Situation: You’re going to a friends house and you have been asked to bring a bottle of wine to dinner. A few emails from friends in September got me to thinking about “what to buy” and “what to drink” blog categories. Here is a run down of what to go buy if you are actually in a wine store, ready to buy a bottle.
There’s plenty of wine to choose from in any wine store or grocery store, so there is no excuse to get fed up that you couldn’t find anything, or there was no way of knowing what to buy. The wine world has conspired to make it easier, not harder, to pick a winner off the shelf. Visit a Bevmo or Total wine for national wine stores, or your local wine merchant.
To have a good experience and impress your guests, it’s best to buy more than one bottle of wine. It’s a kind gesture and for a group of 4 or more people, 1 bottle is simply not enough. The more you learn each time you drink wine, the easier it is to choose next time. (In future parties, bring two of the same bottle! )
For the bargain wine shopper, there are some acceptable wines in boxes, but try to stay away from most boxed-wine and jug wine. This isn’t what your friend meant when she asked ‘hey, can you pick up a bottle of wine on your way over here?” The standard bottle size, 750ml, and stick with it for now. If you insist on box wines, Black Box and Bota Box are the two best tasting on the market.
* Don’t buy Franzia for a dinner party.
In that 750ml “value segment”, your choices are many, but the quality to taste balance is most important. Nothing in this price is high quality, so stick with what tastes and looks good. California, Spanish, and Chilean red wines are the go to for decent taste at this price. Try Bogle for their Merlot, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. South African, Australian, and other country reds are not always as tasty.
* Think about bringing a chilled white wine and a ready-to-drink red wine.
California and Chilean white wines are a smart approach. Find a Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc with a pretty label. Tell them you bought it because of the label. Adventurous friends will appreciate a sparkling wine decision as well. Spanish Cava, California Champagne (Korbel Brut) , and Italian Prosecco are the bubbly leaders.
At $10-20, there are plenty of wines to pick. Here you can find tasty wines from all over the world. Italian reds are tasty, prolific, and better with food. Argentina reds are easy to drink in this category.
*USA fans: Coppola makes the tastiest (arguably) and most available reds in this segment.
Higher than $20, you are generally buying based on your favorite brand, grape, or region. French, Top USA regions, including Oregon and Washington, and Italian wines dominate this segment. We’ll touch on these and favorite wineries in upcoming blogs. Be sure to follow!