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Sep 29, 2009 02:52 PM

Wine recommendations for the novice drinker

I am interesting in a recommendation on wines for a novice drinker. I will probably cook with the wine more than anything and probably enjoy a glass during weekend dinners. My goal is to find something under $10, an offering in a "half bottle" (if this exists) would be great, one good white and one good red.

Strong alcohol taste are a turn off for me so probably starting with something with a lighter taste would be best but I welcome all recommendations for a good drinking/cooking white and red wine for a novice/non-drinker.

As far as accessibility, I have Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Aldi, Kroger, Publix, and beverage stores all within radius of less than 3 miles.

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  1. Red or white ? or what are you intending to cook ?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Both red and white. As far as cooking, not any specific recipe but I have ran across a few that might require cup or less of white or red for sauces, etc...

      1. re: cityhopper

        "I have ran across a few that might require cup or less of white or red for sauces, etc..".

        OK, get your local wine shop to recommend a wine for each recipe. While preparing it, sip that wine, and think about why that particular wine was suggested, and also why that varietal was chosen for that recipe - what is the tie? As you cook and sip, contemplate the flavors and see if you can find the affinity between them. I'll bet that in a few cases, you can do it. Once you "get it," the world is open to you, and you will likely never look back.



    2. The southern Rhône makes a wide range of wines, many of them affordable, that are easy to drink and almost uniquely versatile in the kitchen. Of the many producers, one of the more widely distributed and most reliable is the Perrin family, owners of the renowned Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf du Pape. They also market a line of everday wines under their own name (Perrin or, for organic wines, Perrin Nature) and entry-level wines under the La Vieille Ferme label. The basic VF red (a Côtes du Ventoux) and white (a Côtes du Lubéron) both retail for under $10 in the States, the Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône red for right around $10. They might be a good place to start.

      Don't know if they're available in half bottles (375 ml) or chopines (250 ml/1 cup). Still, be aware that wine is usually more expensive in smaller bottles. Your best bet might be to buy regular bottles, use what you need for cooking and drinking, and save the rest using either an inert gas system (like Private Preserve) or by freezing it (the wine, especially if it's inexpensive, doesn't suffer much if at all).

      1. cityhopper, Trader Joe's rarely has any great wines, but they often have surprisingly good ones under $10. Tastes differ, but at TJ's prices, you can find out for yourself what's good.

        For instance, TJ's has -- forever, it seems -- had an exclusive on La Loggia Barbera d'Alba, selling for well under $10, which is a wine that you could well live with all your life. It is not a "great" wine, but it is a very good one, and the price is right. For an interesting comparison, TJ's (depends on where the TJ's is located) sometimes carries Renwood Sierra Foothills Barbera, also a very good wine, but completely, totally, different from the La Loggia Barbera d'Alba. You can learn a lot about your own preferences just by trying both of the above barberas in the same tasting session and trying to figure out why you like one better than the other. Take notes.

        1. I'd recommend getting a copy of Andrea Immer's "Great Wines Made Simple." Read and taste. She offers an outline for three price levels for most wines. Stick with the lower end and read, then drink.

          Then, when you're done, head to you local wine shop, and not to a big-box discount store, and tell a good salesperson what you learned.



          1. Thanks everyone. Lots of good information to get me started.