I don’t believe I am a wine snob. Why? For one, my bank account. I can’t afford to be a snob. I, like most consumers, are most comfortable in that $ 15 to $ 25 price range.
The second reason is that my knowledge of wine stems from my love for wine and is, like more wine writers than you might be aware of, primarily self-taught. Self-taught as in wine books I’ve read, formal and informal tastings and classes I’ve attended.
And I listen…really listen. Not just to the professionals, but to friends and family who love wine and to other people purchasing wine. And lastly, I never tell someone their palate of wine preferences are “wrong.”
But recently I found out that my wine knowledge, however it may pale to a sommelier, still prejudices me to some wines. I find if I’m not familiar with a wine in a restaurant, bar, or store I’ll ask, “Where is it from?” I’ll expect a good Sauvignon Blanc to be from New Zealand, a good Pinot Grigio, Italy; Malbec, Argentina; Cabernet Sauvignon, California, and so on.
Expressions of grape differ due to soil, climate and year, or as the French say, “terroir.” Different, however, does not mean bad. Here are some interesting examples.
Pinot Grigio: Italy or…Noble Vines 2015 152 Pinot Grigio
This California Pinot Grigio is much richer, with a rounder mouth feel than the Italian options I’ve experienced. While both the Italian and California Pinot Grigios are dry with good fruit, I found the Noble Vines wine to be more complex and interesting.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much info on how this wine was made on its site. There is, however, an option on their website to ask a question. So, I asked. It took just under a week for their response.
I wondered why I was feeling a richer mouth feel, and tasting what most definitely was oak. Their response was that their winemaking team did blend 2% to 3% of Chardonnay to provide texture on the mid-palate.
And, the Chardonnay was aged in oak for three to six months. It’s interesting how a small amount of another wine can tweak a wine in such a positive way.
Keep in mind, depending on the country of origin, wines can market as a single varietal and do not have to list the smaller amounts of wines from other grapes they might add. In the United States, wines may be listed as a single varietal if 75% of one grape is used.
I consider myself neither a Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay drinker, but I could drink this wine all day long. And at just under $ 15, I could easily afford to.
Chenin Blanc: France or…Pamanoke’s Chenin blanc
This Long Island wine — yes, that’s right, grown and crafted a mere car ride away — has been written up numerous times as the best Chenin Blanc outside of France.
I’m spoiled. I live on Long Island, have been to this wonderful vineyard and sampled this wine long before the rest of the world knew about it. You don’t have to live on Long Island to buy it; it’s available in city stores. It comes in at most stores between $ 22 and $ 26 dollars.
Sauvignon blanc: New Zealand or…Tom Gore 2015 Sauvignon blanc
This Sauvignon blanc is softer, richer, has less grapefruit and more tangerine than its New Zealand counterparts. It still retains excellent structure without the overly aggressive citrus sometimes found in the New Zealand options.
At just under $ 15 it’s worth it to give a try if you want to add some variety to your usual Sauvignon blanc fix
Sparkling wine: Champagne or…Ruffino Rose Sparkling Wine
If I’m in the mood for a sparkler I usually head straight to the French offerings. I was surprised to find this fun, pretty-in-pink bubbly from Italy.
It is absolutely delicious. Scrumptious with plenty of juicy red fruit. Great structure. Fresh and somewhat dry, but not so dry that the flavors are weak. Really a perfect, pink sparkler, and I find those extremely hard to find. This crowd pleaser comes in at just $ 14.99.
Rosé: Cotes de Provence, or is there another way?
Rosé is probably the wine I will admit to being the most picky about. At one point, I would not only limit myself to rosé wines from the Cotes de Provence region, but I would also only drink those that were bottled in the classic Provencal Wine bottle.
Gosh, that really is snobby. In my weak defense, rosé can run the gamut between excellent quality, high-end products and cheap, pink, sugar water. I wanted something on the shelf that clearly spoke of fine wine making.
Kim Crawford 2015 Rosé
Moving on, I recently had the chance to sample the Kim Crawford 2015 Rosé from New Zealand. Wow. Okay, so this is a screw-top — and this needs a whole other column — but a screw-top does not mean cheap or inferior wine. You’ll have to trust me on that for now, or Google it and read about wine closures.
This is a yummy, aromatic wine. It retails at just under $ 20. It is a pink that is perhaps just a bit darker than the salmon pink of the Cote de Provence wines. Plenty of strawberry and watermelon on the nose and the palate. A soft, round bodied wine with a dry mouth-watering finish. While this rosé goes down easily, it is complex and structured enough that you will find yourself savoring every sip.
Palmer Vineyards Sunrise Sunset
This semi-dry rosé was my breakthrough rosé in understanding that not all rosé need to be bone dry to be wonderfully drinkable.
Palmer is another Long Island vineyard I was visiting with my mom and my sister and I did a tasting. While not sweet, this semi-dry rosé has notes of strawberry and watermelon, as expected, and some spice — which is unexpected, but very welcome.
Good body and structure make this $ 10 rosé a complete shock. It is magical sipping on Palmer’s beautiful porch overlooking the vineyard, but the taste held up equally well in front of my TV at home. The view, maybe not so much
Linda Delmonico Prussen is a Long Island-based award-winning journalist passionate about all things wine.