I’m sure most of you have figured out that Wine Line is not written for the 1-percenters. I doubt any of the wealthy elite read my column or have purchased any of my recommendations. I don’t care. There are plenty of terrific wines under $20. The belief that “if it’s expensive, it must be good” just doesn’t ring true. Tasting wines blind (no, not with a blindfold) is the best way to determine what wines you like.
I invited a few experienced wine-loving friends over to taste a box pinot grigio against a $7 bottle of the same variety. Both were poured from decanters. Two-thirds favored the box wine (bottle price $4). When asked to guess which one was the box wine, they all picked the $7 bottle. In round two, I poured two pinot noirs and asked them to pick their favorite. All agreed that wine No. 2 was better and all voted that it had to be the bottled pinot. But this time, both were box wines. Wine No. 1 was a gold medal-winning box wine (5) and No. 2 was a new box wine called Andegavia ($17.50). I’ve said that most box wines (daily wines) don’t require much deep thinking or serious analysis, but this Andegavia certainly offers much more complexity.
Andegavia works with one of Sonoma and Napa Valleys’ top winemaking teams, producing quality wine ranging from $68-$78 per 3-liter (4 bottles) cask. The wines available are a Napa Valley Red Blend (2011), a Napa Valley Chardonnay (2012), a Russian River Pinot Noir (2012) and a Nadalini Red Blend. Upcoming releases will include a Rhone-style dry Rose (yum) and an Italian-style Pinot Grigio. All wines are sold online and have a shipping fee of $10. If you join the wine club, you get a 10 percent discount and free shipping. All the tasters agreed that the pinot noir was exceptional and at $17.50, a good value. You can go to www.andegavia.com. for more information
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Vivino, the No. 1 wine app, is now available in five additional languages: French, Italian, Spanish, German and Portuguese. Vivino has grown to more than 4 million users who have scanned more than 50 million bottles of wine. It is easy to use and free at the App Store.
Trader Joe shoppers who are hooked on 2-and-a-half-buck-Chuck, why not spend a few bucks and give the Moon series wines a try? Purple Moon (merlot), Bay Moon (sauvignon blanc), Velvet Moon (cabernet), Honey Moon (viognier), Venetian Moon (pinot grigio) and Old Moon (old vine zinfandel) all won gold medals at a recent tasting and are terrific values. Have some fun. Blind taste them with the Chuck and see if they’re worth it. Drink well, cheers!