Shopping for quality “cheap” wine can be tricky. The marketing gurus within the industry sure have us figured out. Throw some elegant script on the label announcing the brand, and I assume the wine is elegant and expensive-tasting.
(don’t get me wrong: Josh is a lovely wine under $15! I just need to disclose that I initially only bought it due to it’s elegant, expensive looking label. But give it a try – all variteies!).
Other times, I may fall for the label that makes me laugh, is cute, or pulls at my heartstrings. Now, this strategy is ill-advised and gimmicks should be avoided at all costs.
It won’t take you too long to figure out that cute bottle of wine = not always tasty bottle of wine. Typically, the cute-sy labels does nothing beyond providing a killer headache the next day, especially as you look at their discarded, stained selves in the recycling bin. Consider yourself warned.
On to the good. Are you a Chardonnay lover? Do the words “buttery and oaky” make you feel all warm inside? Rombauer is a gold standard for classic California Chardonnays, but is a special treat at $30 a bottle. Try Napa Cellars‘ Chard for an almost identical experience, at half of the price. YUM!
Malbec is such a great summer sipper, especially with grilled foods. This Malbec from Portillo tastes and feels expensive.
When it comes to Cabernet Sauvignon, the sky is the limit in terms of how much you can spend on a bottle. And many are so, so worth it. Savoring a mouthful of fine cab is one of life’s great pleasures. One of my favorites being Silver Oak…but it’s pricey. A good rule of thumb when looking for inexpensive Cabs is to avoid California…they make amazing high end cabs, but fall short in their less quality varieties, mass-market cabs. Look for Cabs from Washington State, Australia, or Chile; like this Cousino Macul.