BEV’S WINE BUZZ: Affordable, tasty wines

I am a wine lover who enjoys nothing more than coming home after
a hard day’s work and savoring a glass of wine while I prepare
dinner. Maybe it has something to do with my line of work
– I am a human resources professional – where some days are
spent dealing with stressful people issues.
I am a wine lover who enjoys nothing more than coming home after a hard day’s work and savoring a glass of wine while I prepare dinner. Maybe it has something to do with my line of work – I am a human resources professional – where some days are spent dealing with stressful people issues. But, being that the majority of my days are actually spent helping others, I usually come home with a smile in my heart, knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life. I suspect my love of wine has something more to do with the simple pleasures that are found in enjoying a great-tasting wine at a decent price.

But finding a great-tasting wine at a decent price can be a guessing game. You can’t judge the quality of wine just by its label. Even when some store shelves carry a brief description, they are not always accurate. And the problem I have with most other wine columns is that the wines that are reviewed are often expensive and difficult to find.

Don’t get me wrong – I have enjoyed some memorable and expensive wines in my time. But, being budget-conscious, I limit those wines to special occasions. So on most days when I cannot afford a special occasion wine, I look for an “every day” wine that fits my budget and is delicious.

I ask wine merchants for recommendations, visit our local wineries and sometimes, take a chance on a pretty label. Still, I seem to find the best wines by sharing wine tips with friends.

I have a large circle of family and friends that frequently gets together for dinner parties, barbecues and holidays. We open a variety of bottles that include whites, reds and everything in between. Some are rich; some are light. Some are spicy and peppery and others are citrusy or floral. It turns out that the wines that are the crowd-pleasers are always the ones that are smooth, ripe and have a hint – or more – of sweetness.

So after some prodding from my friends, I’ve decided to try my luck at writing about everyday wines – wines generally priced between $5 and $25, are easy-to-drink and easy-to-find.

For my first column, I will highlight three wines, best served cold and perfect for summer sipping.

The first is Almond Creek Sparkling Wine ($5.99) from Trader Joe’s. Who says champagne is just for weddings? It is light and refreshing with a subtle almond flavor and a hint of sweetness – not quite as sweet as an asti spumante, which can sometimes be too cloying. I like to pair it with English cheddar with caramelized onion cheese, also found at Trader Joe’s.

Next is a chardonnay called Ghost Pines (2009). Described as “ripe and full with sweet oak – it is well-balanced with the taste of tropical fruits and freshly buttered toast.” It’s a little buttery with just the right touch of oak and goes great with seafood and salads. It’s on sale at Nob Hill for $13.99 until the end of August.

From Solis Winery, 3920 Hecker Pass Highway, I recommend the Vino Roseo di Sangiovese 2009 – slightly sweet but with a crisp finish and a gorgeous salmon color. With flavors of passionfruit and apricot, it is perfect with sushi and other Asian food. Owners and winemakers, Michael and Vic Vanni say, “Even the experienced wine taster will love this rose!” Ahh, the taste of summer for only $20 – or only $10 if you take advantage of the 50 percent discount (coupon at soliswinery.com) on your first purchase of any of their award winning wine.

My husband and I, along with friends, have had memorable times at Solis Winery; we’ve bottled some delightful wine and also had a barbecue on the deck, enjoying the natural beauty of the vineyard, listening and dancing to a steel-drum band. Check out www.soliswinery.com for all the upcoming fun: Cigars under the Stars on Aug. 27 and the Syrah and Sausages event over Labor Day weekend.

I hope you enjoy my recommendations and more importantly, I hope you join my circle of friends and write in to share your favorite, easy-drinking wines, too.

Cheers!

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Wine munchie of the week

Pop a bowl of popcorn. Melt 1/2 cube of butter in a small pan and add 1 teaspoon of white truffle oil (found at Nob Hill). Drizzle over the popcorn and toss. Sprinkle with sea salt if desired. This is so good that you should probably make a double batch!

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