Wine & spirits: Wise buys
Any wine enthusiasts still believe they have to pay extra to get better wine. Well, it ain't so, and I say so. There are many little tricks to spending your money wisely when shopping at a liquor store.
Newly released brands are often launched at special introductory prices. This is the time to try these hopefuls; not once all your friends tell you about a great wine they've discovered and the only thing you discover is the once bargain price has gone up a buck or two. Brands not widely advertised also offer some hope of savings. Look, too, for wines produced in regions that are currently out of vogue. Hardly anyone drinks Greek red wines today, yet the best reds of Greece are very good and sell at very reasonable prices. And, of course, check out my picks below.
Aveleda Vinho Verde ($8) From northern Portugal, this wine has intense crispness and a vibrant, fresh lemony taste. It's a fine aperitif to get the stomach juices flowing and makes a good match for raw oysters or steamed mussels.
Vina Tarapaca Sauvignon Blanc ($8) This wine was delightful when served to me with a tiny sprinkling of finely chopped sweet strawberries. With simple cheese straws served on the side, it's a memorable opener.
Rocca delle Macie Orvieto Classico ($9) From Tuscany in the heart of Italy, this is a great everyday veal and pasta wine. The flavours are balanced and ripe, though not so assertive as to interfere with delicate food flavours.
Konzelmann Pinot Blanc ($10) A decent wine at a reasonable price -- this has been Herbert Konzelmann's goal since day one. This medium-bodied fruity wine will please with or without a side plate of cheese and crackers.
Deakin Estate Chardonnay ($10) The perfect Aussie white to go with that other Down Under speciality -- the barbie. Whole fish, seafood pasta, chicken breast and grilled vegetables all pair well with its fullish, buttercream cookie flavour.
Winzer Krems Gruner Veltliner ($10) The Austrian white wine you can drink with red-wine foods. It has more body and mineral structure than most fruit-driven or oak-supported whites, and has a bracing, white pepper aroma.
Mezzomondo Negroamaro Salento ($8) One of the new-style reds from Puglia, Italy. The hot southern region used to produce high-alcohol wines with pruney, stewed flavours. Modern winemaking equipment and techniques have resulted in wines with good balance and intense flavours. This one has juicy black cherry aromas suited to hearty winter meals.
Codorniu Nuviana ($9) and Osborne Solaz ($10) From Spain, these two reds epitomize the country's fascination with the new. Nuviana offers ripe flavours and a smooth mouth feel. The latter tends toward big, charred-oak/roasted-walnut aromas and flavours of dark chocolate, plums and vanilla.
Boutari Naoussa ($9) A gutsy red from Greece, with its 2,000-year-old winemaking tradition. Spit-roasted lamb, a juicy steak or a hamburger taste better with a goblet of this.
Skalli Merlot ($10) When France's biggest dry pasta maker turned his attention to the wines of the Mediterranean southwest, the result was an evolution in winemaking. Coarse, rustic, high-alcohol wines were renewed with modern techniques for wines of substance, lushness and balance.
Argento Malbec ($10) The new star of the Argentine wine industry is Malbec, a grape that originally hails from France, though it isn't widely grown there anymore.
Colio Gamay Noir ($10) From Lake Erie's North Shore region of Ontario, this is a terrific everyday drinking wine.
Perefct bubbly for all occasions
Get the lowdown on New Zealand reds
Nigella Lawson's entertaining tips
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