Guest Author - Jim Fortune
I am always on the lookout for my next great bottle of wine. I can think of a few ways to find value wines. If you stop and think about it, you probably can too. I will give you my two favorites in a minute, but here are two that come to mind right away that you are probably already using.
You could develop a group of friends that you meet with on a regular basis for a wine tasting. Using this idea, you could form a monthly or bi-monthly wine tasting club. Four couples, bring two bottles each, to the tasting. Since you are looking for value wines, set a limit on the amount of money spent per bottle like $10, $15 or $20; whatever you think constitutes a value priced wine. Get as much info as you can about the wine and also food pairings that are suggested. Print this info along with where you bought it and the price of the wine on a sheet of paper so each couple gets a copy. Leave three or four inches at the bottom of the sheet so people can jot down tasting notes. You can learn a lot about the wine and make it a social event at the same time. If you save the information sheets, you can get quite a list after only a few months.
Another way is to ask people at work or where you worship. Tell them you are some having people over and want a wine suggestion of a wine they like under $XX.00. You would fill in the XX with the amount of money you want the wine suggestion to be priced - $10, $15, $20 or maybe $25. Again, the XX would depend on what you think constitutes a value wine.
Now I will let you in on how I make my selections, most of the time. I have mentioned before that I like to ask my wine retailer for her recommendations. This works out pretty well as I will let her know that I am looking for a white or red under $15 and she will give me a couple to choose from in my price range. I have not had very good luck asking the grocery clerk about wines as they usually know more about what yoghurt to buy than they do about wine. So finding a wine shop or at least finding a liquor or package store that has a broad selection of wines, you will most likely find someone there knowledgeable about wine.
The last way is a no brainer. Using your web browser, browse over to Wine Spectator and check out the right hand side of the main page. Just about in the middle of the page is a title that says, Free Wine Spectator Ratings. Below that it says, Daily Wine Picks. You get to choose "Under $15", "$15 to $30" or "Over $30".
I click the link for "Under $15". You can see a list of what the daily wine was going back several weeks. I have noticed that most of the wines fall between $10 and $15 however. If you are looking for another list of wine that are rated by the Wine Spectator and the prices fall $13 and lower, I would suggest going to a magazine or book shop like Borders or Barnes - Noble and walking over to the magazine section and looking for a copy of Wine Spectator. In every issue toward the back is a cardboard insert called, "Shopping List". If you buy the magazine, you can tear out the Shopping List and fold it to fit in your pocket.
The idea of the Shopping List is a list of wines that falls into one of four categories; Highly Recommended, Collectibles, Smart Buys and Best Values. The best wines in that particular issue are found on the Shopping List. Also, all of the wines on the list have a Wine Spectator rating. As I have said before, the Wine spectator rating that appears here is very subjective, but it gives you a guideline or a yard stick of what one person thinks of a particular wine.
The wines that are what I call value wines appear on the list in the category called Best Values. The wines in this section are generally under $13 per bottle. For example, in the January 31 - February 29, 2008 Shopping List, in the Best Values was Bodegas Esmeralda Malbec Mendoza Tilia 2006. I did not know that it was listed on the Best Values category when I wrote about Tilia in an article that appeared on March 22, Tilia 2006. I also did not know it had a rating of 88 when I recommended. However, when I wrote the article I did know that I liked the wine and thought it was something you should know about too. Also on that same list was Bogle Petite Sirah, another wine I wrote about recently.
Until next time, let me know what is on your mind, and how you are doing, O.K.?
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Jim Fortune - the Bella Online Wine Guy
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