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Category Archives: Wine news

Winebits 367: Cheap wine edition

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aldi cheap wineCheap wine news from around the Internet in honor of the 2015 $10 Hall of Fame:

Cheaper than water: Think wine is cheap in the U.S. or Britain? How about the price in Australia, where some wine costs less than a bottle of water? The BBC reports that a 12-ounce bottle of water costs A$2.50 (US$2.83), while a bottle of red, twice as big, costs as little as A$1 (US$.81). Some of this is the high price of bottled water Down Under; a 16.9-ounce bottle costs less than $2 in the U.S. But, as the story notes, the price has more to do with what the country’s experts are calling the “dire” state of the Aussie wine business: an expensive Australian dollar, steadily falling international demand, and a glut of wine in the domestic market. In other words, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong — for producers, anyway. For consumers, depressed prices in Australian help keep prices down elsewhere.

Miracle machine? Some people still don’t believe that cheap wine is suitable for drinking, and that it tastes like it did 20 years ago — harsh, bitter, and acidic. This is apparently why the Sonic Decanter raised $139,000 on Kickstarter, $50,000 more than its goal. The gadget is supposed age cheap wine to “bring out aromas not normally present in young, unaged wines,” soften tannins, and enhance flavors. The catch is that almost all cheap wine isn’t made to be aged, doesn’t have any extra aromas to bring out, and already has soft tannins and enhanced fruit flavors. That formula is the reason for being for most grocery store merlot. And this doesn’t take into account the $249 cost, which not only translates into two cases of $10 wine, but into four bottles of very nice white Burgundy, which I’ll take over a gadget any time.

Aldi wine: The Aldi supermarket chain’s plans for U.S. expansion — 50 percent more stores by 2018 — is welcome news for anyone who drinks cheap wine, given the company’s skill at selling quality labels for very little money. I’ve written about it on the blog quite a bit, and I’m not the only who is impressed. Max Allen, writing in The Australian, discusses the chain’s success in his country, noting that the wines it sells more than hold their own against other Australian wines, and do so for significantly less money. In fact, he uses the words “crazy cheap.”

Winebits 360: New Year’s wine

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New Year's wineNew Year’s wine advice and news from around the Internet, though not everyone is boycotting Champagne:

Red wine, too: Dave McIntyre at the Washington Post offers bubbly to drink, as well as still wine. And Dave made one of the best wine videos I’ve ever seen — professional, informative, and to the point, with sparkling wine pointers. It’s amazing what you can do if the people making the video know what they’re doing. I’m jealous, too, given how much effort I’ve put into videos. It’s at the bottom of this post.

• Bring on the experts: The IntoWine website offers seven suggestions, including two cavas (neither of which I know), a cremant, and a Prosecco. Most are  reasonably priced, and one expert calls out Champagne in a way that not even I’ve done, labeling the most popular brands “mass-produced grocery store Champagne.”

Watching the budget: Laurie Daniel at the San Jose Mercury News has 12 wines for the New Year costing $30 or less, all from the United States. This is as good a rundown of California sparkling wine as you’re going to find, and Laurie (who I’ve judged with) knows her stuff. How else to feel confident enough to recommend the $14 Michelle Brut Rose from Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle?

Winebits 365: Christmas wine edition

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Christmas wineChristmas wine advice and news from around the Internet:

Ripe and lively: Terrific Christmas wine advice from Susy Atkins at London’s Telegraph newspaper. “This year I’m seeking fresher, more vivacious styles of red for the big day. Fed up with the many heavy, tannic, even jammy wines out there (blame the more commercial producers in hot-climate areas), I favour a red with clean acidity and bright, lively, red-fruit flavours to cut through the richness of the whole feast.” Which is actually good advice for all year. And for those of you who worry about the differences between British and U.S. english, Atkins doesn’t use Happy Christmas or Father Christmas in the article.

What to get the boss? Food and Wine offers Christmas gift suggestions for everyone imaginable, from bosses to wine snobs to teachers. It’s clever, and if some of the wines will be hard to find or cost too much, there are some well-thought choices. The two sparklings, both French chenin blancs around $15, show how far bubbly has come from the days when all we had was poorly-made California “champagne” and the real stuff with its real stuff price tag.

Readily available: This list, from the well-regarded Fred Tasker, features wines that won’t be hard to find, including many for sale in grocery stores. And any list that includes the South African $10 Beach House sauvignon blanc gets high marks from the Wine Curmudgeon.

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