Non-Plonk Wines that Don’t Empty Your Wallet

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I’ve been finding more and more great wines, lately, at bargain prices. I am pleased that the wine industry has grown so rapidly in just the last five years. No longer are we stuck with overpriced California plonk or decent $20 California wines that cost $30-$50 – thanks to South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Spain, New Zealand, Australia, and France. I’ve blogged about wine here (imported wines), here (wine is quality of life), and here (recommendations).

I relish great wines at affordable prices, so here goes a few more. One of my newer favorites is a Pinot Noir from Oregon – another wine region that is quickly becoming known for tremendous value and quality. The wine is Soiree Pinot Noir, which costs about $14, and I bought it for $11 on sale at Meijer. It was a steal at the sale price. I’ve also been drinking a whole lot of wines from Spain – my current favorites. Whole Foods carries Gran Feudo, which is a Tempranillo/Garnacha/Cab that sells for about $10. Another Spanish dandy is Toro Demoninacion De Origen 2006, one of my favorite red wines from Spain. Additionally, a “best buy” rating goes to the wine I am drinking right now: Tres Ojos 2005 Old Vines Garnacha, a fabulous $10 wine from Spain that is a solid, everyday wine at $2.50/glass. I tried a new Malbec this month — Chakana 2006, a $12 Malbec from Argentina. It’s a solid wine sold at a sale price of about $9. Plus, there’s another fun wine from Trapiche. I’ve blogged about Trapiche before because it makes a great Malbec. But I have also tried its very good Pinot Noir, which is, once again, available at Whole Foods for $10 a bottle. Previously, I blogged about one of my favorite wines from Argentina: the Dona Paula wines, especially the Cabernet. I also noted that it is a difficult wine to find outside of ordering it on the Internet. I see that Dona Paula is now selling its Los Cardos line of wines, which are slightly cheaper. However, they are becoming available through mainstream channels. I bought a Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec for $8 at my local produce/specialty foods store, and it was a very solid bargain at that price. A solid wine from Chile is the $14 Duo, which is 77% Cab and 23% Merlot. I got it for $10 on sale at Meijer.

And lastly, there is a great Cabernet from St. Helena, CA that is worth mentioning here, even though it is a wallet buster: Salvestrin. This runs about $35 – $55/bottle, but it’s one of the better Cabs I have ever had in the under $75 range.

People often tell me they can’t seem to find a variety of wines in their local area, so, where to get it? I am lucky to live in an area where there is the largest concentration of Middle Eastern folks in the nation (especially Chaldeans). They own all of the party stores (that’s what we call liquor/quick-shop stores here), and there are literally dozens of Chaldean-owned wine shoppe/party stores in my area. These are very cool wine shoppes with rare and bargain selections, and the bigger shoppes have walk-in humidors along with a huge selection of Belgian beers.

Of course, the Internet is the best place for availability, but shipping costs can add up, and, not all states allow wine to be shipped from out-of-state. If you live in an area that has Meijer chain stores, look there for wine. Meijer has become a powerhouse wine seller with a unique selection of affordable, import wines. There’s also Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, both of whom offer varied selections of reasonably-priced, everyday wines. Also, since wine is now becoming very popular with the everyday masses, grocery stores are now selling some pretty good wines. So if you live in a state that does not have state liquor stores, that is an option.

7:39 pm on November 5, 2007