The August 2006 issue of Gourmet magazine has a sidebar – “Best Wines for Grilling.” Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy that magazine. I leaf through it every month. I’m an amateur foodie – and I love new ideas. That said, when the cheapest recommended selection on a rack of pinots to accompany your freshly flame-caressed breaded pork chop is close to $30, something’s amiss.
I love good wine. And I’m willing to splurge from time to time – but my basement doesn’t look like the wine cellar at DaVeed’s. I generally want something I can enjoy but also actually afford on an average salary. Truth be told, that’s not difficult – but guidance helps. A friend of mine whom I’ll shamelessly plagiarize, once said, “The trick isn’t finding a good $50 bottle. The trick is finding a good $10 bottle.”
I agree wholeheartedly. Thus, The Naked Vine is born.
If you’re someone who doesn’t want to worry about “notes of cigar box and elderberry” when it’s 90 degrees and you’re trying to keep your grilled corn from burning, or if you aren’t in search of a wine with the complexity of a Martin Scorsese film as you’re kicking back at the end of another crushing day at the office, my hope is that you'll find something useful here.
According to the California-based Wine Institute, of the 165.1 million cases of wine sold in the
My goal is to offer you a couple of suggestions for everyday consumption each week or so. Everything I select for us will be under $15. I’ll be looking for wines that are easy to drink, easy to get to know, and generally easy to find. I won’t be writing exhaustive tasting notes. My aim isn't to pick up Paul Giamatti’s now-legendary “flutter of
This, logically, brings us back around to those first paragraph chops. To start, here are a few pretty flexible wines that hold their own with just about anything you want to put on the grill. Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are the most common varietals to drink with grilled meats. (note: "varietal" is WineSpeak for "type of grape used in wine") I’ll leave them behind for now. I’ll come back to them when the weather cools a bit.
Castle Rock 2005 Pinot Noir – Thanks to the already referenced “Sideways” – pinot noir prices have gone through the roof in the last couple of years (counterbalanced by the plunge in demand for merlot – which is a subject for another day...). Inexpensive, good pinots have virtually disappeared from the market. When one comes along, it’s smart to enjoy it while you can. Got seasoned chicken or a nice pork chop – or even marinated, grilled tofu? Try this one. Castle Rock reminds me of a slow walk in a cherry orchard, fragrant and silky. I get a little plum in a flavor that’s “thicker” than a lot of pinots – perfect for the backyard. Nice and mild. A $10-12 bottle.
J. Lohr 2003 Riverstone Chardonnay – another winner at right around $10-12, The Lohr chardonnay – crisp, sweet nose – some apple, perhaps. A little sweet when it first hits your tongue, but that sweetness settles out quickly into the buttery taste and citrus that this chard is known for. The long oaky finish would go exceptionally well with grilled fish, chicken, pork, or veggies. Like most chardonnays (and most whites, for that matter), it shouldn’t be ice cold. Unlike the beer in your cooler, it’s best to let this wine warm up a little bit. Cold compresses the flavor of wine – you get the full flavor if it’s around 50 degrees or so.
Altos 2005 Malbec – Got meat? Love steak, ribs, or other big juicy slabs that hearken back to Neanderthal man? Altos Malbec, a great addition to the wine market from
Until next time…prost.