Wine Finds

It’s way past time for another installment of Wine Finds, where I tell you about a favorite bottle of wine that costs less than $10. I’m not a wine expert, nor have I ever taken a wine course or even attended many tastings, but I do drink a fair amount of wine. And I know what I like.

This month’s offering is a humble Merlot. I am of the opinion that a certain overhyped, overrated film greatly tarnished this old standby’s reputation. And I think it was unwarranted. The biggest sin of Merlot seems to be that it is a blend of grapes. Since I’m a big believer in stews, mutts, potlucks, and mixed-race presidents, purity doesn’t hold a lot of sway for me.

So if you still enjoy a nice Merlot on occasion, this is one of the best I’ve found for the price. It’s from a California vineyard called Bogle, which also offers a very nice Old Vine Zinfandel. I’ll have to check the price on that one. This Merlot generally sells for either $7.99 or $8.99 at either Trader Joe’s or World Market. I would love to hear from out-of-staters about whether you can find this, and if you can buy it for anywhere near that price.
One of the things I enjoy about Merlot is its versatility. It’s great to sip on its own, with appetizers (especially cheese and crackers), or with a simple meal. This Bogle is light and not too sweet, and has a variety and intensity of flavor. According to K & L Wine Merchants, “the deep cherry fruit hits both the nose and the palate upon the first sip, followed by soft hints of summer anise. Touches of pipe tobacco and spicy oak lend weight to the finish.” So there you go: a nice variety and blend of tastes.
Let me know if you try this wine or if you have any favorites I should be reviewing. I’m keeping an eye out for some of your earlier suggestions and plan on posting a reader recommendation soon. Also, do you switch from red to white in the summer? We generally drink a lot more white in the summer than we do in the winter, but I still crave my glass of red wine, especially with pizza or pasta. Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the Comments section. And click here if you want to check out previous installments of Wine Finds.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Oooh, I have been waiting for another frugal wine post. BTW, Blackstone 2008 (I believe) has a very nice Merlot for $9. I am pretty sure the Bogel Merlot is around the same price point in Boston. Also, Bogel Petite Syrah is nice if that is your type of wine – but it breaks the bank at $12 IIRC.

    Also relevant for this blog is a wine called Sustainable white and red from CA. At $9.99 each – they are on the cusp of not being a frugal wine, but they get extra points for being "green". I can't remember what that means, but it probably says on the bottle. I really liked both of them, so give them a try.

    Kris in JP

  2. Anonymous says

    My husband and I drink a fair amount of wine and we are not wine snobs. We both like Little Penguin merlot and shiraz. Our local wine shop sells a magnum for $8.99. We also like Mondavi merlot that's around the same price. A tip I picked up from a show by Oz Clark is to buy the cheaper brands of well known wine houses. They are generally very similar to their higher priced cousins. Lindeman's, Yellow Tail, and Turning Leaf also do lovely merlot's and shiraz's- you shouldn't pay more than $10 for a 1.5l bottle of these. My wine shop sells Bogle for $8.95 but that's for a 750ml bottle not a 1.5l, so to me that's too expensive unless it's an anniversary or some other special event. There are too many lovely wines priced inexpensively to warrant spending more. We lived in France for awhile and having spent 3 euros on gorgeous Cotes du Rhone and Minervois, etc (the same brands I've seen in my local store for $40 and up), I can't imagine now spending a lot on a bottle of wine.

  3. Betsy Talbot says

    Bogle is a frequent purchase at my house, and we don't discriminate against merlot. We can usually get it for under $10 in Seattle.

    One we like a lot is a simple red wine called Menage a Trois. We can sometimes get it for as low as $6.99 with store discounts, but it is usually in the $8.99-9.99 range. We call it our "house wine" because it is the one we buy most frequently. For the price, it is a pretty good bottle.

    Thanks for the wine finds posts – I really do like them, and I'm still on the lookout for the white wine you talked about a few weeks ago!

  4. Angela says

    Kris- I've seen Blackstone, but I don't think I've tried it, so I'll put it on my list. Also, great tip about the sustainable wine- thanks! It might be organic. I've only had organic wine a couple of times, and I can tell it's healthier because you don't get any fuzziness or headache the following day.

    Anonymous- I agree about buying a cheaper offering from a well-known wine house. Hess is one of our favorites. I've never heard of little penguin- I'll look out for it! I've never lived in France, but I've been there and I agree it's hard to pay too much for wine when you're used to good wine. I feel that way in California- maybe since it's the first wine I drank much of, my absolute favorite is still a good California Cabernet Sauvignon. You can get a great bottle for $10, and if you splurge and spend $15 or $20- man, that's a great bottle of wine. Thanks for your suggestions- I'm going to write them all down.

    Betsy- yes, you must try our favorite white- the Geyser Peak. It's not really quite budget- it's $8 or $9, but still such good wine for the price. I'm going to find another white from the reader comments for my next wine finds post.

  5. Marylyn says

    This may not be relevant, but I was wondering last night: Whatever happened to "burgundy" wine? When I was 16 and 17, some older friends used to take me to a bring-your-own coffeehouse, and we always had red "burgundy" wine. I never see it now. Can't remember what it tasted like. I do remember what "port" tasted like, because it made me sick. All of the above can be on the frugal list, because I didn't pay a thing, ha ha.

  6. Angela says

    Marylyn- That's true- I don't think I've seen "burgundy" for a long time! It may be a blend, possibly from France. Cheap table wine. I'll look into it.

    Port is sweet, an after dinner wine, more like a dessert wine. Tiny sips only- no chugging!

  7. Michele says

    I have to agree with Betsy about the Menage a Trois wines. I have had both their red and lighter red (not rose', but not a red either) wines and love them both. One of our local Itallian restaurants highlites this wine which is where I first tried it. Now they are a staple in my cabinet.
    The name comes from the fact that the wine is actually a mix of three differnet types of wines. You should check them out!

  8. Angela says

    Michele- Oh, I forgot to respond to that- I will definitely try the Menage a Trois- I've seen it at World Market. In fact, I think it was on special the last time I was there. I'll have to run back!
    I'm curious about the "lighter red" for summer- rose is a little too sweet for my taste…
    And being a mix of three wines, it does sound perfect for me!

  9. janetex says

    The burgundy of your youth was probably a blend of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah grapes from California. American wineries now call their everyday red wine simply "red wine" or they make up a proprietary name for it. American wineries are no longer allowed to label their wine "burgundy" or "chablis" or Champagne" because these are names for French wines made in a specific region in France from specific grapes.

  10. calimama @ compactbydesign says

    I agree with the Bogle recomendation. I would offer up Les Caves Joseph Bordeaux. It is a very reasonable bordeaux we get at Trader Joe's. They even have it in a white bordeaux, which I haven't tried because my husband doesn't like white wine. :( I too enjoy a white in the summer. Not at home though!

    I have been waiting months to sit end enjoy a bottle of wine at home. Finally last week I got my chance. Husband had picked up a bottle of Yellow Tail at TJ's and we popped it for dinner. Now YT is not a premier wine but it will stand in nicely for an easy table wine. Imagine my total despair when we tasted it and knew immediately it was off! Oh the tragedy! My husband refuses to throw away wine so he drank his share. I could not. Even after such a dry spell. So I'm still waiting to enjoy some wine!

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