I was thinking of calling this 10 for $10 or something catchy like that, but when I tried to create a wine list that I would drink – all costing less than an Alexander Hamilton- it became apparent that the list would be longer than ten wines. Shoot, I was up to six and still in France! So instead of writing something that reads like a chart in an eye doctor’s office, I thought maybe I could offer my humble suggestions on a bunch of different types, something for everyone. This is just food for thought, but the holidays are just around the corner, and you will need some wines for entertaining.
First, a bit of sage advice when serving wine to friends: if you put out your expensive wines, your friends will drink them all. But if you put out decent inexpensive wines, your friends will still drink them all. Either way you will end up wineless, but why end up penniless too?
Good wine is like good art; don’t ask me to describe it! I know it when I have it in my glass, but my palate is much more in tune than my prose.
Good wine is place. When you cut out all the static, Mother Nature decides what good wine is. She provides sunshine, rain, soil type, aspect, exposure and grape variety. Some places are just better than others for growing wine grapes, so the real question for a ‘wine maker’ is… which grape? The land always knows best. It really transcends the human element. A wine does not have to be expensive or highly rated to be great. It needs to be from ‘someplace.’ And that place needs to have a story to tell. Think about New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for a second. Not expensive, but they have created for themselves a niche with their particular style of Sauvignon, unique to them. Chianti is another example; you can grow Sangiovese wherever you like, but Chianti is Chianti and nothing else is like it, and I like it that way!
So here are a few wines, all at $10 or less, that you might consider this holiday season. You will be serving your guests wine out of a bottle, a regular sized bottle and not a box or a gallon jug. They will be true to their place and not just wine for wine’s sake. Of course, my taste comes into play here, so feel free to disagree or even cuss at me under your breath – just please, don’t force me to drink wines with no sense of place.
Shayne Hebert, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine & spirits supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwineShayne