Thursday, May 22, 2008

Introducing the Wine Guy!

"I know I don't have his looks. I know I don't have his money. I know I don't have his connections, his knowledge of fine wines. "
- Wayne Campbell in Wayne's World (1992)

Wine knowledge is not a skill set I possess. Oh sure, I know a white from a red, but that's because I can see the difference in color. This puts me at a disadvantage when I'm having a party. Many of my guests are true wine connoisseurs and I want to serve something they can enjoy. So what do I do? Turn to my good friend the Wine Guy! Mrs. Wine Guy is also a good friend of mine. We both are legendary for our shocking lack of ability to recognize fine wines. Many of our weeknight dinners have been unknowingly enhanced by a treasured wine our husbands were storing for a special occasion. Indeed, Mrs. Wine Guy once made a pot roast with a $150 bottle of cabernet from a case of wine bought at auction by Mr. Wine Guy. Her thinking, "there were multiple bottles of the same cabernet in the wine cellar so I thought it was OK to use."

With all the upcoming graduation parties - my older son is graduating from high school and my younger son from 8th grade - Memorial Day get-togethers and Father's Day celebrations, I asked the Wine Guy to recommend a few reasonably priced wines for those of us who are wine-challenged. Here are his selections.

  • Toasted Head Chardonnay - Available for $9-$12 at most major grocery store chains. This wine is described by the Wine Guy as toasty. I don't care much for Chardonnay, but I have tried this wine and really enjoyed it.
  • Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay - Available for $9-$14 , also at most major grocery chains. According to the Wine Guy, this used to be a more expensive wine, but the price was lowered without affecting the quality. He says there is some effervescence to this wine, so don't be surprised by a slight fizzy quality.
  • Montes Alpha Cabernet - Available for $10 - $15 at Costco and large grocery chains. To quote the Wine Guy, "this is a fruit forward, dark berry, large wine. In a blind taste test it was put in the same category as wines priced at $35 a bottle".
  • Barnard-Griffin Merlot - Available for $10 - $15. (I forgot to ask where to buy this wine but my guess is most grocery stores and any liquor store will carry it.) The Wine Guy calls this wine "easy to drink and mellow."

Now for my favorite wine, champagne! I absolutely adore champagne! If I could drink only one type of wine or alcoholic beverage for the rest of my life it would be champagne. I do happen to know that true champagne comes from the Champagne region in France. Everything else is sparkling wine. Beyond this tidbit of knowledge I am clueless. So what does the Wine Guy say about champagne? When it comes to champagne you have to splurge. He recommends:
  • Schramsberg Sparkling Wine - A California wine that ranges in price from $20 - $40. Wine Guy tells me that Schramsberg is the sparkling wine Richard Nixon took to Beijing on his historic visit to see Chairman Mao. Nixon gave Mao Schramsberg sparkling wine as a gift in exchange for the pandas which Mao gifted to the United States.
  • Domaine Chandon Sparkling Wine - For a more reasonably priced champagne, the Wine Guy suggests Domaine Chandon sparkling wine from California. He describes this as a tolerable sparkling wine that is greatly improved by the addition of flavored liquors such as, raspberry Chambord. He adds that its perfect for my Genny cocktail. (To find the recipe visit
I urge everyone to seek out and use your own local wine guy. And if you have any recommendations we want to hear them.

Until next time,


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