Hi. Smile

After many years of buying the occasional bottle of wine, I have recently purchased my first case of wine and have almost finished it off. I tend to like Carbernet Sauvignon with steak, but I prefer a Merlot for pure drinking before or after a meal. The case I purchased was a blend called Chateau Lafite Rothschilde Reserve. I found it suitable for before and during the meal, but the bitterness seems to build up and I have a difficult time finishing the bottle without chilling it.

I'm specifically looking to put together a sampler of similar, but hopefully better, wines to try out, and so I am looking for some suggestions of such wines that are daily drinkers under $20 that are "drink now" and also widely available, such as at Specs. I'm finding that most of the wines rated here are not available at Specs, and that the wines listed on the Specs website tend not to be rated here, so I am looking for personal recommendations, with an eye towards price and availability. If you personally would not recommend a wine under $20, what would you consider a minimum price level to recommend, and which wines in particular?

Thanks! Smile
Original Post
I'd like to add that I got the Wine Spectator App for my iPhone last week and I have been using it to shop locally. I haven't had much luck yet finding a cab and/or merlot that I like, but the app led me to the Jacob's Creek Shiraz and the A to Z Pinot Noir. I really like both of those. :-)

I also got a Zazzol rapid wine aerator and I have been getting an education on decanting young reds. Most respond really well to it.
Thanks for the clarification VinT. You are right about the Lafite I purchased being the $13 bottle with the Wine Spectator rating of 86.

I recall hearing that the market for french reds really tightened up not long ago due to growing Chinese interest in those particular wines. I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but based on the thread you linked, it seems like it would be difficult to find cab/merlot type wine I would like for under $25/bottle.

Now, let me clarify that I am not dissatisfied with the Cab I already have for drinking with a steak dinner. I like a really dry red wine to sort or "reset the tastebuds" between bites, and make each bite of steak taste as good as the first. My hope was that I might find a Cab or Cab/Merlot blend that would do that, and that would also be suitable for drinking before and after the meal. After doing some tasting, I think that is probably a lost cause.

At this point, I've actually gravitated towards a Pinot Noir for before and after the meal, and just having a glass or two of cab with the meal, and recorking the bottle of cab. I'm not really a fan of recorking, but I guess that's my best option, unless anyone has other suggestions.
quote:
Originally posted by ihasacorkscrew:
it seems like it would be difficult to find cab/merlot type wine I would like for under $25/bottle.



I think you should look at Washington State, and perhaps Chile/Argentina. I might specifically point you to wines by Columbia Crest, Chateau St. Michelle (both Washington) and Concha Y Toro (Chile), but there are lots of other producers who make a good wine for under $25. There is also a lot of good Bordeaux from unheralded Chateaux in 2009 and 2010 that would fit the bill, but as you have found, it can be a bit hit and miss.
LOL! :-) I like that about the steak resetting the tastebuds for the wine.

Most of all, I like variety. Tonight, for example, I started with a Longrow Scotch (rocks), then the Correyvrecken (neat), followed by a couple of glasses of Trivento Amado Sur (WS rating 91), then Vodka with Pineapple juice, followed by some kind of hard root beer my husband bought and didn't like, then water. I keep thinking of that Pinot, though.

As fars as the Chateau St Michelle, I couldn't find the favorably reviewed 2010, so I looked up the "Vintage" 2011 for reds in Washington state and found a 91. Based on that, I sprang for the 2011, Chateau St Michelle Merlot, but I found it expressed more tannins than I like when decanted. It tastes great straight from the bottle, but even rough treatment in the mouth brings out more tannins than I prefer in a Merlot, which I don't view as being for pairing with food. Maybe I would like the Chateau St. Michelle Cab, for pairing with food?
quote:
Originally posted by ihasacorkscrew:
Based on that, I sprang for the 2011, Chateau St Michelle Merlot, but I found it expressed more tannins than I like when decanted. It tastes great straight from the bottle, but even rough treatment in the mouth brings out more tannins than I prefer in a Merlot, which I don't view as being for pairing with food.

Interesting. What do you mean by "it expressed more tannins than I like when decanted"?

I'll be happy to share my thoughts, but I'd like to hear your unfiltered thoughts / impressions first. And to be clear, I don't think there are any wrong answers here - it's just your impressions and how you express them.
quote:
Originally posted by SD-Wineaux:
Interesting. What do you mean by "it expressed more tannins than I like when decanted"?

I'll be happy to share my thoughts, but I'd like to hear your unfiltered thoughts / impressions first. And to be clear, I don't think there are any wrong answers here - it's just your impressions and how you express them.


I just mean that the red wines I've decanted strike me as noticeably more dry as a result of decanting. I only started using a decanter recently, so it may be that I preferred a merlot over the sweeter pinot because I wasn't decanting. Now that I am decanting, I think I prefer the pinot. Another effect of decanting these reds seems to be enhancing the finish, so that it lasts much longer. I really like that, so I am gravitating towards decanting a pinot over drinking a merlot without decanting.
quote:
Originally posted by ihasacorkscrew:
I just mean that the red wines I've decanted strike me as noticeably more dry as a result of decanting. I only started using a decanter recently, so it may be that I preferred a merlot over the sweeter pinot because I wasn't decanting. Now that I am decanting, I think I prefer the pinot. Another effect of decanting these reds seems to be enhancing the finish, so that it lasts much longer. I really like that, so I am gravitating towards decanting a pinot over drinking a merlot without decanting.

Got it, thanks. Finding a common language, of sorts, can be tricky when describing wines. I'd never experienced tannins increasing in strength from decanting, and was curious about the details of your experience. Tannins have a drying effect (significantly tannic wines feel, to me, as if they are pulling all of the moisture out of the inside of my cheeks), but that's not what folks typically mean when describing a wine as "dry".

And you'll find that your preference for decanting versus not will vary quite a bit by the varietal, region and age. It's a great exploration, determining your likes and dislikes while trying different wines. Enjoy, and welcome to the forums!

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