December 15, 2011
This is the second in my Trader Joe’s wine tasting series (see my reviews of TJ’s whites). For this round I chose seven reds based first on price ($12.99 and under) and second on origin: a mix of domestic, French, and Italian. Last night I lined ’em up and went to town. Here are a couple of take-home points and some recommendations:
Point No. 1
You’ll have a better chance of drinking superior wine at a low price if you choose imported (France and Italy) over domestic. I was pleased and a bit surprised to find a handful of imported wines that are made in a traditional style and offered at great prices—they actually taste like the wine should, without too much mucking about, and that’s always a good start. These traditional wine styles result in the best pairings of wines with food.
Point No. 2
For the wines noted below, do yourself a favor and serve them on the colder side. Cellar temperature is 55 and most of these red wines taste better when you chill them a bit.
And now, my favorite of the bunch:
Perrin Reserve 2009 Cotes du Rhone ($6.99)
This is an ideal party wine—screw-off cap (you know how I love that), cheap as heck at $6.99 a bottle and totally chuggable. This easy drinking wine made mostly from grenache grapes is the entry-level wine offered by Chateau Beaucastel; think of it as the wine equivalent of Missoni designing for Target.
A few more worth noting:
Chateau Roudier 2006 Montagne-Saint-Emilion ($12.99)
This Bordeaux blend made mostly of merlot would be a good match for a nice winter meal. Call me crazy, but I love a thick juicy steak with Bordeaux.
La Loggia 2006 Barbaresco ($12.99)
Light and a little fruity, the way nebiolo should be—it’s the Italian equivalent of the French Burgundy or pinot noir grape. It has an earthiness that would make it a great match for mushroom-based dishes; it would have been a good pairing with the chanterelle risotto I made last week (sorry, never quite got around to blogging about it, but it was delish).
Il Tarocco 2008 Chianti Classico ($8.99)
Good pizza wine, easy, drinkable, would go well with most tomato-based dishes.
Next time I’ll try some sparkling wines, just in time to stock up for New Year’s Eve.