Category:$10 wine

Labor Day wines

This may be the most difficult holiday to pair with wine — not so much because of the food, but because of the weather. It can be cool. It can be hot. Those conditions can dictate the wine, since you really don’t want to drink a 16.5 percent zinfandel if it’s 100 degrees out, or a light white if you had to move the picnic indoors because it’s chilly and raining.

The solution? Light red wines.

Keep these in mind. (And, if you don’t mind a shameless plug, the Wine Curmudgeon will be on a panel this weekend at the Kerrville Wine & Music Festival discussing this very subject). This style of wine is versatile enough to go with most outdoor food, from barbecue to chicken and maybe even grilled shrimp, and they ?re fruity and low enough in alcohol so that you won ?t start sweating after one sip.

Becker Vineyard Prairie Roti 2007 ($17) This Rhone blend (mourvedre, grenache, syrah, and carignan) is an excellent example of what Texas winemakers can do with grapes that aren’t cabernet sauvignon and merlot. One caveat: The roti has limited availability outside of Texas.

Beauzeaux Red 2005 ($10). I’ve never been able to figure out why this isn’t huge. It’s fruity, it’s food friendly, and it’s cheap. Plus, it has a cute label. But it has never taken off, despite glowing reviews.

Layer Cake Cotes du Rhone 2007 ($16). A red blend from France made by an American. It has more fruit than a French-made Cotes du Rhone, which makes it ideal for this purpose.

Wine of the week: Koster-Wolf Riesling Trocken 2006

image Dallas in August. Hot weather. Glaring sun. So why do so many people insist on drinking heavy red wines?

The Wine Curmudgeon does not know. Instead, I drink wine like the Koster-Wolf (about $10 for a 1-liter bottle) ? light, low in alcohol, lemony, and cheap. Plus, it ?s both food friendly and well-made enough to drink on its own. Think chilled, sitting on a shaded back porch in the evening just before the sun goes down. Or serve it with grilled or boiled seafood.

Trocken is the German  designation for a dry wine, but don ?t be confused. It ?s not nearly as dry as Americans are used to. But this doesn ?t mean that it ?s unduly sweet. Rather, it ?s balanced by the acidity in the wine ? as this one is, with the lemony flavor.

And did I mention that it ?s cheap?

Wine of the week: Bogle Petite Sirah 2006

image The Wine Curmudgeon will not forget the first time he drank this, years ago, when he was just a little cranky and starting out as a professional wine drinker. I bought it by mistake, not realizing there was a difference between petite sirah and syrah. And who says mistakes don ?t pay off?

Very little has changed with this wine over the years. It ?s still cheap, about $10, and still good ? peppery, dark and fruity, but not as showy as shiraz.  It ?s like the person who shows up at work every day and does a fine job, but never gets ahead because they don ?t run around high five-ing everyone during meetings.

Drink this with end of summer barbecue, sloppy, tomatoe-y Italian food, and even something as simple as meat loaf.

Wine of the week: Yellow + Blue Malbec 2007

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The Wine Curmudgeon has been looking for a great, cheap Argentine malbec for years. The Yellow + Blue ($10 for a 1-liter box) may be it.

A couple of caveats: Availability could be limited, and there ?s no guarantee that the wine will be around after this vintage. That ?s because it ?s the project of a startup importer called J. Soif, and wine importing is a difficult business. What works one year may not work the next year.

Having said that, the Yellow + Blue is a $10 Hall of Fame candidate that delivers more than $10 worth of wine. It has well-done tannins, something that ?s rare in cheap malbec, and the fruit isn ?t so over the top that it covers everything else else up, another flaw in $10 malbec.

So what about the box? Soif boss Matthew Cain, who has worked for Kermit Lynch, one of the best importers in the world, says his focus is not only on quality wine, but on green wine. Hence organic grapes and the box, called a TetraPak, which is supposed to be less harmful to the environment than a glass bottle.

This is an interesting sales pitch, but the problem with selling wine as environmentally friendly is that most of the wine that makes that claim doesn ?t taste this good. Consumers are stuck with a tradeoff between quality and carbon footprint, and what ?s the point of that? If all I cared about was the environment, I ?d drink boxed Franzia.

The green wine discussion deserves its own post, which I ?ll get to soon. Until then, enjoy the Yellow + Blue.

Wine review: Lockwood sauvignon blanc 2007

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The Wine Curmudgeon, who comes from a long of retailers, loves to guess the price of wine. And I ?m quite good at it. Drives the wine producers crazy.

So as I sipped this Monterey County sauvignon blanc, I figured it was a $15 or $18 wine. It had classic California sauvignon blanc varietal character ? some grapefruit, but some tropical flavors as well. It had three flavors ? something in the front, middle, and back. Usually, less expensive wine only has one or two flavors.

The third flavor was a long mineral finish. And, though the wine was only bottled in May, it was ready to drink, another good sign.

So when I checked the price, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find a suggested retail of $10.99. This means, when the wine hits store shelves in a month or so, it should be $9 or $10. This is a $10 Hall of Fame candidate. Serve it with shellfish or grilled chicken.

Wine of the week: Cristalino Rose NV

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The high temperature here has been 100 degrees or more for most of the past month, which makes the Wine Curmudgeon even crankier than usual. Which is pretty cranky,

So what do I do on a sun-blaring, lawn-scorching Tuesday evening after a long, trying day of dealing with editors? Open a bottle of Cristalino ?s rose (about $8), of course.

First, it ?s cheap, which always cheers me up. Second, it ?s bubbles, which cheers me up even more. Third, it ?s well-made, delicious, cheap bubbles, which cheers me up most of all. The rose is bone dry, refreshing and brisk, with low alcohol, a bit of strawberry and caramel, and lots of fizz. I ?m not exaggerating: It ?s amazing how much better this wine makes me feel.

And I ?m not the only who feels that way. Cristalino sparklers have won just about every award possible from those of us who care about good cheap wine, from my $10 Hall of Fame to the New York Times to the Wine Magazines (as difficult as that is to believe). Drink this well-chilled, and serve it with everything from those Tuesday night leftovers to Indian or Thai (it ?s more than fruity enough for the spice) to big salads.

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