Use this key to help navigate through your wine purchase.

Wine Key

(S) Sweet; (D) Dry; (₵) Under 12; ($) 13-30; (!) 31-60; (^) 61-95; (#) over 100; (*) cellar worthy

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc – (D,$)

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc

This one is a very good short notice wine. Easily available, not too dry, works well with most food dishes and it won’t break you.  It comes in close to $20, unless it gets really popular. That’s when they raise the price. The winery itself is a safe bet if you are short on time. You can find equal taste for half the price…but you will have to look and ask questions.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc – (S,D,$)

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc

This is what can happen to a good wine when they lose their marketing department. There was a time when CB was getting over $50 per bottle. But their main winemaker left, other vineyards got better and people realized that they didn’t have to pay as much to get this quality. They used to make it in limited quantities. Once I had to pick up a case of it during one of my trips to Seattle. Now you can find it at the $30 mark and it’s more available. I have even seen it as low as $17. But that only lasted a week. If you bring this to a dinner party, you WILL make new friends! You get the sweetness from the fruit, not a lot of sugar. It is soooo good with fish! I like it with risotto too.

Oyster Bay – (D,₵,*)

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc

Okay, so I know you are asking, “How can something so inexpensive, be cellar worthy?” Oyster Bay is really Cloudy Bay’s more attractive friend. It’s less expensive, easier to find and it tastes better. It has quite a bit of stone fruit. It has a hint of almond and butter. It’s almost a Chardonnay…just don’t tell it that. I have seen OB as low as $9 at Wine Discount Center in Chicago. In my recipes that call for white wine, this is one of my white wines.

Hogue Late Harvest Riesling – (S,₵)

Hogue Late Harvest Riesling

I have to admit, this is the first wine I give to Moscato drinkers, so they can break the cycle. Yes, it is sweet, but it has some other qualities about it that I like. For those that like sweet wines, you can enjoy this and still taste your food. It has a nice use of tangerine and apricot. I had it with sushi and became a fan. I think it was some of the mineral aspects.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling – (S,$)

Kung Fu Girl Riesling

This little gem was brought to my attention by my sister in Seattle. It’s straight forward like most Rieslings but it gives you a little bit more. This wine is the one I add to my barbecue sauces.  It’s also a great choice for stewed chicken. It’s excellent for Pan-Asian shrimp with soba noodles. It blends very well with salads & especially pastas with sun-dried tomatoes. You will taste some pears, limes and it’s very floral. If you decide to make my white sangria, this is your wine.

Teillery Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Teillery Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Truly a pleasing and very comfortable wine. The value is unmatched. It works well with braised meats and really rich dishes with tomatoes. I also like that fact that the finish wasn’t too long, but it invites you to take another sip. We should see easy availability in late Dec 2010 with regular access 1qtr 2011.

Teillery Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Teillery Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Find this bottle and be very careful. This is the type of wine that will make you say goodbye to BAD wine forever. With no effort at all, you can enjoy a very crisp and fruit driven wine. The access will be tough until about mid-Dec 2010, but when it arrives get it early and often. And did I mention is all organic! I love this wine

Cantaluna Chardonnay 2007

Cantaluna Chardonnay 2007

It’s rare that I taste a wine that changes me. It the past 7 years I have probably consumed traditional Chardonnay, four times. I do not like it. Twice, I had a “unoaked” chardonnay. I found it to be tolerable. Cantaluna hit me out of nowhere. At the tasting, I was more interested in the Sauv Blanc & the Cab. Much to my surprise, I tasted a wine with just a hint of oak, a bit of butter and full mouthy feel. The apricot is there. I wouldn’t be shocked if there was some papaya in it for good measure. Needless to say, it has space in my regular rotation. I’m braising with it. It’s a definite in sauces and even vinaigrettes! I have worked with a distributor to make it available now in Chicago. I have seen it as low as $8, when they could easily get $17 for it. Yes, Cantaluna brought me back to chardonnay…and I thank you for it!

El Aromo – Private Reserve Carmenère 2006

El Aromo - Private Reserve Carmenère 2006

Here is the red you have been that you have been waiting for to show off your wine skills. It has real nice red berry and some nice smoke. Don’t let the grape name intimidate you. The “carmenère” grape used to be quite prevalent in France. Somehow it just disappeared. I don’t really know how that happens but it did. I tasted this wine and immediately wanted “Coq Au Vin” or Beef Short Ribs w/ Sun-dried Tomato Gravy & Parsnip Puree. But I digress. The other thing I liked about this wine is that it’s sooooo very affordable. And if you bring it to a dinner party, it will hold its own against ANY of the overpriced Pinot’s, that you know someone will brag about.