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Five Dependable Whites You Can Find (Most) Anywhere

February 23, 2015 By Jon Thorsen

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As a wine consumer I love to read about others experiences with wine, but one of the most frustrating things is when you read about a great wine that you simply cannot find. With over 100,000 different wines made every year and at best only a few thousand of those making it on to your local stores' shelves, searching down a specific wine can be exasperating. So today I've culled through some of my very favorite picks under $15 to come up with five of our favorite whites that should be available to just about everyone.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier

This blend of 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Viognier is a staple at retailers like Trader Joe's and Costco. Pine Ridge, which is known for their pricey Napa Valley Cabernet sure knows how to make a cheap white wine. Pleasant aromas of grapefruit, melon, honeysuckle and pear lead into a palate bursting with juicy succulent fruit, a fabulous lively acidity and even a nice mineral streak. Not only is this a fantastic summertime sipper but it's also a great pairing for spicy Asian food. Available for as low as $10.

Robert Mondavi Winery Napa Valley Fumé Blanc

The name Fumé Blanc was created by Robert Mondavi in the late 1960s in an effort to differentiate his new style of dry Sauvignon Blanc from the sweet version that was popular at the time. This bottle also adds in 6% Semillon and features pleasant aromas of lime, tropical fruit, melon and some light fennel spice notes. The wine tastes excellent with lots of lemongrass, more tropical fruit (guava and pineapple primarily), orange zest and lime wrapped up in a very smooth texture. The wine also showcases a wonderful racy acidity. It ends with lingering citrus and guava notes and even has a bit of earthy minerality on the long finish. Whatever you call it, it's plenty good!

Indaba Chenin Blanc

This 100% Chenin Blanc from the Western Cape of South Africa can be had for as little as $7. It presents with pleasant and even complex aromas of lime, melon, guava and other tropical fruit plus a little granny smith apple. Tasting this medium-bodied wine reveals a thick and luscious mouthfeel with crisp and clean flavors of zesty citrus and melon, nice minerality and even a bit of spice. The crisp and clean theme continues on the lingering finish. This is a fantastic wine and a steal at only $7. Stock up!

Columbia Crest H3 Horse Heaven Hills Chardonnay

75% of this wine was fermented in a combination of new and used French and American oak and underwent malolactic fermentation. The other 25% was fermented in stainless steel and did not undergo malolactic fermentation. The result is a wine with lots of fruit and a steely minerality that quickly gives way to toasty, oaky, spicy notes that turn a bit buttery on the finish. This is a rich, medium to full-bodied wine that offers a great mix of the unoaked and buttery styles in one wine. It ends with very long lasting butter, tobacco and vanilla notes. This is a great price for a wine of this quality especially when you figure in the cost of those barrels used for 75% of the wine!

Frisk Prickly Riesling

This fabulously flavorful and fizzy blend of 89% Riesling and 11% Muscat Gordo from Victoria, Australia can be had widely for $10 or less. It begins with aromas of guava, citrus, pear, and floral notes. Tasting the wine shows mango, pear and peach flavors that combine into just a really nice level of sweetness. The sweet fruit continues on the medium long finish. The high acidity, good sweetness and light bubbles will make this a great match for lots of different foods including spicy Asian dishes. Wines in a similar style that also got strong consideration for this spot were the Moscato Allegro and the Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato.

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Wine Pairing Tips

Source: Wine Folly

Sommeliers use opposing taste profiles such as sweet and sour all the time to create perfect food and wine pairings. Follow the simple set of guidelines below to make the best wine and food pairings at home.

Champion the Wine

The number one guideline is to bring out the best characteristics of a wine. A high tannin red wine will taste like sweet cherries when paired with the right dish. Focus on the characteristics that you want to champion and make sure that the wine will shine instead of fighting against the food.

Bitter + Bitter = Bad

Since our tastebuds are very sensitive to bitterness, it's important to pay special attention to not pair bitter food and high tannin wine. Green Beans with Cabernet Sauvignon will multiply bitter tastes. If you want to pair a high tannin wine, look to foods with fat, umami and salt for balance.

Wine Should be Sweeter

As a general rule, make sure that the wine is sweeter than the food and you will have a successful wine pairing. If the wine is less sweet than the food it's matched with, it will tend to taste bitter and tart. This is why Port wine is perfect with dessert.

Wine Should be More Tart

A wine should have higher acidity than the food it's matched with otherwise it will taste flabby. For instance, a salad with vinaigrette is better with an extra brut Champagne than a buttery Chardonnay.

Improve an Earthy Wine

Ever hear that Old World Wine is better with food? On their own, Old World wines can be very earthy and tart. However, when you pair an earthy wine with something even more earthy like mushroom stroganoff, then the wine tastes more fruity.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thinking Inside the Box


IT’S the epitome of déclassé, the vinous equivalent of trailer trash, the wine snob’s worst nightmare. No, I don’t mean the screw cap. I’m talking about boxed wine.

Tasting Report

Domaine le Garrigon, $39, ***

Côtes-du-Rhône 2010, 3 liters

Aromas of red fruit and herbs, fresh and lightly tannic, lingering flavors of fruit and minerals. (Wineberry America, New York)

From the Tank Côtes-du-Rhône, $37, ** ½

Estézargues 2009, 3 liters

Fresh, bright and balanced, with tangy flavors of red fruit. (Jenny & François, New York)

Dominio IV Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, $90, ** ½

Love Lies Bleeding 2009, 3 liters

Rich cinnamon-scented fruit with clear pinot noir identity, but a touch too much oak flavor.

Cantina Valpantena Veronese, $27, ** ½

Torre del Falasco I.G.T. Garganega 2010, 3 liters

Lively with mellow flavors of nuts and minerals. (Omniwines, Flushing, N.Y.)

Château Moulin de la Roquille, $39, ** ½

Francs Côtes de Bordeaux 2009, 3 liters

Dark fruit flavors with a pleasant herbal edge and a light rasp of tannins. (Wineberry America)

Black Box New Zealand, $22, ** ½

Sauvignon Blanc 2010, 3 liters

With flavors of peaches and apricots, it doesn't quite taste like sauvignon blanc, but fresh, balanced and pleasing. (Black Box Wines, Madera, Calif.)

La Petite Frog Coteaux du Languedoc, $30, **

Picpoul de Pinet 2010, 3 liters

Dry and refreshing with flavors of nuts, citrus and herbs. (Kysèla Pere et Fils, Winchester, Va.)

Baronne du Chatelard, $48, **

Bourgogne Blanc 2010, 3 liters

Low-key and somewhat neutral with simple flavors of apples and herbs. (Wineberry America)

Würtz Rheinhessen Riesling, $27, **

2010, 3 liters

Light citrus, herbal and floral aromas; serve well chilled. (Domaine Select, New York)

Osborne Spain Seven Octavin NV, $20, **

3 liters

Straightforward and fruity red with a suggestion of sweetness. (Underdog Wine Merchants, Ripon, Calif.)

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