Let me tell you, for most of the American public, wine has really improved in the past fifty years. Most of what was available back then, except for snobs and wealthy insiders, was pretty nasty. Thankfully, that’s changed. Yes, definitely.
As for those snobs? The typical Trader Joe’s makes some good stuff truly affordable, just for starters.
Here are ten we like, with the caveat they can vary widely in quality from label to label and season to season.
And, for the record, we prefer dry rather than sweet.
- Cotes du Rhones. Lighter in weight than what I’d normally reach for, but oh my, how gorgeously it goes with everything on the table. If I had to limit it to only one, this is it.
- Merlot. OK, I like big, chewy red. Lots of body. Especially for that now-once-a-week red meat. I don’t care how much it’s disparaged by some critics. Bless them, they keep the price down.
- Malbec. A South American equivalent.
- Cabernet sauvignon. Once known as Bordeaux, it’s far outstripped its French confines. Lighter in weight, it’s a red we think goes with nearly everything. Well, maybe not fish. But definitely cheese and crackers beforehand.
- Pinot noir. Another notable red, but definitely tricky in the lower price levels. Never mind what the movie says, either. I mean, sometimes Zinfandel does the job better.
- Sauvignon blanc. We had one that was truly, marvelously stony. It’s our ideal, our holy grail, should we ever encounter it again. It was a unique year, as we learned later. And it remains our ideal of a white wine.
- Prosecco. Look, we love bubbly. And when a daughter discovered this during a semester in Italy, where it was priced like Coca-Cola here, we were soon hooked. Like cava, it’s champagne by any other name. Try it with pizza, if you must.
- Rose’. A summer favorite around here. Don’t snicker. An Austrian bottling knocked our socks off, all eight bottles we were able to clutch up.
- Good Italian and Spanish varietals. They come in so many varieties we won’t attempt to name them. I’ve come a long way from my ex-father-in-law’s bubbly Lambrusco, though I still harbor a fondness for it, as do my now wife and elder daughter after encountering it in Bologna, along with authentic prosciutto that melts in the mouth.
- I’d add Macedonian, but we’ve been able to score just one bottle in New Hampshire before my wife and daughter debarked for that part of the former Yugoslavia republic. As they discovered there, many folks are making great wine in smaller quantities and keeping it home. Heads up, should you chance across any.
If you notice, there’s no chardonnay on this list. Too much oak, my wife insists, adding if she wanted that, she’d just bite the table.
What would you add to the list?