Wine writers love to use their first column of the year telling the future what to do—which wines will be hot and which ones not, what cool people will be drinking and what they should be thinking about what they’re drinking. Usually, the writers predict that the wines they’ve written about last year will suddenly be all the rage, thereby proving their self-worth.
Well, here’s my prediction: I predict you’re fed up with that nonsense.
And I’ll wager that after the holidays you may just be tired of opening special-occasion bottles to impress friends and family and are eager to return to simple wines with simple food. After looking at your credit-card bills, you may even have resolved to loosen the connection between your thirst and your wallet. (True wine lovers never resolve to cut back their consumption of wine, just how much they spend on it.)
So each week this January, I’ll focus on bargain wines that pack surprising quality for the price. These wines will help you reestablish some equilibrium—just in time to splurge for Valentine’s Day.
Let’s start with two nice reds from Castello Banfi. The Col di Sasso 2006 ($10), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, offers fruit and heft at a price rarely seen in a red from Tuscany. It’s great for burgers, pizza, and hearty pasta dishes.
Banfi’s sister winery, Vigne Regali in Piemonte, offers L’Ardì 2006 Dolcetto d’Acqui ($12). This light, juicy red features flavors of cherry and raspberry, with a happy balance that allows you to appreciate the wine’s quality without genuflecting.