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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bargain Wine of the Week: An All-Purpose Cheat Sheet

Eat Well, Eat Cheap gives you all sorts of great wines for less than $10. But then you walk into your local wine store, and you can't find one of our recommendations for wine values at a bargain price. We've tried to give you some universal pointers on brands that are consistent enough to be reliable, but what's a person to do when faced with aisles of anonymous labels?

Wine Enthusiast magazine, arguably the most trusted wine magazine, has come to the rescue. In its new issue (March 2011) it published a reliable wine bargain cheat sheet for the wine store, supermarket or wine discount store.

Wine Enthusiast divided its bargain list first by country. Then it listed the labels that have proved to be the most reliable in its "Best Buy" listings over the years. After each label, it lists the specific regions and varietals that are the pick of the label's bottles — by varietal but not by year.

So, for example, for Chile, it lists eight wineries that consistently produce great bargains. Santa Rita, Concha y Toro, Casa Lapostolle and Los Vascos are among the eight. Under Casa Lapostolle, it lists the winery's Rapel Valley wines, and specifically its Rapel Cabernet Sauvignon and its Carmenére. The winery imports many more wines than those two, but Wine Enthusiast says that those are the two that are consistently good and consistently bargains.

For American wines, it offers separate categories for California, Washington and Oregon.

The magazine offers this invaluable "Cheat Sheet" as a three-page pdf for download, so that you can take it to the store the next time you shop for wine. You might want to leave it in the car for those times when you pop into an unknown and untried store (or even for restaurant wine lists).

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