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View From the Curb: Nice Wine for Nicer Prices

You don't have to spend a lot for a taste of grapes' sweet nectar

If you’re like a lot of folks in Beachwood and the surrounding areas you probably enjoy a daily glass of wine or two before or during your main meal. And, if you believe everything you read then you know that doctors and biologists have been promoting the consumption of a daily glass of wine for a long time because they feel that it’s actually good for your health.

However, because of the harsh economy, many regular wine drinkers have scaled back or eliminated their wine purchases simply because it doesn’t fit into their current budget.

I’m no sommelier, but growing up in New Orleans, I didn’t taste water until I was 13 – wine was served with every meal and was as much a part of the culture as jazz and jambalaya.

I say just about anyone can afford a daily glass of wine or two if they know where to look and how to shop for cheap and medium-priced wines. The objective is to find a temporary substitute for your favorite $10, $15, $20 and $30 bottles of wine that you have been drinking for years and have acquired a taste for and start sampling some of the cheaper but tasty varieties on sale in the $4 to $5 range. Now before you start shouting, “Wait a minute, that stuff is going to be ‘rot gut’ wine!” I suggest you become adventurous and sample a few interesting and less-costly choices.

My first suggestion is that you start in the wine section of Trader Joe’s in Eton Square. There you’ll find a dandy selection of Charles Shaw wines from California’s Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Charles Shaw wines, affectionately known as “two-buck Chuck” and “three-buck Chuck,” are the largest-selling selection of wines in the U.S. Charles Shaw is available as a Chardonnay, White Zinfandel, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon for just $3.79 a bottle each or a case of 12 for just $44.12 with a 10 percent case discount. I once took three bottles of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon wine without the labels to a dinner and wine tasting party and it was selected by several ‘wine snobs’ as the best-tasting red wine at the party.

If you like wines from Chile you can try a good Vinas Chilenas Reserva Cabernet at Trader Joe’s for just $4.69 a bottle. Then, if your tastes favor a nice pinot noir I suggest a bottle of Blue Fin from Napa Valley in California for only $4.99 a bottle. Other good $4.99 bottles of wine are La Finca from Argentina; Lagaania, a nice light, fruity, red tempranilo from Spain and Green Fin, a nice, crisp, organic white table wine.

Other good buys in the neighborhood can be discovered at the Cedar Green Wine & Cheese store on South Green Road across the street from Heinen’s. If you get on their list they will notify you of their monthly closeout specials. They also offer wine pours at their wine bar. You can order a 6-ounce glass for $5 each before 7 p.m. Along with their incredible collection of fine wines they also offer some real low-cost drinkable wines. For $4.99 they have a Crane Lake white moscato from California plus a selection of Tisdale wines from Modesto, CA. In the $5.99 price range they offer a Beringer Napa Valley white zinfandel; a Falling Star cabernet sauvignon from Argentina; a Camelot chardonnay from Santa Rosa, CA; a Darby & Joan chardonnay from South Australia and a very tasty white pinot grigio from Italy.

Like all low-priced specials these days they usually don’t last very long because a lot of people are looking for the same things you are. So, shop often, especially if you’re looking for wine bargains – they come and go fast. You never know what you’ll find from week to week.

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