Sisters and co-owners of West Hollywood wine shop Venokado, Susan Brink O'Flaherty and Molly Brink, are big fans of affordable California wines. The wines tend to be fuller bodied or "new world" in style with bold spice, ripe fruits and high alcohol levels, which is probably why they are so loved by the masses. Below, they share 6 must-try picks that are delightful for the taste buds and easy on the wallet.
2010 Jackhammer Chardonnay, Santa Lucia, Calif. $9.95
This 100 percent Chardonnay is full and round with pear, white peaches, lime pulp and Nilla Wafers. We chose this for the Nilla Wafers --just kidding. We love how it makes our mouths water after each sip and it's flirtatious. It pairs well with some grilled shrimp or any white fish.
2011 Dancing Coyote Pinot Grigio, Lodi, Calif. $11.99
This100 percent Pinot Grigio iscrisp, lightly floral, bright and friendly. We chose this for its "girl next door" quality and its ability to be consumed throughout the day! It’s easy to drink (too easy?) with happiness on the finish.
2012 Banyan Gewurztraminer, Monterey County, Calif. $12
We chose this one because it is a great example of a spicy food friendly wine with its floral nose (do I dab it on my neck or drink it?) and lychee. Plus it is a grape that many people shy away from, mostly due to the pronunciation and that it smells sweet. It is in fact a dry wine, and it’s absolutely delicious with Thai food.
2010 Lucinda and Millie Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County, Calif. $11.99
We chose this 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon for many reasons; one is that it is organic, so you feel good drinking it. It is clean and simple with notes of black fruit, cedar and earth -- a perfect picnic wine! It is not as full-bodied as many California Cabernets, but we think it's perfectly charming.
2010 Dexter Lake Red Blend, Calif. $15
This blend of 40 percent Petit Sirah, 40 percent Petit Verdot, 20 percent Tempranillo and a dash of Touriga Nacional is fun in the glass! Full-bodied, juicy and fruity, and a little spicy with flavors of plums, black cherries, cinnamon candies and blackberries.
2010 Daou Vineyards "The Pessimist" Paso Robles, Calif. $11
We chose this 95 percent cabernet and 5 percent syrah blend because of its value. This is the second label for Daou, with their first label selling at three times the price. They only use the free run juice for their first label, which means there are a lot of grapes left over just waiting to be crushed. Enter The Pessimist. With flavors of blackberries, dark cocoa powder, and baking spices, there is nothing but optimism with this wine!