Value Wines: Cashing in on Quality Deals

Finding wine you love at any price point is no longer a challenge.

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Dino Roussia is a certified sommelier for the Court of Masters in London and certified spirits advisor. He may be reached at 407-719-9162.

Whether you are a novice or a connoisseur, the truth is that with a few buying strategies there are wines for every palate, budget and lifestyle. You can find crowd-pleasing, fruit-forward and food-friendly wine at special value pricing. There is a wide world out there of wine from lesser known grape-growing regions waiting to be discovered.

A great way to join the hunt, tease your palate and find great value wines is to shop with a local wine merchant that provides wine tastings and service with the sale. Tim’s Wine Market is a fine example. It operates on a very simple model: provide service, selection and value. Another wine merchant, The Wine Room on Park Avenue in Winter Park, has a great selection of wines to sample at your own pace using the Enomatic dispensing machines. You can also join a wine club or host a wine-tasting party. The more you taste, the more you know.

Thanks to their new accessibility, many of today’s most popular value wines are coming from wine-growing regions of the Southern Hemisphere – Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia. They are providing quality wines at exceptional prices. Here are some of the better examples under $20:

  • From Chile: Montes Alpha and at about the same price, Marques de Concha y Toro. This last wine is a prime example of how in the last 20 years or so European and American investors in Chile’s wine industry have been instrumental in raising the bar by committing to advanced technology necessary to enhance winemaking techniques in South America. They have improved the vinification process while also introducing higher sanitation standards to produce world-class wines.
  • From Argentina, look for Malbec from Mendoza and Patagonia. No doubt, this exciting, youthful wine has put Argentina on the map. Try the Alamos, Altos, and Gascon varieties.
  • New Zealand’s boasts an extensive list of value wines. Some flagship examples of Sauvignon Blanc are Kim Crawford at around $15, the award-winning Nobilo Icon for $15, and Villa Maria around $16. Gibson and White Haven also are exceptional and worthy of a mention. Today New Zealand is also known for great Pinot Noirs with affordable prices. A favorite of mine is Kim Crawford.
  • From Down Under, Australia’s big, juicy Shiraz grapes are a hit in the world market and the wines pair well with an array of foods including barbecue and burgers. Some of the better known producers are d’Arenberg, Penfolds, Greg Norman, Wolf Blass and Rosemont – all at an accessible price point.

When I think about great value wine production in the U.S, numerous wine-growing regions come to mind. In California: Paso Robles, Monterey, Central Coast and the list goes on. Washington State wine has consistently supplied the market with fabulous product including Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Syrah and fantastic red blends. Check out Chateau Ste Michelle, in particular.

Renowned wine-growing regions in Europe also provide a spectacular line of products: Southern Italy with its famous Vino d’Avola; and Southern France’s Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. For years, Spain and Portugal have been experiencing the strongest growth in the value wine category. These wines are, in some cases, outpacing their competitors in Chile and Argentina. Spain’s Albarino and Rioja and Portugal’s famous Vino Verde are worthy contenders.

Fortunately or unfortunately, with the Chinese market’s big thirst for wine and the sharp increase in the export wine business, prices have risen a bit. But you can also expect to see healthier competition to produce more value wine that is widely available and affordable.

And so here’s a toast to the hunt for wine that suits your palate and brings you pleasure—with the hope that you’ll leave the wine store with a few extra dollars in your wallet for the ride home.

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