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.
Readers chime in
• 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
• A Florida wine my wife and I enjoy is from Lakeridge Winery in Clermont – a very likeable, 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 its 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, Calif.
• 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.
Fred Tasker has retired from the Miami Herald but is still writing about wine. He can be reached at email@example.com.