Whether you’re celebrating your tax return or crying the blues because you owe Uncle Sam, you can still drink well and keep cash in your wallet. Here are some money-saving strategies to cut your wine bill in half while still keeping the quality quotient high.
$30 to $15 range
For those of you used to paying $25-$30 for delicious vino, you can find great wines in the $12-$15 price range by following these simple steps:
Strategy:Love a winery but can’t afford its top-tier bottling on a regular basis? Uncork other — less expensive — labels from the same producer. Or, if you’re a fan of a winery’s red wines, give their whites a try.
- 2007 Kendall-Jackson Vineyard Estates, “Camelot Highlands” Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, California ($30):A beautifully balanced white with crisp, lush fruit notes.
- 2007 Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay, California ($14): An amazing value. This wine showcases complexity and brightness.
- 2001 Montecillo Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain ($25): From the hands of winemaking legend Maria Martinez-Sierra comes this elegant, aged red made with Tempranillo.
- 2005 Montecillo Crianza, Rioja, Spain ($12): With less time aging in barrel and in the cellar, a Crianza style is fruity, spicy and fresh.
- 2008 Justin Sauvignon Blanc, Paso Robles, California ($15): A star in the Paso Robles area of California, Justin crafts stunning reds. Don’t miss this sassy, stylish white, though.
$20 to $10 range
If last year you casually coughed up $20 for weekday sipping, you might want to think about slicing that price tag in half.
Strategy:Branch out and be adventurous. Explore other varieties you may not usually drink and try some of the “fun” brands that represent serious fun.
- 2007 XYZin Zinfandel “10 Year Old Vines,” California ($16): Packed with wild berry fruit notes and a powerfully peppery kick, this delicious Zin is perfect for barbecue and beef.
- 2007 Twisted Zinfandel, California ($10 magnum): When the party calls, this is the wine to pour. A magnum equals two bottles and this easy-drinking red is a crowd pleaser.
- 2007 Promiscuous, California ($10): In the mood for a little mischief? Grab a bottle of this well-balanced red blend and enjoy.
- 2007 Virgin Vines Chardonnay, California ($10): A juicy, sippable white that makes you feel good.
Around $10 and under
During these challenging economic times, people aren’t drinking less, just more cheaply. In the $10 and under category, you can find some terrific wines.
Strategy:Head south. Great values hail from Chile and Argentina, where you can look for signature varieties like Carmenere, Malbec and Torrontes.
- 2007 Terra Andina “Reserva” Carmenere, Chile ($10-$12): A brand to buy — Terra Andina produces wines that showcase the best of Chile at prices that please. This spicy, smooth sipper is a winner.
- 2008 Trapiche Malbec, Argentina ($6-$8): One of my favorite brands from Argentina, Trapiche makes world-class wines in all price ranges. Their entry-level varietal series is one of the top values on store shelves. Stock up by the case.
Strategy: Give store brands a try. Whether it’s your local grocery store or wine retailer, many shops are offering a “house” brand that serves up super-value.
- Sherry Lehmann “Maison Rouge,” France ($6): Sherry-Lehmann, located in New York City, ranks among America’s best wine retailers and their quaffable red is the consummate summer sipper.
Wine consultant Leslie Sbrocco is the author of “The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide.”