By Joe Sevier. Photos courtesy of brands.
It’s Grocery Month at Epicurious, and we’re thinking about super-fast checkout lines, alternative mylks (not a typo), and the cheapest bottles of olive oil (and wine). Check out the complete series here.
The wine section at your local grocer is a mine field. Choose the wrong Chardonnay and your dinner could be ruined. Or, at least, a whole lot less satisfying.
Without the help of a knowledgable wine store salesperson (and I don't know about you, but my local supermarket certainly doesn't have one of those), it can be hard to figure out which wine is good. Fortunately, try-while-you-buy wines may be in our near future, but for tips in the meantime, I talked to sommelier and food writer Lisa Elbert to find 13 reliable bottles that you can find right now, wherever you shop for wine.
Please note: Many of these wines can be found in additional stores not listed here. All prices are subject to change and can vary greatly from state to state.
Bogle is a high-volume producer of a number of different wine varietals, so you're likely to find it at a supermarket near you. But, says Elbert, "it's family-owned and run by farmers," so the quality of the wine is just as reliable as the quantity. Their Zinfandel is lush and lively with red berry notes and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
$12.99 at Wegmans (also available at some Trader Joe's)
If you're a fan of Malbec or Pinot Noir, Nero d’Avola, from Sicily, is definitely one to look out for—Elbert says the three grapes have similar characteristic when it comes to style and flavor. Corvo's rendition is fruit-forward (think cherries), juicy, and rich, making it great for your next cook-out.
"Anything from Charles Smith is a safe bet," says Elbert. "The wines all have personality, and the marketing is super-catchy," which makes spotting them on store shelves that much easier.
Oregon-based Cloudline is an outpost from Joseph Drouhin, one of the largest domaines in Burgundy. The winery is "family-run, the wines are biodynamic and responsibly farmed," and, says Elbert, "a badass woman [Ed. note: Véronique Boss-Drouhin] oversees the entire operation. It’s worth the splurge."
Negroamaro is a red wine grape native to Southern Italy. Elbert notes that wines made from the grape are "powerhouses: big in body, flavor, and alcohol content." This wine is made from a majority Negroamaro, with two other grapes blended in—Primitivo and Cabernet—that soften the wine and give it balance. The bottom line? "It's fruit-forward but with balanced acidity and spice—it’s great with meat."
$11.99 at Fresh Direct (also available at Whole Foods)
This collaboration between Charles Smith (see above) and another Charles (Bieler) is a must for the Fourth of July—I mean, just look at the label. The blend is Cabernet and Syrah and it's fermented in a way that results in a robust wine with an alcohol level that's relatively lower than wines of similar intensity. It's a great casual wine.
$12 at Trader Joe's
As mentioned above, this producer is one of the largest domaines in Burgundy and the grapes in this Chardonnay come entirely from that region, at a very reasonable price point. It's primarily aged in stainless steel, which gives it a refreshing crispness, but spends a short time in oak, which softens the wine with notes of honey and vanilla.
Rieslings are typically crowd-pleasers that go well with a variety of cuisines, and this version from the Pacific Northwest–based Pacific Rim is no exception. Elbert says it's "dry...for a Riesling," which are often on the sweeter side. It's citrusy and refreshing and would be delicious with whatever you're cooking—or even all on its own.
This New Zealand white is clean and crisp with a tropical vibe and "grapefruity undertones." This is the wine you want to have with grilled fish or sushi or anytime you want to feel like you're one step away from the beach—even if that means closing your eyes as you lounge on a city stoop, imagining you're by the pool in Wellington.
If you haven't jumped on the Grüner Veltliner train, now is the time. "The dry, herbaceous white pairs with almost anything," says Elbert. "But it's one of the only wines that pairs well with artichokes and asparagus." (Ahem, spring.) Besides that, it's crisp, clear, and slightly effervescent, making it an even more refreshing choice for a hot spring or summer day than—dare I say it—rosé.
$16 (for a 1L bottle) at Whole Foods
Sparkling & Rose
This solid, easy-to-find sparkling wine "pairs with almost everything," says Elbert. "It's great on its own or mixed into cocktails." At the price, you can grab a few bottles to sip all night long, or just serve it with appetizers or dessert.
If you see this wine on store shelves anywhere, snag as many bottles as you can. A few summers ago, the winery—yes, the winery, not just wine stores—sold out of the Long Island–made rosé in less than two months. If you can't find it though, don't be discouraged, Wölffer makes several other rosés—some even at lower price points—that are just as delicious, if not as frenzy-inducing.
$24.99 at Whole Foods
It's a sparkling rosé featuring three Bs that Elbert says, "you've probably never heard of:" two grapes, Baga and Bical, and the Portuguese wine region Bairrada. "It's aromatic, acidic, tannic, and made in the same style as Champagne." Most importantly: it's delicious.
$15 at Trader Joe's
Looking for more options? Try Epi's own blended Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.
This story originally appeared on Epicurious.
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