Poor cook, looking to get into wine

Discussion in 'Pairing Food and Wine' started by atatax, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. atatax

    atatax

    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    So I work in a tourism location and business is slow during the winter, so i have a "day off" for now, sometimes multiple in a single week. With my free time, i want to develop a better taste for wine. I started a little during the tourism season, and discovered a taste for california cabs. I've also found that whites and pinots tend to fall short. And that i quite enjoyed the tangy taste of a cheap Bolla Valpolicella, although found it lacking.

    I'm looking for recomendarions for cabs, valpolicella, maybe ripasso? or other similar reds. I'll probably be drinking them alone, so nothing too kammy. Keep in mind i'm a poor cook and can't spend too much on wine. Also i live in the midwest in the US and would need to be available in that region.
     
  2. jimyra

    jimyra

    Messages:
    927
    Likes Received:
    196
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I like Castello Banfi wines.  I prefer reds but enjoy a good white occasionally.  I prefer to cook with whites.  Banfi is available in many places that carry Italian wines.  They are priced from about ten dollars and up.  Their Chianti is good and is available in several price points.  Here is  their web site http://castellobanfi.com/en/ . Brunello di Montalcino Castello Banfi is my favorite, pricey but a great red.  enjoy     
     
  3. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

    Messages:
    2,126
    Likes Received:
    473
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    If your looking in Napa valley Cabs are king. There are so many good wines in California, Oregon and Washington State. I am drinking Cabs now that are from years 1997 to 2000. If you like Cabs it's hard to go down to a Merlot. Most white and Rose don't do it either. Some of the full bodied reds will make your day. When I spent time in Napa valley I like the way Opus1 did things. There are just to many to bring up. I guess it just depends on your pocketbook........The best......ChefBill
     
  4. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,766
    Likes Received:
    408
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    WOW....Opus 1?  Expensive.

    I find California Cabs way too sweet. Zinfandels and Merlots as well.

    Actually many red wines from America are too sweet for my palate.

    I understand that Americans like their sweet things, but some wines are way over the top.
     
    flipflopgirl likes this.
  5. atatax

    atatax

    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Yeah, i think the main reason the Valpolicella was appealing was that it wasn't as sweet as american wines i've tried.

    I think i only stayed away from Chianti because i've read its a wine to drink with food. It is hard trying to find a non chianti italian red wine around here though.

    Are there wines from other old world regions i should try? Any good Spanish reds that are affordable? French?
     
  6. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,766
    Likes Received:
    408
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    There are reasonably priced wines from Spain and France but it all depends on what your wine store carries.

    I have to, for example, travel well over 200 miles to get descent European wines.

    Tempranillo is a great Spanish wine as is Rioja, or Nero d' Ovelo.

    From France a good Bourgogne made from the Pinot Noir grape is wonderful.

    Malbec is another great French wine but it is also made in Argentina and is sweeter.
     
  7. atatax

    atatax

    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Thanks for the recommendations, was able to find a Bourgogne made with Pinot Noir. Just have to decide whether to save it and share it on christmas eve or drink it before.

    One thing, even googling i don't see anu d'Ovelo, did you mean d'Avola perhaps?
     
  8. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,766
    Likes Received:
    408
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    Yes I did....spelling spelling
     
  9. abefroman

    abefroman

    Messages:
    1,413
    Likes Received:
    17
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    Rutherford Hill has some great wines for the money.

    Get one of those suction stopper things, so you can save what's ever left.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015
  10. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,766
    Likes Received:
    408
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    What is this "what's ever left" that you speak of.

    There's never any wine left......./img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  11. atatax

    atatax

    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Found a nice local place with pretty good selection, probably 2 dozen wines from rioja, bought R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia P.A. i think, hard to read the damn font.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015
  12. andreb

    andreb

    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    I Just Like Food
    It may be a good idea to find as a previous poster noted, a good way to preserve an opened bottle of wine. Otherwise you will have to consume any bottle within days, which altho pleasant gets to be expensive, especially for *great* bottles.

    The Coravin system is the best, but expensive. There are a few other systems, all with their weaknesses.  Maybe some day the boxed wines will have more than a couple decent offerings* (their big advantage, no need to worry about keeping the wine fresh, it *always* stay fresh ;D ).

    And if you subscrive to Vivino for example, they have some well priced special deals

    (*) Botabox: Old  Vine Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc are better than average. Might be fun to test them blind against other more expensive bottled wines.

    PS. Speaking of deals, if you are interested, message me directly for more info
     
  13. mojak

    mojak

    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Great Pinots can be had for realatively cheap, under $20. Santa Lucia Highlands (Monterey, Ca area) Pinots are some of the best I've found and probably in your budget.

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
  14. mojak

    mojak

    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Chef Ross,

    Seriously? In blind tastings the Napa wines consistently beat the French with French Tasters. I've been drinking Nor-Cal Cabs for 45 years. To sweet, don't think so. Try a nice Rutherford sometime, they are known for what's called "Rutherford Dust" an exceptionally dry finish. Perhaps the sweetness to which you refer is the sweet smell of success and it all began in 1976.

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
    brandon odell likes this.
  15. atatax

    atatax

    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Yeah, that Coravin system looks a bit steep and takes up a bit of space. I was thinking of just getting one of those systems with the special cork and hand pump to create a vacuum inside. Only like $10.

    My roommate actually has a bota box old vine Zinfandel and I got their cab sauv, a little disappointed with the cab, but not horrible either. Probably won't buy it again.

    I appreciate the offer for more info on deals, after the holidays, after I drink through anything people might of gifted me, I'll have to take you up on it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2015
  16. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,766
    Likes Received:
    408
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    I guess my palate must be overly sensitive to sweet then.

