Once again, I've been struck by how, well, snobbish oenophiles can be. George read an article from a foodie magazine in which a guest's $40 bottle of wine was dismissed as barely acceptable for cooking. The host seemed to feel that if you pay less than $100 for a bottle of wine, you're clearly a Neanderthal.
In another article, a host substituted cheap wine in an expensive bottle, and all but one of her wine-snob guests praised the wine. Most were extremely put out by her trick, probably because it hurts to have your dellusions of oenophile grandeur dashed by a sub-par zinfandel.
In the Raihala household, we routinely drink wines in the $10-$15 price range and consider a cooking wine either a) something we paid $6 or $7 for, or b) what's left of a bottle that's been open for a little too long. Sunday, George made a delightfully flavorful Bolognese sauce with the remainder of a $10 bottle of Mark West pinot noir that we opened a few weeks ago. When we splurge on wine for a special occasion, we might pay $20, and if it's a really special occasion, $30.
Clearly, we are Neanderthals.
Given that several scientific studies concluded most people can't tell the difference between expensive and inexpensive wine in blind taste tests, I wondered if we were wasting our money with these splurges, so I decided to engage in a little quasi-scientific experiment of my own.
I bought these two wines at Kroger (which proves we have no taste at all). The Burgess cost $22, and the Cline cost $13. George only knew they were two different labels when I asked him to taste and tell me which he thought was the more expensive and which he liked better.
He tried the Burgess first. "Very dry," he said. "Not much fruit. It's good."
Then he tried the Cline. "Fruitier. I like this one better."
I of course knew which I was drinking. As far as taste, I agreed with George's feelings about the Burgess being drier and less fruity, but I liked them both about the same. I definitely didn't like the Burgess $9 more than the Cline.
One study sample hardly yields results that are useful for universal application, so the only real take-away from my experiment is that George and I are Neanderthals who are going to save some money and enjoy our $10-$15 bottles of wine on extra-special occasions.
If you, too, are a Neanderthal, give Cline wines a try. Pretty much all Cline varietals are very drinkable, affordable, and easy to find. And maybe if someone at Cline reads this, they'll send me a case or two. Hello, Cline? Is anyone listening?
Now it's your turn. Share your favorite wineries in the comments!