One of the questions I am most often asked is "Where can I find that wine you wrote about last week?"
As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, finding a wine that is widely available can be a challenge. Not all wine shops carry the same stock. Also complicating matters is that different states have varying policies about wine sales.
Of course, one of the most useful tools in finding any wine is the Internet. I have found some success in using search engines to locate a particular wine. Wine shop websites are also getting better at maintaining up-to-date inventories online (although it is always prudent to contact the shop to confirm availability). My favorite online tool is wine-searcher.com. While the standard version is free, it is limited to searching inventory of wine shops that pay a fee to be listed. Upgrading to the "pro" version ($39 per year) offers full access to the website's comprehensive database of wines, but may be overkill for the average consumer.
But what about finding wines that are widely available in our area? Thanks to Samantha Jimenez, a public relations consultant with Whole Foods Market, the problem may be temporarily solved. Samantha recently sent over some samples of wines that are available at all of the Whole Foods locations in our area that are allowed to sell wine. A quick search showed these wines are also available at many wine shops in our area. Retail prices are approximate.
Bubbles are always fun. And organic grapes are just icing in the sparkling wine, like the prosecco grapes used to make the nonvintage Mionetto Brut Prosecco ($12) from Italy. It possesses a lively palate with flavors of apple, nectarine and tangy citrus. The finish is crisp and clean, and would make a perfect pairing with fresh strawberries or grilled oysters. QPR 7.5
As we glide into the last part of the summer season, I am spending a lot more time outside, cooking on the grill, so I am looking for a smooth, easy-drinking wine to complement both the food and the mood. Enter Bolla Soave Classico ($12) from Italy. This isn't your parent's Soave. This charming white wine is full of aromas of white peach and white flowers on the nose and flavors of stone fruit, citrus and pear on the light-bodied frame. A touch of marzipan on the delicate finish reminds me to enjoy it with grilled chicken. QPR 8
One of the most renowned producers in the Burgundy region of France is Domaine Louis Latour. The Louis Latour Ardeche Chardonnay ($11) from France is a value-driven white wine that has a lot to offer for the money. Crisp apple, white nectarine and lemony flavors cover the palate on a sheet of crisp acidity. Notes of steely mineral on the back end of the medium-bodied finish provide a great backdrop to roast chicken or pork loin. QPR 8
I really enjoy off-dry (ever-so-slightly sweet) wines as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to spicy fare. The 2011 Yalumba Christobel's Eden Valley Riesling ($12) from Australia shines with floral aromas of peach nectar and mango on the bouquet and crisp flavors of white nectarine, pineapple and guava in the mouth. The bright acidity balances the sweetness of the fruit, and the hint of minerality provides depth on the finish. QPR 8.5
If a charming red wine is on your agenda, then the 2008 Columbia Winery Merlot ($20) from Washington is a fun choice. Merlot grapes make up about 85 percent of the blend, but malbec, sangiovese, cabernet franc, barbera and petit verdot are also added in for balance and finesse. The nose is full of red plum, dried herbs and cedar aromatics. The palate is rewarded with flavors of blackberry, dark plum, black cherry and baking spices. A touch of tobacco highlights the soft, pretty finish. QPR 8.5
Note: QPR is a rating system that compares the quality a wine delivers relative to the price. A QPR of 10 is considered an excellent value.