    I too have traveled Hwy. 29 up and down the Napa Valley wineries, several times.

    Perhaps the wines I tried fit my definition.

    I would gladly invite a non sweet Cabernet or Merlot into my home.

    Unfortunately I am location challenged and don't have access to many of the wines you speak of.

    Thanks for your thoughts
     
  17. jimyra

    jimyra

    Messages:
    927
    Likes Received:
    196
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Went to Total Wine and more yesterday.  Talk about a selection and good prices it's like and adult candy store.
     
  18. atatax

    atatax

    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    So, running out of my bota box cab, looking at a new box for the ultra low end, thinking black box's cab any other super cheap cabs to look at for daily consumption?
     
  19. atatax

    atatax

    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    so update time :)

    I've had a great Chianti Classico Reserva that kind of reminded me of dark chocolate or maybe a cream stout, i think the only thing i disliked about it was i wanted some acidity. But i thought it was like an excellent dessert wine. And I've had a Sicilian red that was i think a 85%Nero d'avlo 15% Frappato blend that reminded me a little of a Pinot, but a lot better, like what i think a Pinot should be :)In a summer day or if was going to have a red in a social environment without food, i might actually prefer it to a good californian cab. I also have had a south african shiraz and a rioja neither of which i was much of a fan of, they didn't seem to have as much of a body to them, maybe a little too upfront with the flavor and i think i disliked the pepperiness they brought. 

    So naturally, i have a very high opinion of Italian reds right now. Wines i was thinking about getting next: 100% nero d'avola, a ripasso because i'm too poor to try an amarone and i'm still looking for really good and cheap cab, something to have as maybe my daily glass of red to have after work that on a cook's wages i can afford to have after a day's work, so sub $15 a bottle, ideally sub $10 a bottle. Might look into a Chilean cab as i hear they offer quite good value.

    any advice is welcome.
     
  20. virgil

    virgil

    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    52
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    I live in the Midwest, too.  Sadly, you are not going to find any local wines here that are really worth your time.  I've been a member of a wine club for a long time and I rarely buy wine from a store. 

    Finding great wine does not have to be an expensive undertaking either.  In fact, you can  join any number of on-line wine clubs and find fantastic and affordable wine for under $20.   I'm a member of wine.com and I love their 90+ rated wines for under $20 feature (sorry...I don't mean to sound like a commercial for wine.com lol). 

    However, there are certain thing about the wine community that must be first understood before you start swishing it around in your glass.  The first and, perhaps, most important thing to understand is almost everything about wine is a matter of opinion and subject to individual tastes and preferences.  The only real way to create your own understanding of what you like and don't like is to try out as many wines as you can.  But, that takes time, patience and sadly,  a little bit of money. 

    Before you start opening bottles of wine, read as much as you can about wine, how its made, where its made, who makes it, etc.  That way, you will have an understanding of why you are tasting what you are tasting when you drink a bottle of wine.  After a little while, you will begin to develop your own tastes and preferences.  But, more importantly, you will have an understanding of why you like a particular wine beyond how it tastes. 

    Normally, most beginners' first experience with wine usually happens with Cabernet.  Its a common wine and can be found slowly turning to vinegar in just about every bar or restaurant from Maine to Washington State.  As a result, Cabernet has become the cash cow of the California wine industry due precisely to its popularity.  However, the real gem of California wine country is Pinot Noir, especially Pinot Noir from Sonoma County.  But, I am getting ahead of myself here. 

    If you really want to learn about wine, one of the worst ways you can go about that is by picking out wines from your average liquor or wine store.   These sorts of stores will feature mostly mass produced wines and offer little in the way of offerings that are representative of a particular region's wine.  Usually there are one or two good wine stores in most cities that can help you out in finding good wines from the various regions and countries.  But, again, you will be paying a certain amount of markup as part of your tuition.  In that way, a wine club might be a better and cheaper way to go.  They usually offer a very wide selection of wine without the overhead costs because they cut out the middle man. 

    Once you have started to develop your own preferences and have an understanding of what makes certain wines taste the way they do, your appreciation for wine will start to deepen.  For example, I do not typically like Cabernet or Merlot.  However, I understand why a good Cabernet is considered good and why a good Merlot (if there is such a thing) is considered good.

    Also, become familiar with what vintage years were good in the various regions.  One of the dynamics of wine is the same wine from the same region may be excellent one year and not so great the next.  Learn what years were good years and not so good years.  This is very important.  You can find this information very easily with a a google search. 

    Learn why wine raters give various wines points and the characteristics of the wine that form the basis for their ratings.  Become familiar with the terms used in wine tasting such as legs, body, finish, etc.  Know what is meant when someone describes such characteristics as tanins and dryness.  Learn how alcohol content effects the taste of the wine.  Try not to dwell on flowery and egocentric descriptions of wines like "the wine has floral notes with hints of licorice and burnt chocolate."  No one really knows what the hell they are talking about when they describe wine in this way.  Its really more of a selling point for the pretentious rather than anything that is useful when it comes to explaining what a wine tastes like.  At least that's the way I see it.

    Wine is fun.  As Galileo said "Wine is sunlight held together by water."  Approach it that way and have fun with it and it will be something you will enjoy for the rest of your life. 

    As for recommendations, Valpolicella tends to be one of the more expensive of the Italian reds. But, you can find reasonably good Valpolicellas for under $30 like Marchesi Fuminelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore (2013) for about $28.  Another reasonably good Valpolicella is Bolla La Poaine Valpolicella Ripasso (2011) at about $20. 

    I hope this helps.

    Enjoy!