Happy New Year, Now What To Drink?

Originally published in “West Hawaii Today” on January 4, 2018.

As a new year begins, and resolutions are being considered, why not opt to save a few pennies on your nightly bottle of wine, without sacrificing quality of course. Here are a few selections to find as we start a new year, all under $18 for 2018.

Segura Viudas Vineyards in Spain

Methode Champanoise sparkling wine for under $20 can be tricky, as the traditional method, as they do in Champagne with the second fermentation to create the bubbles happening in the bottle, can be an expensive process. However, Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, made in the traditional method from Spanish grapes is the ideal affordable go to, costing right around $10 a bottle. Very dry, bright and crisp, a perfect aperitif wine to start a celebration. Another wine with effervescence, incredibly low alcohol and the impressive ability to pair with Hawaii’s seafood and shellfish consider Vinho Verde from Portugal. A blend of varieties, like Albarino, Azal, and Trocadero, creating a white flower, soft herbs, and citrus flavor profile. Also quite affordable, usually under $10 a bottle.

Affordable, high-quality white wine options are sometimes easier to find than red, as often stainless steel fermentation is used, and either bottled quickly or aged in neutral oak, costing less than aging in new. But, you still want quality in each of those wines and taste. Consider something non-traditional, like a Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc region of Southern France, with briny, salinity from the Mediterranean and a sunshine filled palate. Or white flower and orange blossom filled Moschofilero from Greece, Boutari makes an excellent selection. For more traditional international variety selections Decoy Wines from Duckhorn, Hahn S.L.H., J Lohr and Edna Valley, always deliver, especially their Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Sunset over the Andes

For red wine selections, look to Argentina, Spain, Chile, Italy and Portugal for hearty varieties that pair well with braised or grilled beef and pork. Malbec from Mendoza, layered with Morello cherry and sweet spice, with a backbone of freshness and acidity thanks to high altitude vineyards in the Andes Mountains, showcase the unique terroir of the country in wine from Alamos, Catena, and Crios. Juicy, red fruit, dark chocolate, and spice filled Spanish Tempranillo, the wine of Rioja, melds perfectly with braised beef flavors from producers like Martin Codax and Muga. Portugal continues to impress with their robust, tannin-filled red wines made from the grapes that are traditionally blended to produce port, like Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, and Tinto Cão. Seek out selections from the Douro Valley or Alentejo from producers like Herdade Esporao and Prat & Symington.

Finding premium Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley will be difficult for under $18. However, other California regions like Paso Robles and Livermore prove the state’s ability to produce quality Cab, particularly from Wente, Concannon, Justin, Lesse Fitch, and True Myth. Washington State also thrives in crafting stellar Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Syrah, Merlot, and Riesling. Two of the oldest in the state, Columbia Winery, and Chateau Ste. Michelle, deliver varietally correct options for their incredible price point, usually under $15 a bottle.


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