A friend read the manuscript for the cheap wine book and said he had a fairly big question: “Why aren’t there any wine recommendations?” Because, of course, all wine books have to have wine recommendations.
The Cassagnoles ($10, purchased, 12%) helps answer his question: It’s the quintessential cheap white wine – professionally made and interesting, yet simple enough to appeal to people who are scared of wine and who don’t want to spend a lot of money for something that they don’t know.
It’s produced in the wonderfully white grape and citrus style that defines Gascon white wine, and is made with grapes that don’t show up too many other places – one-half colombard, with ugni blanc and gros manseng filling out the blend. It’s fresh and bright and lively and the bottle is gone before you know it. Wine for weeknight dinners doesn’t get much better than this. That’s why it’s in the $10 Hall of Fame and should stay there for a long while.
But what happens if I recommend it in the book, and a reader can’t find it locally? Or buys an older vintage, which is worn out and off-putting? Or buys the wine one year when it isn’t well done, which is possible given the vagaries of the wine business and that the book probably won’t be updated every year with new recommendations. They’ll fire off an angry email.
That’s why the book is about the process of cheap wine – its history, why cheap wine is possible, what makes a quality cheap wine, and how to find one. Then the reader won’t be complaining. He or she will will be too busy drinking great cheap wine they found themselves, like the Cassagnoles. What more could I ask for?