Do you ever stare blankly at the wine section in your local supermarket wishing a genie sommelier would appear to guide you to the perfect bottle? If so, Metrocurean has you covered. We reached out to five area wine experts for their go-to supermarket bottle, most under $15.
Andy Myers, sommelier at CityZen
“I have a go-to red that I buy at Whole Foods on P Street regularly. It’s the 2009 Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato produced by Osél. The wine is medium-bodied, bright and plumy. It’s dangerously quaffable and as I like to cook on Mondays when CityZen is closed, I inevitably see the bottle empty before dinner is ready. It has moderately low tannins which makes it ideal for pre-dinner, but I also like it with hearty fish preparations. If you push it up against meat make sure it’s a simple preparation as this wine is uncomplicated and would get steamrolled by anything too bold.
Beyond being super yummy and pretty cheap ($13), it also has a very high geek factor as it’s quite rare to see this varietal anywhere since it’s grown in a tiny part of Piedmont and is a notoriously difficult grape to work with. The first bottle I bought was simply because I’d never seen one before and wanted to see what it was like. Glad I did!”
Brent Kroll, wine director of Adour at The St. Regis
“The 2009 Trimbach Riesling can be found at Trader Joe’s for under $15. Alsace is one of the best values in France and in the world ... and has the luxury of being one of the driest and sunniest climates in France. The unique climate benefits immensely from unique subsoils and a shadow effect from the Vosges Mountains. Riesling is Alsace’s most acidic, prolific and last ripening grape.
Trimbach has been making dry styles in Ribeauvillé since 1626 and this one has about two grams of sugar per liter. This wine is medium-bodied with a ton of minerality and a long finish. Fruit notes consist of green apple/pear and white peach. A great value that can be paired with your favorite Asian food, all the way to the classic Alsatian pairing of onion pie.”
Kathryn Bangs, wine director at Komi
“I buy beer at Whole Foods, Cheerios at Safeway and wine at Trader Joe's. I've had some terribly tasty Spanish roses and Austrian Gruner Veltliners from Trader Joe's — all for under $10. My go-to wine is the Espiral Vinho Verde from Portugal. It's extremely zesty and slightly effervescent. It tastes like lime, green apple with a maritime component ... and it's $4.99.
Its tart acidity also works well in cocktails. See the recipes below:
2 ounces Vinho Verde
1.5 ounces St-Germain
2 ounces Soda Water
Build in the glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
1.5 ounces Calvados
.75 ounce St-Germain
.5 ounce lemon juice
.5 ounce Vinho Verde
Shake and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with apple slices.
Jill Zimorski, wine director at Volt
“There are two grocery stores in my neighborhood — Whole Foods and Safeway — the "Social Safeway" actually. I went there to peruse the wine selection because the whole store has recently been remodeled and actually boasts a sommelier on staff, and it's pretty awesome. For a selection that is $15 and under, I would go in a couple of directions:
White: Loosen Brothers "Dr. L" Riesling from the Mosel Valley, Germany. This wine comes from great producers in Germany -- Ernst (Ernie) and Thomas Loosen. It's not their estate grown fruit (purchased from growers with whom they have long term contracts), but it's well made, lightly sweet & balanced in its acidity. It's a bargain at $10.99 (on sale from $13.99). Totally guzzle-able.
Red: Bodegas Borsao: Straight Garnacha (Grenache) and the "Tres Picos" Garnacha from Spain — on sale for $6.99 (from $9.99) and $13.99 (from $19.99) respectively. Grenache is one of those grapes that is capable of making really pleasant wines that are remarkably affordable — there is lots of juicy red fruit flavor in both of these wines (more intensity with the Tres Picos). One of my servers at a former restaurant said it best to me once: ‘I like to drink Pinot Noir, but I can't afford to drink it as often as I like, so I drink Grenache.’ Grenache/Garnacha isn't Pinot Noir and it's not trying to be, but if you like red fruit flavors in your wines with a touch of earth and spice, it'll do — great on its own or with food.
Also look for Catena Estate Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina: On sale from $21.99 down to $13.39. One of the largest and most established producers in Mendoza, this is a quality wine that I'd always be happy to drink. Malbec is versatile and goes with all manner of meats and anything grilled.”
Craig Erion, sommelier at Restaurant Eve
Craig suggests a Spanish bottle from the Toro region — Elías Mora Crianza — saying that “wines made it that part of Spain are rounder, juicier and less tannic ... more along the lines of what American tastes are geared toward.” The bottle can be found at Planet Wine and at the soon-to-open Society Fair. Craig’s expert advice: “Look at the back of the bottle rather than the front”, in other words, pay attention to the importer.
Ashlie Hughes is pursuing her longtime dream of writing about food and travel. During her free time she enjoys trying new restaurants, searching for the perfect cocktail, and daydreaming about traveling the world. She currently writes a column titled The Aperitif and other articles for Patch.com.