How to Find Your House Wine

We had quite the weekend here at the shop.  In the space of about 36 hours, we sold through this entire mountain of juicy, easy-drinking Garnacha from Bodegas Borsao.

borsao garnacha

When a promotion is this successful, it tells us something.  One, that you’re looking for good value, and two, that you’re looking for something to stock up on for everyday meals and gatherings.  In other words, a house wine.  We’ll  have the Borsao Garnacha back in stock in about a month, but there’s no need to wait until then to find your next house wine.

As much fun as it is to explore the wide, wonderful world of wine, there’s something to be said for familiarity.  Like your favorite meatloaf, a glass of your favorite simple, everyday wine can be a comforting end to the day.  Having a good supply of everyday wine you know you like can also be a blessing when unexpected guests drop by, giving you one less thing to think about.  Plus, it makes you seem like one of those casually sophisticated people you read about in magazines, who always have the perfect little wine to pull out, along with an imported tapenade that would make Ina Garten proud.

But with all of the wine out there, how do you choose your personal ‘go to’ wine for everyday meals and gatherings?

Food Matters.  The first thing to consider is the kind of food you eat.  Do you cook a lot of stick-to-your-ribs classic dishes?  Look for fuller-bodied reds as your go-to.  Asian food?  Consider an aromatic varietal like Riesling.  Lighter, vegetable-centric dishes?  Try a nice, crisp Italian white.  While achieving wine and food pairing nirvana probably isn’t possible (or even really desirable) on a Tuesday, you can match to the general style of the food you eat the most.

…Except When it Doesn’t.  That said, you should also consider how you drink wine.  If you generally drink wine only with food, then some basic wine and food pairing rules apply.  But if having a glass by itself while you’re watching The Daily Show is more your speed, then look for fuller-bodied whites like California Chardonnay or Viognier, and fruitier, lusher reds without a lot of tannin or structure like a Garnacha from Spain.

Stock Up.  Whichever style of wine you choose, buying in volume is always the way to go.  We offer a 10% discount on full cases (unless a wine is already on sale), and we frequently offer specials on full cases of good-value wines.  In fact, people are often surprised when we tell them that the under $12 category is the one we work the hardest on when it comes to tasting and choosing what’s on the shelves, but it’s really true.  For every inexpensive Chardonnay you see on the shelf, rest assured that we tasted and rejected at least 20 others.  There’s a lot of disappointing wine out there, and some days we feel as though we’ve tasted it all!

Location, Location, Location.  One important thing to keep in mind is that certain regions do value better than others: Spain, Chile, and the south of France are all good places to look for wines that give you a great bang for your buck.  Regions that are small and famous, like the Napa Valley and Burgundy, are regions where you get what you pay for, with a few rare exceptions.  Another thing to keep in mind is that oak really drives up the cost of wine.  A new French oak barrel is well over $1000!  Because of this, whites and reds that are unoaked tend to be more reliable values.  If you’re stuck at a wedding reception or happy hour with limited choices, go with the Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio – it probably won’t change your life, but it won’t be badly doctored with oak chips, either.

And don’t forget to keep a bottle or two of inexpensive sparkling in the fridge – when it’s already chilled, you’ll be surprised by how often you find reasons to celebrate!


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