Ok, I admit it. I know next to nothing about wine and simply pick my poison based on whether or not the name appeals to me (Velvet Devil? No, thank you. Fat Bastard? Um, I think not. Cakebread? Le Crema? Why, of course there’s room for you in my cart.) And if the label is aesthetically pleasing to me, that’s also a plus. (Vinho Verde has a lovely flowery label). I’ll reach for Clos Du Bois (no clue what that means, but I like the sound of it) over Naked Grape or Middle Sister (who wants to associate with shameful attention seekers!) every time. And it doesn’t stop there. I’m also inclined to choose a screw cap simply for the ease of not having to pull out the corkscrew, just in case I’m in no mood to wrestle with that bottle later!
I recently discovered that I like rosé, which surprised me based on my not-so-fond college memories of a certain White Zinfandel. This led me to rethink my current method of picking wines. Choosing wine should be less about what is popular or looks pretty and more about what actually tastes good. So in an effort to better educate myself and perhaps, my palate, I visited Chandler Busby, owner of Neighborhood Hops and Vine in Crestline Park.
Chandler is a wealth of knowledge and an all around great guy. When I admitted my affinity for low priced, pretty labeled chardonnays, he kindly steered me in a better direction.
“I hate poorly made Chardonnays. At the art show or wedding I really just prefer water. Cheap Chard is the worst value in the wine world because a manufacturer can add sugar and oak flavor to mask the most obvious flaws of an agricultural concoction that consists of 75% or so Chardonnay stuff. God knows what’s in these wine-like products. Customers have come to hate the grape, arguably the greatest white wine varietal, and tell me to show them ABC: Anything but Chardonnay. If you buy Chardonnay, you really have to get over the $9.99 price point. Chardonnay starts getting real at $12-15. Wanna spend less? Get something else! Sauvignon Blanc from Chile does great and Rayun is only $7.99. A liter of Gruner Veltliner averages out to be $10. Look for Terry Theise selections like Berger at $12.99. Paradou Viognier is heavy-bodied like Chard and delicious, $10.99. Cuvee St Vincent $10.99 is a bone-dry, leesy French Muscadet that makes cheap Chard look ridiculous.”
Here are Chandler’s current top picks:
Octave Vinho Verde, $7.99
Le Paradou Viognier, $10.99
Elicio French White blend, $9.99
Cuvee St Vincent, $10.99
Ballade French Sauvignon, $10.99
Latue Spanish White, $9.99
Bacchus Cuvee German Franken, $10.99
Le Macine Pinot Grigio, $9.99
All of these are great hot weather wines, perfect for a picnic or wine-ding down on the porch. We chose to focus on whites, but if red is more to your liking, Chandler has plenty of great options for that, too.
And, as an added bonus to SB readers, print this article or show it on your mobile device and receive a 15% discount off of mixed cases in the month of June!