Wine (and a whine)

So we wound up joining a local wine-tasting club last spring.

The way it works is: You’re told a variety to bring. You bring two bottles of the same wine, in a plain brown bag, and it’s labeled with a number. Everyone else does the same.

You try a bit of each one, and rate it. At the end, the votes are tallied, and ranked.

The winner gets to name the variety for the next get-together. The loser has to host the next one.

So we managed to lose last spring, and hosted in the summer (and were glad, because THAT time the variety was chocolate wine, and I found those universally vile). Hadn’t been to one since then partly because the next variety was a barbera, we tried a couple different bottles beforehand, and hated them all.

So last night, we somehow won - the variety was pinot noir, 15 dollars a bottle or less. We tried 4 different brands beforehand and only found 1 tolerable, so we brought that.

We can specify a variety, a region, or whatever. It has to be something that there’s sufficient variety to have enough choices for different brands. It has to be something affordable - nothing where you need to go 20-30-40 bucks a bottle (which made the pinot a challenge; hard to find something drinkable in that range).

One of the club’s organizers, who is very knowledgeable on wines and loves trying different things, caught me at the end and was really really pushing for us to select a Spanish ropa (? roja?) as that’s one the club hasn’t done yet. Yeah, fine, but guess what: WE won. She can choose the next time THEY win (which is reasonably frequent, I gather). (this is the whine portion of the post)

I’m waiting to hear back on others they’ve done in the past couple years. I know only the ones in the past 10 or so months: Shiraz / syrah, rosé, barbera, chocolate…

I agree with you that she can choose next time they win, unless you want to do the Spanish ropa or whatever. I can’t give you any advice on what to choose either. The only wines I like are Moscatos and most serious wine drinkers I know turn their noses up at them.

Wines under $5/bottle

Rioja. Not a bad choice, but I totally agree that she can pick it when it’s her turn.

Personally, I’d go for zinfandels, either from the Sierra foothills or Paso Robles.

Chocolate wine?!?! shudder

Are there really THAT many varieties of chocolate wine? I’ve only seen one, and I wish I could unsee it.

Malbecs are fairly popular these days.

Or, if you really want to widen the choices, maybe you could choose “red blend”?

Could you do something like “South American Wines,” rather than a specific wine type? As a fan of Krug and Caymus Cabernets who is unable to spend $50 on a bottle of wine each week, I’ve started to explore Chilean Cabernet, as they are supposed to be good and cheap!

Or you could go with sparkling wines and show up with a killer Cremant or Cava.

I’ve been listening to Wine for Normal People and it’s giving me ideas . . .

Good info, thanks. And yes, since the OP won the event, they get to pick the wine.

Very good Prosecco can be had in your price range.

We can indeed do something like “wines from xxx region”.

I too was stunned at the number of chocolate wines out there. They aren’t made by fermenting chocolate (phew!) - all but one of the ones that was brought was a regular red (or in one case white) wine that had some kind of infusion of chocolate flavoring. So you’d sip the red wine, and get just a hint of something chocolate almost more as an aftertaste. The one that I liked the best was a white that was a bit on the sweet side, but the chocolate aftertaste was particularly nasty on that one.

One bottle however was more like Bailey’s Irish Cream - wasn’t a translucent thing. I didn’t like that at all.

Moscado is very popular right now and is not expensive. It is also sweet enough to attract non wine drinkers

The whole idea of chocolate wine just makes my skin crWL

I tried some a couple of years ago. Not my favourite.

My non-drinker coworker loved it though. I like dark chocolate, red wine, hot peppers, and savoury. She likes milk chocolate, white wine (when she drinks any alcohol), not hot spices, and sweet. I have some Almond Roca Cream (Christmas gift) that I haven’t tried yet. I think the coworker liked hers.