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How To Buy A Great, Inexpensive Bottle Of Wine For Valentine’s Day

It’s easy! Here’s a foolproof plan that will work even if you know nothing about wine.

Obviously this holiday calls for more than Two-Buck Chuck — for a bottle of wine you’ll want to linger over and enjoy. But, ugh, so much pressure! If you don’t want to spend a fortune (and two bottles is obviously better than one) and you have a hard time picking out a “good wine,” keep reading.

3. We are going to make this easy.

4. First, figure out what you’ll be eating.

5. Then, before you head to the wine store, try to remember the name of a wine you’ve enjoyed in the past. (Not essential/OK if you can’t remember one.)

In the future, if you like a bottle that’s served to you at a restaurant or by some friends, snap a photo with a smartphone so you’ll remember the name.

7. Next, track down a *good* wine store. Good doesn’t mean big.

HOW TO FIND A GOOD WINE STORE NEAR YOU

1. Check Yelp for the spots that have the most reviews.
2. Call ahead and see if they are nice and helpful over the phone.
3. Just because it’s larger, doesn’t mean it’s better. Smaller stores often are more diligent about what they carry, and help you find something you’ll like. But sometimes big stores have a great selection too, just make sure someone knowledgeable is on hand.

Once you get to the store, tell the folks at the wine store what you’ll be eating, the name of a wine you’ve liked in the past, and what your budget is. They should steer you in the right direction.

9. If the store’s staff isn’t helpful, ask for a bottle of one of these 7 types of wine.


According to Kristie Petrullo, a former Sommelier at NYC’s Jean-Georges restaurant who now owns a wine consulting business, bottles in these categories are almost always good — and inexpensive.

For example, there are many different bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, but if you ask for a Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre in the Loire Valley, you’re going to get something good that isn’t too expensive.

So here’s what you ask for:

10. 1. The Sensual White: A Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre in the Loire Valley

Sauvignon Blanc (the grape)
Sancerre (the appellation — or wine growing area)
Loire Valley (the region)

This white is mineral-driven but maintains some fruit so it’s not too dry.

GOOD WITH
Fish or cheese

A FEW GOOD BOTTLES
#1 (Domaine Sautereau Sancerre Cotes de Reigny, Loire, France): around $22. Find more information here.
#2 (Lucien Crochet Sancerre, Loire, France): around $28. Find more information here.
#3 (Gerard Boulay Sancerre Chavignol, Loire, France): around $28. Find more information here.
# 4 (Domaine de la Perriere Sancerre Blanc, Loire, France): around $22. Find more information here.

12. 2. The Crowd Pleaser: Gruner Veltliner from Austria

Gruner Veltliner (the grape)
Austria (the country)

This is a super popular wine, easy to drink and great with food — especially spicy food.

GOOD WITH
Lobster, pork, or sausage

A FEW GOOD BOTTLES
#1 (2011 Weingut Meinhard Forstreiter Grooner Gruner Veltliner Qualitatswein, Kremstal, Austria): about $10. Find more information here.
#2 (2010 Weingut Laurenz V. ‘Laurenz und Sophie Singing’ Gruner Veltliner, Kremstal, Austria): about $19. Find more information here.
#3 (2008 Hesketh Wine Company Perfect Stranger Gruner Veltliner, Kremstal, Austria): about $14. Find more information here
#4 (2009 Weingut Wieninger Herrenholz Gruner Veltliner, Vienna, Austria): about $28. Find more information here.

14. 3. The Crisp White: Chardonnay from Chablis

Chardonnay (the grape)
Chablis (the appellation — the wine growing area)
Burgundy (the region)

These Chardonnays are crisp and dry because they’re typically not aged in oak barrells, making them less buttery than typical California Chardonnays you may have had.

GOOD WITH
Oysters

A FEW GOOD BOTTLES
#1 (2007 Jean-Paul & Benoit Droin Chablis, Burgundy, France) $22. Find more information here.
#2 (Domaine Laroche Chablis, Burgundy, France) $22. Find more information here.
#3 (2010 Gilbert Picq et ses Fils Chablis, Burgundy, France) $20. Find more information here.
#4 (Domaine Jean-Pierre Grossot Chablis, Burgundy, France) $20. Find more information here.

16. 4. The Juicy And Full Red: Blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre from the Cotes du Rhone

Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre (the grapes)
Cotes du Rhône (the appellation — the wine growing area)
Rhône (the region)

This is a tasty and balanced blend of fruit and earth.

GOOD WITH
Duck

A FEW GOOD BOTTLES
#1 (2009 Alain Jaume & Fils Domaine Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone Les Champauvins, Rhone, France) about $19. Find more information
here.
#2 (2009 Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone Reserve, Rhone, France) about $16. Find more information here.
#3 (2007 Jean-Louis Chave Selection Cotes du Rhone Mon Coeur, Rhone, France) about $22. Find more information here.
#4 (2006 Chateau de Montfaucon Baron Louis Cotes du Rhone, France) about $22. Find more information here.

18. 5. The Dark And Sexy Red: Nero d’Avola from Sicily

Nero d’Avola (the grape)
Sicily (the region)

Like the bottles from Cotes de Rhone, these are well balanced with fruit and earth.They are characterized by their dark color.

GOOD WITH
Pasta with lamb ragu

A FEW GOOD BOTTLES
#1 (2010 Cusumano Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT, Sicily, Italy) about $11. Find more information here.
#2 (2008 Tasca d’Almerita Tenuta Regaleali ‘Rosso del Conte’ Contea di Sclafani, Sicily, Italy) about $13. Find more informaiton here.
#3 (2008 Marchesi Mazzei Zisola Sicilia IGT, Sicily, Italy) about $25. Find more information here.
#4 (2011 Cantine Colosi Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT, Sicily, Italy) about $13. Find more information here.

20. 6. The Fruity Red: Rosso di Montalcino

Sangiovese (the grape)
Tuscany (the region)

Rosso di Montalcino comes from the same legally dilineated area as its more famous and expensive big sister, Brunello di Montalcino. Adorably nicknamed “Baby Brunellos,” Rossos are less aged and typically lighter and fresher with less tannin and more fruit than Brunellos.

GOOD WITH
Veal or Sweetbreads

A FEW GOOD BOTTLES
#1 (2011 Mocali Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy) about $19. Find more information here.
#2 (2010 Sesta di Sopra Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy) $21. Find more information here.
#3 (2008 Argiano Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy) $22. Find more informaiton here.
#4 (2007 Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy) $25. Find more information here.

22. 7. The Sparkler: Cremant de Bourgogne

Chardonnay (the grape)
Burgundy (the region)

This inexpensive sparkling white is made the same way as Champagne, but in an area outside the region of Champagne.

GOOD WITH
Salmon or caviar

A FEW GOOD BOTTLES
#1 (NV Domaine Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Perle d’Ivoire Blanc de Blancs Brut, Burgundy, France) $17. Find more information here.
#2 (NV Maison J.J. (Jean Jacques) Vincent Cremant de Bourgogne) $16. Find more information here.
#3 (Pierre-Marie Chermette Domaine du Vissoux Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut, Burgundy, France) about $24. Find more information here.
#4 (NV Trenel Cremant de Bourgogne, Burgundy, France) $20. Find more informaiton here.

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