Please pair my menu courses with great and affordable wines!
Here's is the menu for my dinner party:
Baby Arugula Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Grapes and Chianti Pecorino
Slow-roasted pork shoulder (or lamb)
Creamy polenta w/ mushroom ragu
Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Raisins
I need a white wine to with salad, choice or red or white for main. Can't spend more than $15/bottle. HELP!
I would serve an oaked Chardonney with the salad, with the pecorino and toasted walnuts it can hold up to a sturdier wine in my opinion, and the buttery flavor in a California Chardonney should work well.
For the main the flavors are pretty earthy so you will want something that compliments that, a Shiraz would bring out the sweetness in the raisins and would be bold enough to stand up to the bacon and the lamb, possibly could overpower pork depending on the cut. You might also try something from Spain, two that are within your price point that would go well and compliment the smokiness of the bacon are Can Blau or Atteca. White for the main is going to be tricky. If you need one I would go with a sauvignon blanc from Australia or a white blend from Australia or Washington State.
It is difficult to make specific recommendations since it varies so much depending on where you live.
Your $15 limit is going to make a true Bordeaux unpalatable. You could try a blend from McCrea they do Bordeaux and Rhone blends are from Washington State, might be out of your price range though. If you can find The Hermit Crab a Rhone blend with Roussane from Australia, good and definitely in your price range.
You might be able to find Layer Cake Shiraz from Australia, it is a large producer that should be in your price range.
«Your $15 limit is going to make a true Bordeaux unpalatable.»
Not true. There's a lot of affordable white Bordeaux around and some of it's quite good. One example among many: here in Quebec, where the Canadian dollar is worth about US$0.95 and where inexpensive wines are overpriced, the 2009 white Graves from Château de Roquetaillade La Grange goes for C$14.95, and that includes our 13% sales tax. It's a fresh, easy-drinking and quite typical white Bordeaux.
That said, I like your idea of the Hermit Crab a lot better than a Sauvignon-based Bordeaux.
pairswell has a great suggestion with The Hermit Crab (by d'Arenberg) from Oz.
For the res, I'd suggest a California blend such as Marietta Cellars' Old Vine Red, that contains syrah, zinfandel, and a number of other grapes. There are several of this type in your price range.
I like Shiraz/Syrah, Malbec or Rioja so I'd go for one of those three. The first two would be more full bodied and offer more of a contrast to a white for salad. (assuming you go varietal). I liked the 08 El Coto for the Rioja if available - for the Malbec I say get something that is discounted within your range (maybe don't go less than $7 unless you know what you're doing) and is from Argentina or Chile. I've liked most penfolds shiraz that I've tried also. You could get the Hyland line:
that link even says it is good with lamb! I guess I'm not so bad at this :/
I don't really drink white wines unless they have bubbles :(