In the continuation of the “what to drink when you can’t afford what you really want” series, I thought I might bring up a few more example of some of my favorite wines that appeared on our dinner table and at our barbecues this summer.
Columbia Crest Two Vines White, Washington State:
My friends and I have been drinking gallons of this stuff. So much, we’ve considered buying stock in the company. When this wine first appeared at the local Fred Meyer sore, I thought it was a good deal at $6.99. Later, when the New Seasons picked it up and offered it for $5.99 I thought it was a great deal. Then I was thrilled when it turned into a fantastically spectacular deal back at Fred Meyer at $4.99. Then I was surprised, and almost a little suspicious when it dropped to the ridiculously insane super stellar deal of $3.99 at Trader Joes. Then it sold out. Naturally. In fact I think we achieved that single-handedly. At this point in the article, here, you’d probably see some wine bloggers talk about all the characteristics of the wine: aromas, mouth-feel, balance, finish. I don’t really work that way. I’m not here to coddle readers; people can figure these things out for themselves. It’s more fun for everyone that way.
Hogue Red Table Wine, Columbia Valley, WA:
This is one of the other bottles I kept dropping in the 6-pack carrier with that Columbia Crest white. I wasn’t really paying attention to the vintages since the wineries making these larger-batch wines are pretty consistent. This wine wasn’t particularly flashy, but it wasn’t unpleasant. There are a lot of Portuguese reds at this same price, but a lot of those are like sipping grape juice off a dirty chalkboard through a stale cigar. Although this bottle may be opened and emptied with little fanfare and notice as to what was inside, I’d certainly notice if it sucked. It didn’t suck, and that makes it a winner. I keep getting more of this to see if I can finally pay attention and give it the full tasting report, but then I mostly end up thinking “Eh. Whatever. It goes with dinner. That’s good enough.”
Hardys Stamp Shiraz, Australia:
Long known for budget wines, there really is a sea of Australian Shiraz. Here is another. Does it stand out any more than the others? Mmmm . . . Not really. But it tastes alright. It’s not really quite as food-friendly as the red wine listed above, but then it’s not ALL about the food, is it? Sure, it’s not going to win any awards, but then . . . well . . . aw, who are we kidding? We know they hand out wine awards to just about anyone, don’t they? We see bottles all the time with a gold or silver medal from some obscure festival or some other rinky-dink regional wine tasting event nobody has ever heard of. “This wine got 3 gold medals at the Tri-County Wine Tasting and Auto Parts Swap Meet in 2009!” Just like pee-wee soccer: everyone gets a trophy. So in that case, this probably will win some awards. Does it matter to me? Not in the slightest. But it’s under $6, and I’ve had far worse for $20.
Iron City Old German Premium Lager: This is a fantastic sparkling wine made with a fine blend of barley and hops in the Old German style of winemaking. It even has an Old German guy in lederhosen on the label! You’ll notice I didn’t pay attention to the vintage again because . . . Okay, I’m not fooling anyone. It’s beer. But at some times, for any wine lover on a budget, it comes a time that rather than stoop to the level of the bottom shelf for that jug of engine degreaser passed off as “Burgundy” or “Chablis”, it’s time to get the fizzy yellow stuff we had in college. As every winemaker will tell you, it takes a lot of beer to make good wine.