Cheap Good Wines Top Wines for $5.99 (or Less) Who says a bottle of wine has to be pricey in order to be good? AOL Food decided to search for praiseworthy wines that come in at the bargain basement prices of $5.99 or less. As we swirled and sipped from 34 bottles that met our price limit, we discovered five bottles of singular merit. We promise that these bottles will please your friends without breaking the bank -- or making you feel like a scrooge! In order of preference: 1. Trader Joe's Coastal Cabernet - $5 Wine Attributes: The plump fruit flavors of this California wine culminate in a long finish of berries and currants, making it the perfect choice to accompany steaks and beef tenderloin or a cheese tray of brie, aged cheddar and gorgonzola. 2. Amaicha Torrontes - $5 Wine Attributes: More similar to Viognier or Gewurztraminer than to Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, Torrontes provides a refreshing contrast to spicy foods or Asian flavors. Try it also with shrimp or mild Swiss and smoked gouda cheeses. 3. Banrock Station Shiraz - $6 Wine Attributes: Although softer and sweeter than other Shiraz wines on the market, its lush cherry and plum notes are laced with a hint of peppery spice that will match heavier dishes like rack of lamb or grilled meats. 4. Barefoot California Merlot - $6 Wine Attributes: Although enjoyable on its own, this Californian Merlot will complement a wide array of dishes, including roast pork loin, spaghetti bolognese or even a decadent chocolate dessert. 5. Barefoot California Chardonnay - $6 Wine Attributes: This lighter alternative offers a surprisingly complex, buttery structure for such a low price. The underlying acidity will stand up to rich cream sauces. Serve it alongside crab cakes or roast chicken.
Everything's Coming Up RosĂŠs Women & Wine loves rosĂŠ wines for late spring and summer. Made with red wine grapes fermented on the skins for only a short time, they exhibit red-wine flavors with a light, white-wine personality. Serve chilled with seafood, strawberries and barbecue. Centine RosĂŠ - 2005 - $10 A carnation-pink charmer from made with a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Savor its demurely floral aromas, wild berry flavors and lingering finish. Bring on the cold pasta salad.
Domaines Ott Chateau de Selle Rosé Coeur de Grain - 2005 - $36 The romance of Provence in a curvy Provençal bottle: More expensive than your everyday rosé, this harmonious blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Cinsault, from a respected French vintner, delivers apricot and grapefruit flavors with a bit of spice. Yummy with marinated salmon, sweet-andsour pork, or scallops. Fiddlehead Rosé 'Pink Fiddle' - 2006 Santa Rita Hills - $16 A rosé with attitude: From one of our favorite vineyards in Santa Barbara's "Sideways" country, Kathy Joseph's rosé is made with hand-picked Pinot Noir grapes. The color of a California sunset, this lively, fruit-forward wine is perfect for lazy brunches or a day at the beach. Muga Rosé Spain - 2006 Rioja - $12 This salmon-pink beauty, a blend of Grenache and (only-in-Spain) Macabeo and Temprani grapes delivers tropical fruit aromas and flavors, a whisper of acidity and a long, honeyed finish. Perfect with paella, salad or chips and dip: Olé! 2005 SoloRosa Rosé - $15 From the one California winery that produces only rosé wines. A blend of Napa Sangiovese and Merlot, SoloRosa is bone dry, brimming with cherry and berry flavors and tempered by a zippy acidity and a hint of toastiness. Good with everything from Mexican to Moroccan.
