Need a wine that looks & drinks like a 10 but costs around $10 a bottle? Let me show you the ropes.
Alright — next time you’re invited to a shindig, and you volunteer as tribute to pick up the vino, head to the store. If it’s a BevMo or Total Wine type of place, awesome. Don’t be intimidated, I’m here to help you, remember? If not, Trader Joe’s has a selection that’ll get the job done on the $10 bottle too.
If you find yourself at Total Wine, go right to the French section. Let’s face it, if you roll up with a French wine in hand, it screams “I know what I’m doing!!”. More folks these days (considering the time of year as well) are red drinkers rather than white, so let’s go with that. Killer wines from the Bordeaux region (Cabernet/Merlot dominate) are gonna be tricky to find for less than a pretty penny, or without knowing what to look for. So, instead, look for the word Rhône.
The Rhône Valley is a pretty place in the more southeastern area of the country, and it’s got some stunning offerings. The grapes there are mainly Syrah and Grenache but, for all intents and purposes, you don’t really need to know that. All you need to look for is a Côtes du Rhône.
“Côtes”, in French, means “hills”. The term is basically a way of categorizing these wines as entry-level but, again, your friends don’t know that. What you’ll deliver is a smooth red wine with integrated red fruit flavors and non-fruit components like hints of spice and smoke. Sultry, huh? It’ll be dry (i.e. not sweet) but won’t make your mouth feel like you’re playing chubby bunny with cotton balls, kapeesh?
Homage to Heritage (H to H) has a good little bottle priced at $8.99. It’s surprisingly layered for the price and going to air on the side of lighter mouthfeel with ripe red fruit. However, if you’re willing to toss in an additional $6, go for the Halos of Jupiter 2014. Talk about sultry! The dark cherry and floral aromas are deeply concentrated and combine with a weighty mouthfeel that makes this bottle drink like it costs at least $25-$30. That’s exactly the message you want to get across to your host, right? You matter to me. I wouldn’t just get you any ol’ bottle. Well done friend, we’ll know the truth.
Just in case anyone gets fancy at this Friday night hang out, these wines you bring over will be a marvelous accompaniment to any hard cheese that’s on display. But don’t fret, you’re just as well off with this selection if no food is present, which, let’s be honest, will probably be the case.
Samantha Stowell began her adventure with wine 4 years ago after quitting her corporate life as an interior designer. After completing the Advanced Level 3 WSET course, she traveled to McLaren Vale, Australia to work for Mollydooker wines. Since returning, she has been the sommelier of a wine bar in Downtown Santa Ana, CA, helping to develop their wine program and is currently the resident sommelier at Yves’ Restaurant & Wine Bar in Anaheim Hills, CA.