Wine: Cheap is the new pricey

JG-V2012-SB-Bottle-HR_optThis month marks a milestone for the Advocate and cheap wine. In fact, the milestone probably wouldn’t have been possible without the Advocate wine column, which helped demonstrate that consumers are interested in wine that doesn’t cost a lot of money.

Because that interest was one of the first steps in getting to my new book, “The Wine Curmudgeon’s Guide to Cheap Wine,” which will be published later this month. It will be available as an e-book ($9.95) and in paperback ($12.95), and you’ll be able to buy it at the regular online retailers as well as on Wine Curmudgeon.

When Advocate founder Rick Wamre asked me to write a wine column some 10 years ago, I wasn’t sure there would be any interest and didn’t expect to be doing it for long. But there was interest; Advocate readers were looking for simple, clearly written advice about wine they could afford to buy. That’s a market that the wine business has traditionally taken for granted, and hence the column’s longevity and the book.

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The book focuses on the process of cheap wine. In this, there aren’t any recommendations, which is probably a first for a wine book. That’s what this column and my wine blog are for. The point of the book is to help consumers figure out for themselves what they want, offering common-sense advice about how to make that decision.

This month, then, three of my favorite cheap wines:

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• Any number of $10 white wines from the French region of Gascony. There are cheap, well-made and offer refreshing grapey and citrus flavors. Look for Domaine du Tariquet and Mont Gravet among many others.

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• Sicilian reds and whites, which are practically subversive — $10 wine is not supposed to be this interesting. They include Notorius, a white, and the Cusumano red.

• California sauvignon blanc, including Dry Creek, Joel Gott and Benziger, all of which are around $10 and are clean, crisp and tasty.

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with your wine

Roasted chicken breasts
Serves four, takes about 30 minutes
Want something you can slice for a sandwich for lunch, but also makes an easy weeknight dinner? Then try boneless and skinless chicken breasts, roasted in the oven and seasoned with herbs and olive oil. Serve with the California sauvignon blancs.

Grocery List
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts,
about 1 pound each
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
assorted dry herbs, such as tarragon, thyme, basil and oregano

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Mix the herbs, salt and pepper, and olive oil and baste the breasts all over. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes on one side, and then turn over, baste again and cook for another 10 or 15 minutes until done.

Ask the wine guy

What’s a grocery store wine?
Cheap wine with a clever name and cute label that is sold mostly in grocery stores and is well made, if a little boring. It’s important to note that not all wine sold in grocery stores is “grocery store wine,” given how grocery stores have upgraded their wine departments and that not all wine sold there is boring.

ASK THE WINE GUY
taste@advocatemag.com

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