Trader Joe’s Wines: Reds

Trader-Joe's-wines-3-reds

This is the second in my Trader Joe’s wine tasting series (see my reviews of TJ’s whites). For this round I chose seven reds based first on price ($12.99 and under) and second on origin: a mix of domestic, French, and Italian. Last night I lined ’em up and went to town. Here are a couple of take-home points and some recommendations:

Point No. 1

You’ll have a better chance of drinking superior wine at a low price if you choose imported (France and Italy) over domestic. I was pleased and a bit surprised to find a handful of imported wines that are made in a traditional style and offered at great prices—they actually taste like the wine should, without too much mucking about, and that’s always a good start. These traditional wine styles result in the best pairings of wines with food.

Point No. 2

For the wines noted below, do yourself a favor and serve them on the colder side. Cellar temperature is 55 and most of these red wines taste better when you chill them a bit.

And now, my favorite of the bunch:

Perrin-Reserve-2009-Cotes-du-Rhone

Perrin Reserve 2009 Cotes du Rhone ($6.99)

This is an ideal party wine—screw-off cap (you know how I love that), cheap as heck at $6.99 a bottle and totally chuggable. This easy drinking wine made mostly from grenache grapes is the entry-level wine offered by Chateau Beaucastel; think of it as the wine equivalent of Missoni designing for Target.

A few more worth noting:

Chateau Roudier 2006 Montagne-Saint-Emilion ($12.99)

This Bordeaux blend made mostly of merlot would be a good match for a nice winter meal. Call me crazy, but I love a thick juicy steak with Bordeaux.

La Loggia 2006 Barbaresco ($12.99)

Light and a little fruity, the way nebiolo should be—it’s the Italian equivalent of the French Burgundy or pinot noir grape. It has an earthiness that would make it a great match for mushroom-based dishes; it would have been a good pairing with the chanterelle risotto I made last week (sorry, never quite got around to blogging about it, but it was delish).

Il Tarocco 2008 Chianti Classico ($8.99)

Good pizza wine, easy, drinkable, would go well with most tomato-based dishes.

Next time I’ll try some sparkling wines, just in time to stock up for New Year’s Eve.

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