As a self-proclaimed Wine Geek, I’m often asked, “Hey, what’s a good red for under $10?” It’s always $10 bucks, by the way. Never $11.95, or something. But so what? I’m more than happy help someone find a nice wine they can enjoy without worrying about the price. Thing is reds I can enthusiastically recommend under $10 are a tough get. Whites, no problem! There’s a slew of nice New Zealand Savignon Blancs, and decent French and CA whites I can name, just like that. But the reds, that’s another matter.
First off, It’s gotta be something I can stand to drink myself. Second it’s gotta be something a regular person can find. Not some obscure bottle I’ve found in one of the hard-core-wine-geek shops I lurk in. Typically, I point them to something at good ol’ Trader Joe’s. So that’s what I’m gonna do now. Here are three of my JT’s standbys:
1. Il Tarocco Chianti Classico — $8.99 @ TJ’s. If you’ve never had a fine Italian red, this is a good place to start. Strawberry & red cherry fruit, a bit of crushed flowers, spice and earth (in a good way). Plenty of acid to go with most meats & hard cheeses.
2. Rendition Alexander Valley Zinfandel — $8.99 (or maybe $9.99) @ TJ’s. A nice, juicy Zin, with plenty of red & black berry fruit and a hint of Chinese white pepper. Not a bit, alcoholic fruit soup, but plenty ripe for non-Zin Freaks. Great with everything from ribs to cheeseburgers.
3. Perrin et Fils Cotes du Rhone — Around $8.99 @ TJ’s. This one’s French. “Cotes du Rhone” is a kind of wine that uses any combination of three main grapes, Granache, Syrah & Mourvedre. This is the little brother wine of famed wine Chateauneuf du Pape. Very complex red berry, plum and earth flavors. Great will all kinds of meats 7 cheeses.
ONE TO SKIP.
At a diner party this weekend I was poured a glass of Cupcake Red Table Wine. We’ve all seen this one all over the grocery store. It wasn’t terrible, just nothing special. A fruity, easy-drinking, generic red, with no tannins to offend. If that’s what you’re looking for, try it. I just can’t recommend it for the price. I didn't have a second glass.
OK that’s it for now. Not much I know, but I haven’t had time to buy and taste a bunch. Don’t worry, I will. Then I’ll let you know what I think.