This writer has three drinking vices: beer, wine, and "spirits" (hard alcohol). His favorite drinks, the martini and Rusty Nail, are made with "spirits". For Lent, he gave up "spirits" and his sojourns to bars. His friends noticed this aberrant behavior and compensated for it by plying him with cheap wines.
With less than a few days of Lent left, this writer wishes to recommend some "tested" red wines. (The only white wine he can stomach is Prosecco from the Puglia region of Italy; he got hooked on this effervescent white wine a few years ago while in Rome when he noticed the Romans drinking it morning, noon, afternoon, evening, or midnight). All of the following wines can be found at the mentioned locales in Mid-County at very reasonable (aka, cheap) prices.
Trader Joe's carries the legendary "Two Buck Chuck", but the price has crept up to $3.00/bottle. For cheap table wines at a large Easter gathering, you cannot go wrong with this brand. Serve the expensive wine first with the meal and "Two Buck Chuck" afterwards when those with refined palates and the Philistines who are drinking-for-drinkings-sake won't notice a cruder taste.
Heather at Trader Joe's does the same thing as this writer in picking out new wines: go for the labels with artsy motifs and graphics, then read the description of the wine, and buy it if it goes with what you are serving. Heather is from Texas and was drawn to the label on "Long Arm, Lot 81"---the label is a single, large, lone star. This "red blend" is produced and bottled by Familia Nueva in Creston, CA. Its "arpeggio of flavors" consists of "smoky blueberry, red cherry, and currant with moderate tannins". This wine would be good with lamb or ham. At $5.99/bottle you cannot go wrong!
Another striking blend and label is "La Granja 360 (The Farm 360)". From Carinena in Northern Spain, the label is a zebra with 1/2 its stripes painted red. The blend is 50% "tempranillo" and 50% "garnacha", two types of grapes which grow well on the drier hillsides. Bottled in 2010 and for sale at $4.99/bottle, this wine has "red, fruity aromas" with "full flavor of dark berries and a velvet finish".
This writer would be remiss not to mention his girlfriend's favorite red Shiraz. The label and graphic is "Purple Moon". At $3.99/bottle, it can even be drunk as an appetizer or dessert wine with fruit and cheese.
Currently, World Market is having "over 150 white and sparkling wines on sale". If you like white wines or the prosecco grape, this is the place to go. From California, "Echelon Brand" wines are also on sale at $4.99 each. You can "mix and match" Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you join their wine club (your phone # and e-mail) you get an additional 10% off 4 or more bottles.
Over at Whole Foods, Danny said that their equivalent to "Two Buck Chuck" is "Three Wishes". These wines hail from California and include Merlot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. A case (12 bottles) of each is $34.97. The hand-lettered sign says: 12 bottles = 75 glasses at 47 cents each pour. Incredible buy!
Danny added:"Three Wishes is an exclusive deal for Whole Foods customers only".
So, stock up on some wines for your Easter or Passover weekend. Also do not forget The Wine Merchant in Clayton and Starrs in Richmond Heights. There the wine experts can recommend wine by the bottle or by the case. Happy shopping!