I know that the signs are staring us right in the face. Bank bailouts. Layoffs. Company closures.
And mind you, not just Mom-n-Pop stores. Circuit City. Mervyns. KB Toys. And this doesn’t
include the multitude of Chapter 11 filings in the past year. What’s the average person to do?
You could hunker down and cut all discretionary spending. Or you could cut back but still
enjoy the little things. Like a nice family meal. Maybe with a glass of wine. And it doesn’t have
to be Mylar bagged wine. Real wine in a real bottle with a real cork.
Forget the Specialty Wine Shop
I didn’t make a special trip to my favorite specialty wine shop (though these shops also need
regular patronage if you want them to survive these tough economic conditions) but rather I
visited my neighborhood supermarket for these wines. I initially set the price point at $10 them
did some fuzzy logic math and assumed that since the Federal Government allowed a 25% cost
of living allowance to Hawaii workers, $10 in the States translates to $12.50 in the 50th State.
Given that a standard bottle wine provides 5 servings, $12.50 divided by 5 is still $2.50 per glass
of wine. Not exactly a happy hour price by anyone’s standard. Okay, tighten the waistband and
look for wines no more than $10 per bottle. What I actually found was 6 bottles of wine for
$51.40. Or $8.57 per bottle. Net price $7.71 per bottle after the 10% discount for mixed 6 packs
at the local Safeway supermarket. That’s $1.54 per glass which looks a lot more like happy hour
costs, definitely recession proof.
Mind you, these weren’t Mylar bagged wines nor were they simply vinified in remote regions of
the Golden State. They also included real French rose. Real German Riesling. Real Italian
Chianti. Along with solid value wines from the Golden State.
Red Bicyclette French Rose $8.98
Made from a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault or the traditional Rhone blend of grapes,
this wine has a very attractive and appetizing salmon, pink hue with strawberry and red berry on
the nose, light red berry flavor on the palate with a touch of mineral, good palate cleansing acid
and a clean finish.
Like the Levi Leipheimer of wines. Good at time trialing, good on hills, all around rider but still
without the notoriety of a Lance Armstrong (who would be more like big name vintage
Champagne). I still feel that good Rose is one of the wine world’s unsung heroes. Easy on the
wallet, pairs well with a wide variety of foods and readily accessible at most markets and wine
stores. One of my favorites with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean faire.
Barefoot Pinot Grigio $4.50
Introduced into the “Barefoot” line just 2 years ago, the Pinot Grigio (also known as Pinto Gris
in Western Europe) has nice blend of green apple and citrus flavors with a light body perfect as
that summer sippin’ wine. Devotees to my column will recognize the label as the Gochiso
Gourmet’s favorite bargain wine. Good enough to drink while cookin’, cheap enough to cook
with! And it’s not simply the price point. Barefoot wines have consistently garnered medals in
California wine competitions in the bargain wine category.
Havemeyer Piesporter Michelsberg 2007 $8.53
While the price point of this wine doesn’t allow it to be a classified Kabinett, Spatlese or Auslese
wine (which are richer, riper, sweeter wines), the off dry quality of this Riesling is the perfect
partner for Thai, Vietnamese or Chinese cuisine. Especially dishes with that extra kick of chili
pepper heat. The touch of sweetness balances the spiciness of the dish while the nice acidity in
the wine cleanses the palate between bites.
Lime and citrus aromas with apricot and stone fruit on the palate with balancing sweetness and
J Lohr Estate Chardonnay $8.98
The J Lohr Winery produces five levels of wine with the Estate Series right at med level. This
Chardonnay is a nice balance between rich buttery Chards and clean, minerally Chards.
Therefore it pairs with anything from seafood to poultry to white meats.
Nectarine with a touch of buttery oak on the nose with a medium body on the palate with
stone fruit and a little mineral.
Gabbiano Chianti DOCG 2007 $7.18
The Castello di Gabbiano produces three different Chianti with the DOCG being the entry level.
They also produce a Classico and Riserva Chianti though the entry level DOCG still shares those
earthy dried cherry qualities of its two siblings and would also be great with any marinara or
This wine is not a classic California “fruit bomb” with subtle dried fruit aromas married to earth
and a touch of leather. But very food friendly since it has a nice acid backbone.
Folie A Deux Menage a Trois Red 2007 $8.08
The winery name either translates as “shared fantasies” or a “madness shared by two” and I’m
sure you’re aware of what the name of the wine means. In this case, the “Menage” is a
combination of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Zinfandel is the base of the wine
with Cabernet giving the wine a firm structure and Merlot bridging the two.
This wine has concentrated aromas of red and dark fruit with a hint of licorice. On the palate it
tastes like a big Australian or California Syrah and would pair nicely with anything off the
barbeque grill or hearty stews and braised beef.
No Need to Tighten That Belt to the Last Notch
Since the economic reports released every week only highlight continued doom and gloom, I
don’t even pay any attention to them anymore (it also might make me turn to hard liquor
instead). However that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a glass of vino with dinner every now and
then. Just look for the weekly sales at your neighborhood supermarket and consider purchasing
in bulk – actually just a six pack – if additional price reductions are offered.
Recession Proof Wines