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It’s great to find wines that over-deliver for the price. Here are four I’ve recently discovered.
For white wine lovers, my picks are two wines from Spain, a country mostly known for its red wines due to its warm climate. Spain also produces some wonderful, vibrant whites with great acidity (very important for pairing with food), balance and complexity. There are two grape varietals to look for. Rueda, made from the indigenous Viura or Verdejo grape varietals, is light and clean, mainly due to stainless-steel fermenting, which preserves the natural freshness in the wine. The next is Albarino from the Galicia region in northwest Spain. Albarino (the grape varietal) has a bit more body and richness without overwhelming your palate. Wines from Rueda should be paired with oysters or simple sautéed shrimp with lemon and cilantro. Albarino comes from one of the world’s most acclaimed seafood regions, so it is a natural to pair with grilled scallops and lighter fish such as halibut or black bass. Both can be purchased for under $16.
As for exciting reds that over-deliver, let’s start with Italy. The region of Piedmont (where the famed Barolo and Barbaresco come from) in northwest Italy produces lighter, softer red wines from the grape varietal Dolcetto. More enjoyable in their youth, Dolcetto from the towns Alba and Dogliani possesses a concentration of ripe fruit balanced with subtle tartness and a touch of earthiness. These wines are ideal with a variety of foods from sausages to beef stir fry to roast chicken.
The next wine is from the Rhone region in France. The reds from southern Rhone are always a blend, with the main grape being Grenache. Look for wines from Gigondas. The warm climate produces intense, fuller bodied reds with dried cherry and spice notes. While Gigondas wines can get better with age, they are also drinkable in their youth, especially in warmer vintages like 2009 and 2010. Enjoy with lamb, beef or pork shoulder. Dolcetto can be had for around $16-$20; Gigondas are in the $20-$40 range.
This week’s guest blog is by George Staikos, noted educator and founder of The Educated Grape, a company dedicated to interactive wine classes, tastings and special events.
A 25-year veteran of the wine and hospitality industry, George Staikos is known for his role as an educator, sharing his passion for wine appreciation. He is the founder and president of the Educated Grape, a company specializing in interactive education programs and in-home wine entertaining for wine enthusiasts and companies. He is a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s International School of Hospitality Management, where he teaches “Introduction to the Study of Wine.” He is also Vice Echanson or regional wine director for the mid-Atlantic region for the Chaine des Rotisseurs, a worldwide food-and-wine organization.
Staikos is a graduate of Florida International University in Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. He is married with three children and lives in Flemington.