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Fluid: 5 Wines I Like, Under $15 (plus wine words)

July 26, 2010
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typical SB with glass in hand

A well rounded SB knows her way around fluid as well as solid- and if wine is any indication then I am very, very round.  Lately I’ve been asked how I began to learn about wine, and the somewhat embarrassing truth is that I just drink it. However, when pressed I will admit that I lived in San Francisco for a few years (frequent Napa and Sonoma visitor), keep Karen MacNeil’s Wine Bible close at hand, and come from a family that enjoys talking and tasting about wine as much as food. That, and I just drink it.

Huber Gruner Veltiner Hugo , 2008: $12

I discovered this last summer and happily so. Easy drinking* and lots of citrus that allow it to pair well with chicken, seafood, even a brightly flavored veggie pasta salad.

Quattro Mani Montepulciano, 2008: $12

Simple and soft, with flavors of berry and an almost almond aroma.  This guy has a long finish*, so I prefer to drink it after a meal so I can enjoy its flavor a little more.

Small Gully Wines, Robert’s Shiraz, 2004: $15

I found this Austrailian bottle in a great shop in the Berkshires last fall.  Maybe I was just having a great weekend away, but I instantly fell in love with this wine. Intensely layered* with blueberry and currant flavors and a smooth texture*. I could drink this all year long, but it is particularly good with the rich flavors of fall food.

Zuccardi Malbec Serie A 2007: $15

Cherry and chocolate in this Argentinian wine, and a bit of pepper at the finish. The middle child between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Malbec can sometimes be overlooked on a wine list for no good reason. This one in particular has a bold but not challenging* flavor.

In Situ Chardonnay 2008: $15

I bought this Chilean wine as a gift for someone, and then ended up drinking it myself- oops. (Its ok, I bought the intended recipient a different gift.)   I know, I know, it’s not cool to like oaky* chardonnays anymore, but whatever. This bottle is just mildly buttery/oaky, with a layer of bright fruit that makes it ok to enjoy in even the most discriminating of wine circles.

*Guide to my use of fancy wine words:

Easy drinking:  This wine doesn’t play hard to get. There are no games here- just a fun afternoon romp. In direct contrast to Challenging. Challenging wines are needy- they keep bothering you with questions about your relationship (“Do you like me? Do you like me better with steak or with chicken? What, you don’t like me anymore?”). We need both easy drinking and challenging in our drinking (and romantic) lives- balance is always key.

Long Finish: Finish refers to the aftertaste of a wine, what lingers in your mouth. My preference for wines with a long finish is to enjoy them by themselves, perhaps with a book in my reading chair, perhaps on the porch with friends, but not necessarily with a meal. Just my preference though.

Layered:  More than just a pretty face, this guy has a lot going on. Different flavors, different aromas, different sips could give you different impressions of what you are tasting.

Texture: This refers to how a wine feels in your mouth. Not something that can easily be described, you really need to subscribe to my method of “just drinking it” to learn. There really is a difference- heavy, light, syrupy, oily, on and on.

Oaky: Refers to the taste given to a wine that has aged in oak barrels.

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