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Dec 30, 2010 02:32 AM

Venturing towards reds...

I previously preferred sweeter dessert-type wines- Ice Wine, Moscato, Malvasia, Late Harvest etc.

After a surgery, my tastebuds have changed. I no longer enjoy cloyingly sweet things. I now love blue cheese, horseradish, rosemary- all things that I hated before. I am even tolerating coffee these days. Bolder flavors seem to be my thing right now. So, I am guessing my wine preferences may have changed as well.

I am hoping to have time to do some wine tastings to see what I might be into these days.

But, in the mean time, can you suggest some "tamer" reds to get me started? I have not tasted many reds because the tannins used to be too much for me. I would prefer to stick to wines less than $15 a bottle so if I don't care for them I am not out too much money.

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  1. Beaujolais, preferably at the Village level
    Look for a Cotes Du Rhone at a good wine store, especially one that is mostly grenache
    Any Foxglove red
    Di Majo Norante, an Italian sangiovese.
    Mark West pinot noir used to be notable for tasting nothing like pinot noir, but the 2007 version was pretty good for its price. I haven't tasted it since but it might be worth checking out. Also pinot noir from Chile.
    This pretty much describes all merlot. I don't drink it, but I'd look for a decent one, perhaps from Washington State.

    3 Replies
    1. re: SteveTimko

      +1 on the Villages Beaujolais and Cotes Du Rhone. Check out TJ's for good prices, they are light, inexpensive, and low on acid.

      A cheap WA state wine you might like is Columbia Crest for Merlot (try Two Vines, then Grand Estate).... and if you like them, upgrade to a Chateau St. Michelle Merlot. If you get there, you just might like a Cab! I can't drink most Merlots as they are too sweet for me, so it might be a nice "transition wine" for your palate right now.

      Have fun experimenting :)

      1. re: sedimental

        I will visit TJ and see what they have. Thanks for that suggestion.

      2. re: SteveTimko

        +1 on the Chilean pinot noir. I didn't care for them in the least until I had Ventisquero. Talk about an awesome pinot noir for the money! I enjoy it so much, that I even got one of the local restaurants to start selling it by the glass. Now our entire crew orders it by the bottle there. Great wine for the money. -mJ

      3. More importantly, what kind of surgery made this change??
        I might suggest it to my wife, to rid her of her M&Ms & ice cream for breakfast habit!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Eiron

          Well, I wouldn't reccomend it, I had part of my stomach removed. I am not sure why this affected my tastebuds or if this is a permanant change. But I better take advantage of this now!

          I am drinking black coffee as I type, which I destested before. This is going to come in handy for a night shift nurse, such as myself!

          1. re: brilynn79

            Ah, no, not much chance of convincing her to go that route. Too bad it wasn't somehow "cosmetics" related.

            Hopefully your surgery wasn't due to a greater, more sinister disease (like cancer).

            Yes, now's the time to become the "alternate foodie" you've never been! I think you'd better start researching pro-sumer espresso machines right away!! :-)

            As for reds, I'd suggest one of the many decent blends available (more-expensively-known as "Meritage"). Cline's Red Truck is very popular, & I especially like Coppola's Rosso.

        2. brilynn, I would seek out a good wine store and discuss with the owner/manager what you have in mind. Brand names vary with region, and some specific bottles that are being suggested here might not be available in your area.

          Beaujolais Villages and Cotes du Rhone are both excellent suggestions. I would also agree with the Washington Merlots (or Long Island reds, if you're on the East Coast). Right Bank Bordeaux might also be a good option.

          Steer clear of California Cabernet Sauvignons and Zinfandels for the time being.

          And have a good time! ;)

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChefJune

            I am in Indiana so I am at the mercy of anything they see fit to put on the shelf.

            The Indy Wine Fest is coming up. I normally attend, but I am going to be on vacation this year.
            I think I would enjoy it more this year than any other in the past.

