Hormigas Malbec (not the reserve), juicy and silky, this is a chocolatey Malbec
                    --Torrontes: Crios or Urban from O. Fournier. this is an unusual white that reminds me of a Viognier with a grapey flavor. from north of argentina in salta
                    -O. Fournier Urban line: from Uco, tempranillo, malbec, excellent value and well made

                    Hope this helps point you in the right direction. Best of luck with your tasting

                    Liz Caskey
                    www.lizcaskey.com and http://eatwineblog.com

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Liz Caskey

                      We've attended (though never hosted) several "Southern Hemisphere" tastings. Most have been pretty "all inclusive," reaching from SA to South America to NZ and OZ. This has given the audience the chance to compare and to contrast.

                      Good idea,


                    2. For the dessert wine, check out Michele Chiarlo Moscato. Its in the $12 range and is a very nice light summer dessert wine. Some of the Aussie tawny ports are nice and a great value.