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Bond Girl

Wine for Beginners

32 posts in this topic

I haven't yet met a South African wine that I liked (it was not I who suggested them, farther upthread). That may just be the luck of the draw. The pinotage grape - a South African grape NOT to be confused with pinot noir - seems to have a really distinctive, wild, flavor and aroma suggestive of cat pee. I'd avoid it without knowing more. Also, I agree with Chris Taylor that you aren't likely to find a California wine of comparable quality to your more local selections without paying a lot more money. Similarly, someone noted above that a good chateauneuf de pape is likely to be a bank-buster, and that an affordable one (that is, at your price range) isn't likely to be representative of the genre. They're right. I wish I'd thought of that.

The suggestions upthread to talk to Majestic wine salespeople, or other salespeople, to get guidance on potential winners based on your present tastes and experience are excellent ideas. Tasting ahead of time is good if you can do it. I also think that the folks who are suggesting that you start with lighter wines may be onto something. When I first started drinking wine, it was the Rhinecastles (rather sweetish whites) and roses for me. I thought chianti and cabernet sauvignon were much too strong; I think it was a burgundy that first got my attention as a Good Thing. Now I like a good spicy zinfandel or Rioja, as noted above..but I also adore a Cotes du Rhone - it really is a lovely blend - or gamay beaujolais (there's the Georges DuBoef again) for its lighter notes. So I think, if you aren't able to do a tasting or a good consultation with a knowledgeable salesperson, you should try for a cross-section from light to robust wines. By the way - in the USA, at least, it's difficult to get a good pinot noir without spending a lot of money. Otherwise I agree that it's also a lovely grape.

Heck, I think they're all great - except the aforementioned pinotage. Are you thoroughly confused by now? :-)


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I'd like to put in a word for the Argentines and Chileans, who produce some really outstanding reds. Bear in mind that I like my wine to have quite a bit of character to it, and the South American grapes seem to provide this best. What I'm listing below are spicier and more fruity/tannin-y, which are flavours that are more likely to be pleasant to you given your like of the distilled wines.

Viñalba Reserva Malbec, and Testimonio de Luigi Bosca are the best two Argentine wines at your site, for the shekels you want to spend. It's a shame that they're focussing on single-grape wines, because the Merlot-Malbecs and Malbec-Sirahs are also lovely wines, particularly for those who like sherry and port. On the Chilean side, the Medalla Real Carmenere is gorgeous.

I can't help much with the rosé, as I'm not at all fond of them; I will join in with the others though and ask you to reconsider the whites.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I too have found some great Argentine and Chilean reds, but hadn't seen any in the list that I recognized. Thanks, P.C. I'll be looking for those myself! By the way - I agree with you about the blends.


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Guys, first of all I'd like to thank you all for very interesting and thorough replies, I didn't expect that so many people would come to help me.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take your advice on my first purchase, as I went out shopping later that night.

In the end I opted for:

Beaujolais 2011, Chateau de Pizay
Rioja Reserva 2008, Marques de Riscal
Rioja Ardanza 2004
Sancerre Rose Domaine des Clairneaux 2012
2x La Casetta Valpolicella
Set me back total of £80 + they gave me a £10 voucher for next purchase. Not too bad I think.
But anyway, so far I've tried the Valpolicella, and that was pretty good. Very fruity and very smooth, I've enjoyed it quite a lot, was nice with pork and on its own. Honestly, didn't expect this wine to be so pleasant, it put a smile on my face :D
I've tried the Sancerre Rose too, and that was extremely dry, but well balanced and quite easy drinkable, however it felt more like a house wine you would get in a casual french restaurant. Good wine, but definitely wasn't worth the price point of £14.
I am really looking forward to try others in the near future.
You guys gave me some really good information that I will certainly consider for next purchase, so thank you for that!

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Thanks for the report to date! I must say, I overlooked the fact that Marques de Riscal was offering a Rioja...I'd have recommended it...I particularly appreciate their Riojas, and I hope you appreciate them as much as I do..

Keep us posted as you keep trying the rest of your purchase!


Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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It sounds like you made some nice choices!

I am a wine lover who also works in the business (working on behalf of a number of wineries) so I have had a chance to try quite a few wines and talk to a lot of people about what they like. I have found that some great wines for beginners who are not quite sure where to begin are wine blends, and in your case, red blends. Some good ones I have had the fortune of trying recently are: Jacob's Creed Red Blend (from Australia), Graffigna Elevation Red Blend (from Argentina) and Dead Bolt Winemaker's Red Blend (from Napa Valley, CA). You might want to give these a try next time, as they are all very versatile and tend to pair well with foods.

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Welcome to EGullet!

And I'm curious...

...and Dead Bolt Winemaker's Red Blend (from Napa Valley, CA). ...

Why do you think this wine is from Napa Valley? The wine label says the appellation is "California." (Pic of the label here: http://wine-by-benito.blogspot.com/2013/02/2010-deadbolt-winemakers-blend.html )

The "California" appellation usually means Central Valley grapes that are grown for mass-market wines. While many of these wines are drinkable, they don't compare with higher-quality wines that have any of the Napa Valley appellations. Wines from Central Valley grapes don't have the stratospheric prices of Napa Valley wines, either. :rolleyes:

Central Valley grapes are grown in hot weather and harvested early compared to Napa Valley (or Sonoma) grapes. The hotter climate and shorter growing season mean Central Valley grapes have less flavor and usually higher alcohol when made into wine. These wines can still be enjoyable, of course, and they're reasonably priced.

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