Friday, 23 June 2017

W is for Weekend – and Wine – Cheap and Cheerful Edition

Happy Friday everyone!

It’s time to kick off your work shoes and relax on the patio (remember, we are on a bologna budget here)! It’s time to have a nice glass of wine. 

I am the first to admit that a very good glass of wine is one of my go-to indulgences. If you look at my wine collection (Husband says I’m just hoarding at this point), you will see a lot of wines sitting, waiting to be drunk… in about 5 to 10 years. I’ve also been known to pick up a bottle or two that, for the cost, make people curious if I’m serious about saving at all (I have had one or two friends say “you spent how much on that?” in my time). Well, I am, and I have found ways to have my occasional indulgence while still keeping my bank account well-padded.

I have multiple ways that I minimise the impact of my wine habit – buying quality over quantity, not drinking often, keeping it to the weekends when I decide to have a drink and most importantly, having a couple of good wines that are well-drinking but won’t break the bank.

The “cheap and cheerful” bottle, if you will.

Now, I’m not saying you have to drink some sort of bathtub plonk. It is amazing how many great wines you can buy for under $20 (For my international friends, that pricing is not uncommon for wine here. The taxes on our booze can be quite high). These wines may not be top shelf, but with a little bit of TLC, some of them can definitely drink that way.

I was challenged by a friend to find a couple of worthwhile bottles under $15. For a white wine, that isn’t too challenging, but most half-decent reds, where I live, generally start at $16. He knows that. Regardless, I picked up the gauntlet and I have two wines, one red and one white, that will be both great on the palate and the pocketbook.

Source: LCBO Website

First, the white. I decided to go with an Ontario wine, and there is a good reason for this choice. Here in Canada, we know that good (and even great) wines are being made in Ontario but because they tend to be lesser known, some of the more interesting wines can hold a lower price tag, getting you great value for money. One great winery to look out for is Chateau des Charmes. My pick for this post was the 2016 sauvignon blanc. With a price of $14.95, I am cutting it close to my limit, but this wine is just too good to pass up. This is a summer wine at its finest. It is crisp, citrusy and a little grassy with hints of gooseberry. I don’t find it as tropical as some other sauvignons (which I like) but it is perfect with fish, salads, mild, tangy cheese (of course) and summer vegetables like asparagus. It is also a great drinking wine, one to take out to the patio on any given evening. This wine is worth a lot more than you are paying for it and should be enjoyed before others catch on and the price goes up. 

Source: LCBO Website

When it came to the red, I was originally worried that I was going to have a hard time finding a unique wine that would fit the parameters of my challenge – then I remembered I had an ace up my sleeve. Beso de Vino’s Seleccion, a blend of syrah and garnacha wines. I am absolutely mad for this wine. Give it about 20-30 minutes to breathe and you will have a wine that tastes like you spent three times as much. American wine critic Stephen Tanzer has rated many vintages of this wine, all of them coming out in the 89-90/100 range. This Spanish wine is extremely fruity with a lot of cherry and blackberry notes holding undertones of tobacco, anisette and pepper. It was oaked just long enough to smooth out rough edges and drinks beautifully. While this wine is a little heavier than, say, a more “summery” gamay or pinot noir (reds that can be drunk slightly chilled), it is just too good to relegate to a season. On a slightly cooler evening? I will reach for this wine almost every time. The best part? It only costs $9.95. Food-wise, pair it with a nice steak and salad or a meaty red sauce and you’re golden.

So there you have it; you don’t have to sacrifice quality when you cut your cost. Sometimes it takes a bit of research, sometimes even a bit of trial and error, but the good stuff is out there. Throw up your heels this Friday and enjoy a nice glass of wine knowing it didn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

(And make sure to hide the expensive bottles!)


The aftermath


  1. I'm so trying these out. I'm guilty of buying boxed wine to try and save money, but these sound lovely (and cheaper!)

    1. Cheapest isn't always best! And honestly the Beso will impress guests while you are saving a dime or two (or 10).

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