For some reason I don't drink as much beer aboard in the wintertime. I still drink beer when I'm out because it's just more calorie- and cost-conscious. Whatever the reason, I've been on a run of trying new wines and enjoying the Wine for Normal People podcast to learn more about wine, winemaking, and pairing. I'm on a pretty tight budget so I can't have $20 "daily drinkers," but I have come to agree with WFNP's host Elizabeth that the sub-$10 bottles are blech. Well, I do have a couple of favs (like the Santola vinho verde from Portugal) that come in at $9.99. But those $6 and $8 bottles, they really taste like bad grape juice and have painful, sugary hangover written all over them if you actually manage to stomach the stuff.
So, here are some of the bottles I've been trying. One big hit, (pictured above), though not in the daily budget, was a $20 cremant from the Loire. Made using the same method as Champagne, a cremant of the same quality may cost half as much as a Champagne. For Christmas I tried the Gaudrelle and really enjoyed it. It had a yeastiness that made it interesting. There were only two cremant at my local liquor store and this one was highly rated, so it was an easy pick.
Unfortunately I haven't managed to sit and keep tasting notes. I default to a very simple rating system, which I've been using as I try to get through the 100 beers in the World Beer Club at Ram's Head Tavern: yum, meh, and ick. So very sophisticated.
I have tended to avoid cabernet sauvignon, thinking it will be too "heavy." Therefore, I haven't been drinking Chilean wines lately. Chile does cabernet. Argentina does malbec and tempranillo, which is where I've been leaning in the last few years. But perhaps it's time to try some more cabernet. If I had friends interested enough in wine I would do a tasting with a bottle of Washington cab, one from Chile, and then a Bordeaux. The first step in my wine re-education has been learning about the grapes at a high level and how different winemaking techniques (e.g., American oak versus French oak) affect the wine generally. Now I need to learn more about the different styles by region/country so I can improve my pairing, and my value shopping.
Lest you think I drink several bottles of wine a night, the bottles pictured above span at least a six-week timeframe. It's not that I couldn't (or haven't) knocked off a bottle on my own in one night, but I'm a gal on budget, financially and calorically, so it's two, maybe three, little 5 ounce glasses at most.
Cheers! Salud! Prost!
Gotta run; it's time for a drink...