Wine for beginners, A Guide: PICKS

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Looking for Zinfandel, the perfect date night bottle, according to Fine Wine & Good Spirits Retail Wine Specialist Kirt Heintzelman? 

Kirt says women “love Zinfandel … A LOT. They might not even know it, but they’re buying Zinfandel left and right. It’s the basis of cutesy named blends such as Menage a Trois, Apothic Red, The Crush, Essential Red, Summation and Dialed In. Trust me – your date probably digs Zinfandel whether she knows it or not.”

If you’re looking for something to pick up at your local store, Kirt recommends Ravenswood, Rosenblum or Cline Ancient Vine (all for $12-$15.99) but if you search a little harder (meaning, at your Premium Collection Store) try to find Seghesio Sonoma ($19.99) or either of these two Chairman’s Selections: Lillium ($17.99) or Shannon Ridge ($9.99).

Josh Hull says Chianti or other Sangiovese-based Tuscan wines are ideal for ordering at dinner, or bring a bottle home of Oregon Pinot Noir. His current picks:

  • Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2011 ($24.99) – Code 43904 – Available in select Premium Collection stores
  • Elk Cove Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2013 ($25.99) – Code 42273 – Available in select Premium Collection stores

Dispelling the myth that a good bottle of wine has to cost more than $50, Josh’s under $50 pick is “a dense, structured and black-fruited Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend from the Columbia Valley in Washington.” Look for:

  • Board Track Racer The Chief Red Blend Columbia Valley 2012 ($26.99) – Code 42625 – Available at select Premium Collection stores

For an ideal wine to bring to a party, Kirt says vinho verde all the way. 

  • Try Gazela or Aveleda, which you should be able to find at any Fine Wine & Good Spirits store in the entire state. If you’re at your local Premium Collection Store, check out Arca Nova or Broadbent, both $9.99 or less.

Josh says to look for fruit forward (but dry) reds, a barely off-dry Riesling or a dry rosé to please the most palates. His picks:

  • Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot 62 California ($12.99) – Code 42743 – Available at select Premium Collection stores
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle – Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling Columbia Valley 2013 ($21.99) – Code39524 – Available at select Premium Collection stores
  • Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rosé Pays d’Oc 2014 ($12.99) – Code 47536 – Available at select Premium Collection stores

Impress your guests by stocking bottles of Austrain Zweigelt or Blaufrankisch, Kirt says. You’ll have to find a Premium Collection Store for these. 

  • Try one of these two grapes from Rosi Schuster, Heinrich, Feiler Artinger or  Sattler (be prepared to fork over around $20 for any of these)
  • Or, try the Anton Bauer ($11.99) if you still want some green left over for some beer and hot wings on Monday night.

Josh says a red Chateauneuf-du-Pape from France will pleasantly surprise guests. His pick is a Chairman’s Selection that arrived at our Premium Collection stores recently. It comes from the highly acclaimed 2009 vintage and is quoted at $68, but their Chairman’s Selection pricing brings you an incredible wine for under $40 retail.

“If you can pronounce the name of this wine correctly, you are sure to impress your guests almost as much as the wine will!” says Josh.

  • Domaine Monpertuis Chateauneuf du Pape Secret de Gabriel 2009 ($39.99) – Code 33779 – Chairman’s Selection – Available at select Premium Collection stores

If you’ve never tried wines from ___________, now’s the time.

Josh and Kirt agree it’s all about Portugal. Josh’s current picks include: 

  • Quinta do Portal Mural Reserva Douro 2011 ($11.99) – Code 44061 – Available at select Premium Collection stores
  • Arca Nova Vinho Verde 2014 ($8.99) – Code 43961 – Available at select Premium Collection stores

Read more about choosing wines from Josh, Kirt — plus a woman’s perspective, from Lauren Gutshall — on PennLive.

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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