Wines for Hard Times

Stock up on these recession-friendly wines


WineThe guy who picks up my recycling laughs when he sees my bins overflowing with empty wine bottles. "You people seem to be always having a good time."

He's right, we do have a good time. We have three recycle bins: one for paper and two for glass, which are always filled to the top with wine bottles — dead soldiers. I tell him that I write about wine. "Really?" he asks, "You know any good wines for cheap that I can get my wife? She likes that — whatchayacall it? Blue Nun."

I recommend Clean Slate, a nice, fruity German riesling that you can find at Food Lion for $8, a much better wine than Blue Nun. I get this question every day: what's a good wine for less than $10? Last year at this time it was wine for less than $20.

Boxed wine is the absolute cheapest way to enjoy wine. Lucky for you, I wrote an extensive article on boxed wines in the October issue.  The best boxed wines are made by Black Box and usually cost around $20 for the equivalent of four bottles. You can find them at Harris Teeter and Total Wine. For bottles, here are your best bets:

  • 2007 La Boca Chardonnay, Mendoza, Argentina. Clean, fruity wine. $4 at Trader Joe's.
  • 2006 La Boca Merlot, Mendoza, Argentina. Big red-berry fruit followed by a surprisingly firm finish. A super deal for $4 at Trader Joe's
  • 2007 Opera Prima Cabernet Sauvignon, La Mancha, Spain. Zesty red berries. Great value for $5 at World Market.
  • 2007 Notro Tinto de Montana, Mendoza, Argentina. 50 percent sangiovese, 50 percent bonarda. This is the first sangiovese grown in the New World that actually displays the same characteristics as grapes grown in Italy. An interesting wine with the characteristic horse stable smells (don't make me say urine). $6 at World Market.  
  • 2005 Rosemount Shiraz, Southeast Australia. Dark purple, medium-bodied red with hints of plum and a firm finish. Flavorful wine. Easy to find. $7 at Costco, Harris Teeter, and Food Lion.
  • 2006 Francis Ford Coppola Rosso & Bianco, California. 48 percent zinfandel, 27 percent syrah, 25 percent cabernet sauvignon. A good deal for this medium-bodied wine with nice fruits and easy drinking style. $8 at Harris Teeter, Food Lion, and Total Wine.
  • 2006 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet, South Australia. This is a big, jammy wine full of creamy blackberry fruits and a good finish. One of the best deals around. $8.75 at Costco.
  • 2007 River Road Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California. A light, crisp chardonnay. Not buttery, no oak. $9 at Total Wine.
  • 2007 MontGras Reserva Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Chile. Dark purple color. Dark blackberry fruits. A full-bodied, deep-toned, smooth red. Very good buy for $9 at Costco.
  • 2006 Chateau Grande Cassagne Costières de Nîmes. 60 percent grenache, 40 percent syrah. A beautiful red Rhone from southern France, worth twice the price. A big, inky color, bursting with flavors of blueberries and cassis without excessive sugars. I have featured this wine before and am happy to report that the '06 is excellent. $10 at Total Wine.     

Van's Wine of the Month

2005 Red Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State. This is an affordable, unpretentious, easy-to-find wine. It has a clear juice with a dark ruby hue. Very smooth with cherry fruits and a caramel finish. A medium-bodied wine that does not overpower the palate and is a good companion to food. $8.50 at Food Lion and Harris Teeter.


Categories: Uncorked