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A Sommelier’s Tips for Choosing Fabulously Frugal Wine

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Fabulously frugal wine, Back Label Wine, Patrick Watson

When it comes to wine, more expensive does not necessarily mean better quality. There are plenty of expensive wines that aren’t that great and there are others that are phenomenal. The same is true about inexpensive wine. You can find some great cheap wines and some terrible ones. This is good news! It’s possible to drink great wine without paying the big price tag!

That’s where Patrick comes in. Patrick is a talented sommelier, wine educator and owner of Back Label Wine Merchants. This past Friday a group of  friends and wine lovers got together at Back Label to learn Patrick’s best tips and tricks for choosing fabulously frugal wines. Fabulously frugal wines are wines that taste 2x the price! Sounds pretty great right?

Here are Patrick’s 6 fabulously frugal wine picks with the accompanying tip or trick for choosing this fabulous frugal wine.

1. The 1 liter bottle trick.  Patrick pointed out that most wines come in 750 ml bottles but Austrian wines often come in 1 liter bottles for very little additional cost. It’s almost like having an extra free glass of wine! That’s pretty fabulously frugal if you ask me.

This Gruner Veltliner was a refreshing crowd favorite: 2014 Bauer Gruner Veltliner Liter (Nierderosterreich, Austria $15).

2. Organic doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. When we hear the word “organic” we might immediately think it will be pricey. Patrick added this $13 organic Chenin Blanc to the list to show us that organic doesn’t have to mean expensive.

If you want the benefits of an organic wine at a great price, check out this delicious 2015 Joostenberg Chenin Blanc (Muldersvlei, South Africa $13).

3. Location is everything. In wine-making, there are often strict regional boundaries. If grapes are grown outside of those boundaries, a wine will have a completely different name or not qualify to be called a certain type of wine. We can use these rules to our benefit! Patrick showed us a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley that was a few kilometers away from Sancerre. Because it can’t be officially called Sancerre, you get a much more favorable price for very similar qualities in the wine.

Patrick called this wine “poor man’s Sancerre.” If you love Sancerre, you will love this wine (and the price): 2014 L’Arpent Sauvignon Blanc (Loire Valley, France $10).

4. Look for the wall flower. Patrick explained that many incredible winemakers offer wines at various prices. While it might be tempting to go for their creme de la creme, there are often lower priced wines that fly under the radar. The “Klee” Pinot Noir is a great example. It’s made by the Roots Wine Company that has fabulous wines costing upwards of $200. The Klee is the lower cost version because they might use a blend from multiple vineyards or use leftover grapes. You get great wine from the same vineyards and same winemaker but at a better price.

If you are sick of drinking bad Pinot Noir, check out the 2014 Klee Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon $23).

5. Leave the big names behind. Just because it’s dubbed a “country wine” doesn’t mean it can’t be absolutely delicious. What’s in a name anyway? Patrick shared this gem of a blend with us that was many of our favorites!

A delicious red wine for an unbeatable price: 2014 Domaine Faillenc (Corbieres, France $15).

6. Ask the experts. Sometimes you just have to ask the wine experts for their help. If you’ve spent $50 on cabs that left much to desire, you are in for a treat. Patrick shared this Washington cab with us that offers structure, fruit, acid and a great price!

Cab lovers check out the 2014 Grapesmith Cabernet Sauvignon (Colombia Valley, Washington $15).

If you are in New York City and are interested in joining for the next Fabulously Frugal wine event, just shoot me a note. The more the merrier!

Also, don’t forget that you can enjoy all six of these delicious wines (free) when you register for any one of my classes! This offer expires this Friday, March 18th.

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