Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You get what you pay for...

I always wondered what "Aldi" grocery stores were all about, so after having lunch at the re-opened "Havana" sandwich shop (best Cuban Sandwich I've ever had!), Susie and I gave it a shot. Other than finding some no-name lip-balm on the cheap (3 sticks for $1.50, compared to Nivea's $5 per!) and some Devil's Food Cake cookies (yum!) we picked up 2 bottles on the cheap, a Malbec from Argentina for $3.99 and a Crianza (aged in oak for a set time period) Tempranillo/Cab blend from Spain for $5.99. We haven't had the Crianza yet, so the jury's out, but the Malbec turned out to be pretty good, though the first 'fruit bomb' nose was initially a turnoff (but as it opened it was quite nice). No silly 'animal' labels or catchy names, just a varietal I like at a fair price. Caveat--I am a red-wine drinker and finding decent quality for a low price can be a difficult thing to find. For example, it is quite difficult to find a good, cheap Pinot Noir (a true oxymoron!). You CAN find some for around $14-18 (which unfortunately IS cheap for Pinot) such as La Crema or "A" by Acacia, but I recently had a Lindeman's "Bin" series Pinot for under $7 that was pretty tasty. Again, this is not even close to a fine French Burgundy (well, maybe the 1980's jug 'burgundy') but a decent, drinkable Pinot. I normally shy away from Cabernets and Merlots that are super cheap as they tend to be fruit bombs and not really 'varietal specific'. Again, for the price, what do you expect? I have had some success with Australian Shiraz (and blends) such as Rosemount's Shiraz/Cab blend and if you look around you can even find some inexpensive Rhône blends (such as Grenache, Syrah (Shiraz) Mourvedre).&n bsp; As always, it's all in the hunt! For under $10 what's the true risk? Be honest-when is the last time you had to dump out a freshly opened bottle of wine? Another trick at the grocery is to look at the 'gap' in sale prices at Kroger. If a wine is a dollar off, for example, I normally pass. As noted recently, I was 'rewarded' when I bought a Mumm Cuvée Napa rosé when it was marked down to around $14 from $24. If you have a clue what the price point of a wine 'should' be you can sniff out some bargains! Email me your wine 'finds' so I can share them!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Celebrations with bubbly-packaging!

We had a gathering at our partners' home in Moultrie, GA and enjoyed some yummy Veuve Clicquot champagne. We purchased it a few months ago and had it in the refrigerator at work just waiting to celebrate something. Well, an out of town 'break' was just the ticket and we took the wine with us! It was wrapped in a lovely orange neoprene 'huggy' that kept it nice and chilly for a few hours. We popped it in the fridge upon arrival but it was good to know that it remained cold for most of the voyage. Several producers have released their wines in unique packaging designed to keep the wine cool. I know Moet recently had a their base champagne released in a metal canister that served the same purpose. Why all the fuss? That can be followed up with this question: What hurts wine greatly? Temperatures! I've noted how leaving a wine in a hot car can pretty much ruin it (unless you like 'hot' wine like hot tea--or vinegar if you leave it in there longer!). With that being said, if your wine temperature rises or lowers over time, it should be okay (unless as noted you reach extremes, either too cold or too hot). A nice wine cellar is great, but as long as your wine is in a 'cool' dark place it should be fine. That lovely rack over your fridge? Not the best place, FYI. That rack in your dining room that receives full sun for most of the day? Ditto. If you don't have much space, take a wine case, turn it on its' side and leave it in a closet. Voila! A wine-cellar for 'our times'.