Author: Wine Outlook

Good Cheap Wine

Good Cheap Wine

Summer-wine, summer-wine, sum-sum-summer-wine. Thats what this feature is all about. Red wines for summer sipping, backyard barbecues, and picnics in the park. Usually at these events, we just want to relax, lay back, and enjoy ourselves and give into cravings for plain ol simple stuff. And, unless your with a Martha Stewart devotee, fancy gives way to plain and complexity succumbs to simplicity.

I know that when Im scarfing down that third burger with sweet relish and ketchup, I really dont want to take time out to pay homage to the winemaker or to think about vintages. …

Seconds Anyone?

Seconds Anyone?

Looking for a good yet reasonably priced Chardonnay or Cabernet is getting more and more difficult these days. It seems that the average price for these popular wines from leading producers is close to $20 to $25 a bottle. That’s pretty steep for an everyday wine or when you’re entertaining more than six. The popularity of these two varieties is one of the major reasons. The old supply/demand rule is at work. In fact, as Merlot and even Zinfandel gain in their appeal, their prices are also beginning to soar. So what do we do when we have …

The Sensible Wines of the Loire Valley

The Sensible Wines of the Loire Valley

Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary, once wrote of the Loire valley: “The wind is mild without voluptuousness, the sun soft without ardor; the whole landscape pretty, varied in its monotony, light, gracious, but of a beauty which caresses without captivating, which charms without seducing, and which, in a word, has more common sense than grandeur and more spirit than poetry. It is France.” He might just as well have been writing of the wines from this region, which perhaps may never compete with the grandeur of Bordeaux or the seductiveness of Burgundy, …

Chianti…Remembrance of Wines Past

Chianti…Remembrance of Wines Past

As a child growing up in an Italian-American family, I was forever fascinated by the straw-covered flasks of Ruffino Chianti (the only Chianti my father would drink). When it came time to go to the cellar and choose a wine for dinner, I was the first to volunteer and always returned with Chiantieven when it was not the most appropriate wine for the dinner. After all, in our home, Chianti (except perhaps for some Riserva Ducale) was only for family meals, often for Sunday dinner when the menu was pasta with my aunts red sauce and …

The Rape of the Grape

The Rape of the Grape

It may seem a bit extreme to claim that Riesling has been raped. But in a way, it has. This noble variety and contender with Chardonnay for being the best white wine grape was exploited for years by mass producers of run-of-the-mill Rieslings or wines masquerading as such. Consequently, Riesling came to be associated with cloying sweetness and/or vapidity. Indeed, a close friend recently cringed at the mere suggestion of having a Riesling to accompany her baked Virginia ham. “Ugh,” she sneered, “I detest sweet wines” and would hear no more.

“What a shame,” I …

More Matter and Less Art?

More Matter and Less Art?

Not long ago, I sat down with some friends to taste some French Burgundies and California Pinot Noirs. As we evaluated the wines, the one point we agreed upon was that the French wines had a pleasant rusticity about them that was lacking in their California counterparts. Don’t get me wrong. The Pinots were excellent wines, yet they appeared overly polished and almost too perfect next to the Burgundies, whose rough edges only added to their appeal. The Burgundies were like the Pinots in terms of flavor, body, and structure but, as one friend commented, …

Did Somebody Say Beaujolais?

Did Somebody Say Beaujolais?

With wine snobbery so rampant these days, Im not surprised that I recently found myself caught up in it. The other week, a member of our Wine Club posted a reply to a message that had requested a reasonable alternative for Merlot. He suggested Beaujolais Villages. I, perhaps too quickly, responded, asking how anyone could consider this simple carafe wine an alternative to the noble grape that made up some of the most expensive Bordeaux wines from Pomerol and St. Emilion. He defended his position and said simply that he did not regard Beaujolais-Villages as a …

Ive Got a Little List…

Ive Got a Little List…

There are times in the lives of restaurant goers that when the waiter or, worse yet, the sommelier presents them with a wine list, they might feel somewhat intimidated. It’s as though theyve met the Lord High Executioner from Gilbert & Sullivans Mikado, whose “little list” contains the names of “society offenders” and, should they choose the wrong wine, they “might well be under ground and never would be missed.” But is there a wrong wine?

First off, if there is a wrong wine on the list, its the restaurant owner who should feel embarrassed …

Wine for Spring

Wine for Spring

With spring having just arrived, I thought it fitting to find a wine to celebrate the season. I wanted a wine that would reflect this time of years crisp breezes, green lawns, budding flowers, and sunny days as well as its rainy ones. By this time, youve probably guessed that I dont share T.S. Eliots view that “April is the cruelest month.”

The first wine that came to mind for this feature was Sauvignon Blanc. This dry, crisp wine with its characteristic herbaceous, grassy nose was perfect. Its colors that range from faint chartreuse to pale straw …

California Values

California Values

Well with all the volatility in the stock market these days, many of us are probably forgoing our plans to purchase that case of ’97 Cinq Cepages or ’82 Lafite. Heck, we’re probably even reconsidering the few bottles of our favorite house wines that we were going to consume this week. So if we have to tighten our belts along with our palates, I thought we might look at some more affordable wines this month from outstanding producers.

On my recent trip to California, I had the opportunity to sample some serious yet relatively inexpensive wines from Stag’s …