Weeknight Wines

As much as I would like to, I just can’t bust open a $40 bottle of wine every night. Unfortunately, buying some of the wines out of California today would require me to take out another student loan. Some of the wines from France would require a second mortgage. For that reason, I need a backup. I need something to drink when it’s not a special occasion. I need something to open for my neighbor who pours 7-Up in his wine because it “gives it more fizz”. Something that is good, yet affordable. I call wines for these occasions my “Weeknight Wines” and they are the equivalent of a good backup quarterback. They are good enough to rely on, yet don’t command the outrageous salaries of the franchise players.

After years of using Darwin’s natural selection, the weaker low cost wines in my rack are now extinct in favor of better performing price-conscious specimens. They display all the complexity, structure, balance, and taste that the more expensive wines possess but also cost less than $14.00. So for those of us who aren’t parking a boat somewhere in the South of France, here is a short list of some of my favorite Weeknight Wines.

Big House White 2008 ($8.99): This rated number one on Wine Enthusiast’s best buy wines of 2009 and is a blend of four lesser known varietals. On the nose there are peaches and mandarin oranges. It has flavors of citrus fruit, lemon grass, and a mineral element that keeps the light sweetness in check. If you’re missing summer right now, pick up a bottle.

Chateau St. Michelle 2008, Columbia Valley Riesling ($9.99): This wine shows a sweetness that continues throughout the finish. It displays flavors of apricots and pears with a drizzle of honey mixed in. If you like sweeter wines this one is done well.

Pascual Toso 2007, Malbec ($12.99): This Malbec is slightly fruitier than many and displays so many flavor profiles it’s hard to list them all. Coffee, cherries, violets, and blackberries are just a few. The tannins, typically big in Malbecs, are nicely integrated.

Montecillo 2005, Crianza ($12.99): With a light to medium body, this Spanish Crianza is European in style. Hints of smoke, hints of apples, and hints of copper are all tucked nicely into a very solid effort. Everything about this wine is subtle and tasteful.

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