            1. re: ChefJune

              I'm surprised to see Zin lumped in with Cab. I love a peppery Zin but have never cared for Cab- too heavy. I am a recovering light white wine drinker venturing towards red myself and barring expensive Pinot Noirs I really enjoy Zin, current favorites are Four Vines, Bogle and 7 Deadly Zins. My new favorite budget red is Red Truck California Red Wine, a great peppery light blend. I recommend checking out some of the blends- they can be quite nice.

            2. On the Italian side, I would start with docetto and then gradually move to
              barbera and sangiovese (chianti). On the French side, I am not
              so sure about beaujolais. I think cotes du rhone (particularly if
              they contain a high percentage of grenache) is a good suggestion, but
              I would add chinon (cabernet franc) on the list and later would move on to

              In addition to cabs and zins, stay away from petite sirah which is very
              tannic. I would also go slow on syrah, tempranillo, malbec, carignane,
              tannat and mourvedre.

              3 Replies
              1. re: bclevy

                Thanks for the run down on what to stay away from right now. Since I don't have any red "experience" besides Malvasia and a few dessert wines, I really was not sure where to begin.

                1. re: brilynn79

                  Another red that I find not to have a lot of Tannins,(the component in wine that makes it astringent and secondly that slight bitter taste) and is very reasonable is Montepulciano di Abruzzo. It is a full bodied red and goes with almost any dish, (for my tastes)

                  1. re: ospreycove

                    Just wanted to give a quick update. I ordered a red wine flight at dinner on New Year's Eve.

                    Unfortunately for me they were huge pours. Wouldn't be a problem for most of you, I am sure. There was a Merlot, Cabernet, Malbac, and I can't remember the 4th.

                    I found them all drinkable, but still slightly strong. The only glass I finished was the Malbac. I do think in time my palate will adjust to them just fine.

                    I went to Trader Joe's on Sunday, but unfortunately we have blue laws that prohibit wine sales on Sunday. So hopefully I will get to do more experimenting soon. A friend is coming over Wednesday, so another opportunity to research.

                    I did some more coffee experimentation this weekend, that research is going quite well!

              2. I agree with the recommendations for beaujolais, but I wonder why everyone has qualified this to be "Villages" level? Nothing wrong with those, of course, but the much better, more distinctive bottlings from the 10 crus do not cost much more (and not a lot at all).

                Given that 2009 is an excellent vintage - perhaps even one of the best of the last century - this is a perfect time to dip into cru-Beaujolais wonderfulness. That is, if you can still find them on the shelves (lord knows, I've done my part to deplete the stocks!). What to expect? Ripe, tangy red fruit and baking spice balanced with a wonderful earthy minerality, racy acidity, an ethereal texture that feels almost weightless on the mid-palate, a sappy, persistent and refreshing finish that begs for another sip, another bite, and more more more! The tannins tend to be very polished and fine grained - nothing at all that should overwhelm your palate, but plenty to provide structure for aging. These are perfect food wines, year-round, and yet ideal for slow sippin' contemplation.

                I'd recommend (all 2009 vintage):

                Coudert's "Clos de la Roilette" Fleurie - the regular bottling is drinking very well (better right now than the "cuvee tardive" reserve bottling which needs a year or so), and I've been getting it for $16 with the case discounts. Shouldn't be more than $20. (the cuvee tardive could run you $25)

                Lapierre's Morgon - well, good luck finding it now in a 750 ml (about $20). The early raves and the unfortunate death of Marcel in October have made this a must-have wine (it took me forever to source a case after drinking 2 bottles and falling in love). If you do happen to find some, be sure to PM me! Magnums should be arriving in January.

                Foillard's Morgon Cote-du-Py - expensive for cru-bojo ($35), but oh-so-wonderful!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                  The reason is that the OP asked for recommendations at under 15 dollars per bottle.

                  1. re: sedimental

                    Ah yes ... then the Coudert Clos de la Roilette is the only possibility at the price mark. The various Burgaud bottlings are priced even lower, but I haven't yet tasted them (on prearrival order).