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Everyday sipping without a sacrifice

by Lorri Hambuchen | August 3, 2016 at 1:54 a.m.

We all have wines we consider great values of exceptional quality that we enjoy day after day. Some call them "everyday drinking wines," others, their "house wine." I smiled when a friend used, "sip-with-pizza-on-a-Tuesday-night wines." But I must say my favorite is, "Soldiers protecting the rare bottles in my cellar to not be carelessly consumed." All consumers have a price point tailored to their budgets for these wines, but I've found for most, $15 is ideal.

I enjoy exploring wines in this category, and I'm rarely disappointed. But I always keep a few tips in mind.

• Don't judge just by price. Ask for recommendations from reliable sources and let your tastes guide you. Don't choose wines simply because the price tag looks like a bargain. If it's not a varietal you like, the lower price isn't going to make it taste better. A reputable wine retailer will mark down wines at clearance prices to pass the discount on to the customer, not because they are outdated and need to be sold.

• Buy the most recent vintage. A 2008 rose wine was intended to be enjoyed fresh or up to a about year old, so finding it at $8 in the mark-down bin is no bargain. Most value wines are generally not intended to age, and actually lose freshness as they age.

• All wine, regardless of price, should offer balance reflecting the elements from which it is made. For a white wine it may simply be its taste and the balance of acidity that assures freshness. For reds it may be the balance of tannin; too much leaves your mouth dry and exhausted; too little is much like drinking Kool-Aid.

THE VALUES UNDER $15

2015 Simple Life Pinot Noir, California

2014 Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc, California

2015 Picpoul de Pinet, France

2014 HandCraft Pinot Grigio, California

2015 Tercos Torrontes, Argentina

2014 Vinum Cellars Chenin Blanc, California

2014 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha, Spain

2014 Black Ink Red Wine, California

2013 Sawbuck Cabernet Sauvignon, California

2015 Ecco Domani, Italy

2015 McNab Rose, California

2015 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

Lorri Hambuchen is a member of London's Institute of Wines and Spirits. Contact her at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, Ark. 72203, or email:

uncorked@thewinecenter.com

Food on 08/03/2016

Print Headline: Everyday sipping without a sacrifice

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