A frugal friend of mine (you know who you are, Danny) once brought me four bottles of wine – two in the $6 range, two priced around $2. His idea was to see if we could tell the difference in a blind tasting.
Could we ever.
So there may be a lower price limit on acceptable wines. Still, there are nice wines out there that won’t break the bank, even if you want a glass every night.
With holiday credit card bills arriving, it’s time to find some. So I asked loyal readers to email me the names of the cheapest wines they found drinkable, with brief description.
I got an earful, with favorite wines ranging from $6.99 to $11.99. And I found that newspaper readers can be as purple with their prose as any overwrought wine writer.
Thanks, readers. I yield the floor:
• “I get Concha y Toro, both red and white, in magnums. $6.99. Their pinot grigio is really good.” Barbara Lutz, Coral Gables.
• “Apothic Red. Hints of mocha and vanilla, really good. $10. Leese-Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon, very smooth, full-bodied. $11.” Elizabeth McQuade, Buffalo, N.Y.
• “A Florida wine my wife and I enjoy is from Lakeridge Winery in Clermont – a very likable, tasty light red wine low in tannin. It goes well with red meat, chicken and barbecue.” $11. Franklin Foote.
• “Barefoot Bubbly Extra Dry California Champagne is my favorite – not as puckery as other champagnes, lemony flavors. $9.99.” Brent Santel, Bradenton, Fla.
• “My favorite is McManis Petite Sirah because of it big, bold flavor, great nose and long smooth finish at a great price. $9.99. My wife likes wines that are a little lighter. She really likes St. Francis Red. $11.99. We both love Cristalino Brut Cava. For an inexpensive wine, it has a rich, creamy texture and lots of small, sparkling bubbles. $7.99.” John Grunden, Florida Keys.
• “I like sweet wines, so I love the Mirassou Moscato. It tastes like bubbly orange juice. $11.” Ray Wallings, Newport News, Va.
• “Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon – a really gutsy cabernet sauvignon with incredible depth of flavor and wonderful bouquet. $7.” Donald Dolce, Miami Beach.
• “Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, full-bodied, concentrated Italian wine with character and grace. $6.99. Garnacha de Fuego from Spain, fine and fruity. $6.99. Antinori Tormaresca Neprica Italian red blend with outstanding taste. $10. Salud!” Mario Norman, Hialeah.
• “My wife won’t drink anything but white wine. Good thing we both like Mandolin Chardonnay. Not sweet at all. Kind of zingy. $10.” Abe Finney, Sacramento.
• “Tablao, a Spanish red blend of tempranillo, garnacha, cabernet sauvignon and merlot. An easy drinker with pasta, pizza and on its own. $7.99. Does it have the nuance of all the varietals listed? Possibly not. Is it tasty and affordable? Heck yes!” Ernest Gonzalez, North Miami.
• Finally, Ernesto Esperitu of Miami Beach just threw up his hands: “If I were sophisticated enough to describe a wine as ‘Red Diamond Merlot,’ a magical blend of flavors, redolent and evocative of a fruity orchard, I wouldn’t be drinking the cheap stuff. $9.99.”
You go, Ernesto. And thanks to all the readers for sharing their favorites.