Think Outside The Box(ed Wine) Myths, Truths, and Shopping Suggestions Boxed wines of the past had a deservedly bad rap, but new packaging techniques have enticed makers of excellent vino to get juiced about wine boxes. We sipped and swirled over a dozen of 'em, so keep clicking to get our top picks (and a list of ones to skip) and one heck of a lot of reasons why we think great boxed wine is the wave of the future. Delicato Bota Box Chardonnay - 2005 (California) Verdict: We liked it. Tasting notes: Great floral smell, easy-drinking, a little bit dry Tip: Once bottled wine has been opened, it's got a 4 day shelf life before it starts to really oxidize and turn. Because the majority of boxed wines are built with a bag-in-box system that doesn't allow air in, it'll stay fresh for at least 4 weeks. Three Thieves Bandit Pinot Grigio - 2004 (California) Verdict: Our favorite of the white wines Tasting notes: Light, herbal, kiwi Tip: Because boxed wine stays fresh for a significant amount of time, it's easy to keep a box on hand in the cupboard or fridge so you can pour a single glass whenever you'd like -- without having to go to the fuss of opening a new bottle or worrying about waste. It's perfect for those drinking a glass a day for a healthy heart. Washington Hills Columbia Valley Chardonnay - 2004 (Washington State) Verdict: We loved it. Tasting notes: Citrusy, grassy, fresh, slightly chalky
Tip: While a few wines come in 1 or 5 liter boxes, the box you'll usually find on the shelves is the "3 liter cask," which holds the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine. Banrock Station Chardonnay - 2006 (SE Australia) Verdict: We loved it. Tasting notes: Peachy, vanilla, not too oaky Tip: The 3-liter boxes we sampled cost between $11.99 and $29.99, with the average being around $16.99. While the high end of that range might be a bit more than you might wish to spend on an everyday bottle, remember -- you're actually getting 4 bottles worth. Even at $7.50 a bottle, that's still a steal. Three Thieves Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon - 2002 (California) Verdict: Our favorite of the red wines (tie) Tasting notes: Buttery, blackberries, also comes in a 4-pack of single-serving boxes Tip: Even if you're short a home wine rack, there's no need to worry, 'cause the flat box pack packaging makes it as easy to store as cereal. Cinta Venezie Pinot Noir - Non-Vintage (Italy) Verdict: We liked it Tasting notes: A bit astringent, complex Tip: Not so crafty with a corkscrew? No worries, 'cause the tab or cap is built right in-- eliminating the risk of crumbled cork and the resulting air exposure which taints the taste. Taps and screwcaps might have seemed tacky once upon a time, but more and more great winemakers are sealing the deal. Chateau de Pena Cuvee de Pena Vin de Pays - 2004 (France) Verdict: Our favorite of the red wines (tie) Tasting notes: Spicy, hint of blackberries, complex Tip: If your friends seem resistant to the idea of boxed wine, try pouring in another room, and bringing in the glasses on a tray. Only after they've ooh-ed and ahh-ed, let 'em in on what it is they've been drinking. Great wines can come in square packages. French Rabbit Merlot - 2004 (France) Verdict: We liked it Tasting notes: Cherries, spicy chocolate Tip: Because boxed wine has been kept under such tight wraps, aerobically speaking, make sure to give it a big ol' swirl in the glass, let it sit for a minute to fully open up and aerate, or dig out that decanter from the back of the cabinet. Thirsty Lizard Shiraz - 2005 (SE Australia) Verdict: We liked it very much Tasting Notes: Plummy, jammy, easy-drinking Tip: While this might all seem like a packaging revolution, folks in Europe and Australia have known and enjoyed the benefits of boxed booze for a long time. It's the perfect no-fuss way to enjoy the sorts of wines that are best enjoyed while they're still young and fresh -- no wine cellar required. VRAC Cotes du Rhone - 2006 (France) Verdict: We liked it Tasting Notes: Strawberries & raspberries, a little spicy Tip: If you're a fan of camping, sailing, picnicking, tailgating or otherwise frolicking far from home,
boxed wines are the ideal no-shatter, lighter-weight take-along -- and many of them even boast a builtin handle for easy toting. Also Worth Sipping: - Killer Juice Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 - Dtour C么tes-du-Rh么ne 2004 - Black Box Sonoma County Merlot 2005 Definitely Skip: - Franzia Old World Classics Burgundy (though admittedly not as awful as we remember) - Hardy's Chardonnay 2005 - Three Thieves Bandit White Zinfandel 2005 - Peter Vella White Grenache - Blue Nun Riesling (but not so bad for cooking)