These are the wines that I refer to as my “Wednesday Nite Pizza Pours”. Actually, in this day and age, you can most likely experience good technology, fun flavors and reasonable price, all at the same time. What you will not get is a transformative experience. After all, it is Wednesday nite, and it is an unassuming pizza fresh out of the box paired with simple wines.
In Spain the grape is called Garnacha and it winds up fashionably featured on labels and in blends. It used to be relegated to the anonymous carafe on your table in a local Spanish restaurant. It all changed with Evodia ($8.99), an ancient vine discovery that upped the game and flavors of the grape. Older vines simply translate to more complexity. The search for old vines in Spain continues.
The rest of Spain jumped onto their enthusiastic revival of a neglected grape. Affordable quaffing grenache are readily available.
Monte Ducay, Carinena, $6.99. A high-quality Co-op that wraps its bottles in bright yellow paper. More complexity than you would expect for the money. Bodegas San Valero is famous as a leader in technical modernization. One of the first co-ops to send the kids to winemaking schools in the 40’s and 50’s.
Mariscal El Miracle Old Vine Garnacha Tintorera, Valencia, $6.99. “Old vine” is the operative word. Juicy and delicious. The beauty of the grape is that it tastes of both strawberries, raspberries and a little leather. Do look at the alcohol content on labels as grenache can ripen up to a whooping 16% alcohol. Just eat more pizza and hydrate.
Grenache by another name: Cotes du Rhone
There are tons of pizza worthy Rhone wines out there. Rhone’s are plentiful and reasonable. Guigal. Chapoutier and Perrin are big names in quality basic Rhone, but not for big bucks.
Andre Brunel Rhone, $8.00. Juicy, luscious, hint of blackberry, they are built for the short run. Drink them fresh and young.
Pepperwood Pinot Noir, Chile, $6.99. Usually, it is not a great idea to look for pinot noir for under ten dollars. This is an excellent case in point. It washes down red sauce, if that is your goal.
Tisdale Pinot Noir, California, $5.00. If you are fishing on the bottom shelf, this is a well-made, reasonable find. Tastes like a pinot with a bit of cabernet splash. Back label: Modesto is the home of Ernest and Julio Gallo, the world’s largest wine producer. Lots of their wines out there.
Mark West Pinot Noir, California, $10.00. We were staring at being stranded in New Orleans, sleeping in an airport chair, with all flights to Newark recently canceled. My wife, Judy, got us a flight to Atlanta. To airport celebrate we had lunch at an over priced gate 20 restaurant. The two glasses of Mark West Pinot Noir at $17.50 each were divine. Later in the week at home we had a bottle with homemade fresh tuna poke. The wine was not so much. Wine is as much about the occasion as the quality.
Villa Cerena, Montepulciano d ‘Abruzzo, $5.00-7.00. Rich, slurpy, fatness. It can be an intense, cuts through the sauce red, or a splash in the glass. The Cerena is a very drinkable, enjoyable version. Mascarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo at $10.00 is a good pizza wine find. More body than the Cerena. A lovely grape in all areas of the price spectrum.
A topping of sweet peppers and onions are ideal to pair with Oyster Bay New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, $10.00-12.00. The lush grapefruit overtones of the New Zealand sauvignon blanc washes up against the sweetness of the pizza. A Bordeaux Blanc at $10.00 has a soothing effect and calms down the deliciousness on top of the pizza. A good example is Ch. Seguin at $8.00-9.00.
Vegan with crushed cashew nuts instead of cheese. Cocobon Red Blend, California, $7.00. A Nutella like set of flavors. Soft, plumy, with a hint of toffee and cocoa.
There is a new world out there called “The Wine Club”. They come in all prices and shapes. Wineries, wine pros and wine wannabies all participate in this interactive sport. I bring this up because now, more than ever there are new uniformed people getting “into” wine. A classic example is a bottle given to me recently by a knowledgeable friend. He purchased a Karen Birmingham Petite Syrah Reserve Selection, Lodi. Calif. 2017. It was a wine club purchased wine and while well made it tasted like it should be drunk from a sippie cup at a kid’s soccer match. Price? A monthly funding to an emerging wine maker who supplies you with exclusive insider wines at no risk. WOW. Of course, they algorithm your taste buds with orders. Just push the button marked “Sign me up”. Bring your own pizza or have it delivered via drone to the game, your choice.
The problem with cheapie wines is that hopefully you get what you pay for. You should be looking for a wine to wash down your pizza. Want a transcendent experience- open your wallet a little wider.
There is a recent book by Jon Bonne The New Wine Rules that sums it all up.
“First, most wine is very well made-far better than it was twenty-five years ago.”
“Most of all, one key rule: speak up as soon as you think something’s wrong. The customer who tries to bring back or send back a half-finished bottle is the customer who doesn’t get welcomed back”.
(EDITORS NOTE: Layne is a professional in the wine business with over 30 years of experience. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for talks and consulting. His website is https://winemaniacs.wordpress.com/)
He will be doing wine events at Port City Blue 650A Congress St. “Layne’s Wine Gig” is a talk and tasting (four pours $12.00) and is a rollicking standup. It is the 2nd Friday of every month from 4:30-5:30. Call them at 774-4111 for info.).