It’s important to establish a house wine for your abode. It should be something that is inexpensive ($4-12 per bottle), but relatively decent. The idea of a house wine is that you always have something around to open at the end of the night. You don’t want to open a good bottle at the end of the night because a) most of your guests will be too buzzed to care what they’re drinking, and b) in the off chance that you don’t finish it, you don’t want to run the risk of leaving a good bottle open for a couple of days (that is, if you don’t have another chance to drink it over the next two nights – and honestly, who has that problem?).
If you live in a state that has legalized the sales of wine and beer in grocery stores (this mostly just excludes the East coast), then Trader Joe’s is a great place to find your house wine. Under my guidance, my apartment selected Trader Joe’s Archeo Nero d’Avola, priced at $4.00 per bottle. My roommates have purchased two cases of the 2008 since we’ve lived in our apartment (10 months). The wine is fruit forward, with a jammy, chewy taste and very little acid. I think the 2007 was slightly better, but the 2008 in it’s fourth vintage serves it’s purpose.
(As a side note, Nero D’avola is an Italian grape from Sicily. There is not a lot produced in California, however Jacuzzi does make a yummy bottle of Nero d’Avola for $28.00 per bottle. Their tasting room is in Carneros, just off Route 121. They offer a complimentary tasting, and there is also an adjoining olive oil bar. They’re open until 5:30, so it’s a great spot to hit on your way back to San Francisco.)
I received two different types of aerating utensils for Christmas. MM gave me the Vinturi red wine aerator that’s held over a glass, and my roommate gave me the Trudeau aerator and pourer which you attached to the bottle. Both serve slightly different purposes, but the most exciting thing about having two is “double aerating.” We double aerated the Archeo Nero d’Avola last night, just for the heck of it to see if it would make a big difference. After the aeration, I found the wine to be too sweet and too fruity, and I actually poured it out. I think this wine is best as is, without food, and I will continue to drink it like that (at the end of the night, of course). Though, I am considering upping the ante for our next case of house red.
My brother’s favorite house wine is La Vieille Ferme red wine. I’ve tried this wine before and thought it was good for table wine, but nothing special. However, when I was home for Christmas, my brother (who will be known as Malcolm from this point forth) insisted that I try the wine using a Vinturi aerator. I obliged Malcolm and had a small glass of the aerated La Vielle Ferme, and was pleasantly surprised. I certainly drank my own words, if you will. After aeration, the wine was smooth and balanced, and much better than own its own. I still wouldn’t pair it with food, but that’s not the purpose of a house wine anyway.
I urge you to go out there and try different wines between the price range of $4-12. If you have access to Trader Joe’s wines, start there. Here are some suggestions that you should be able to find at Trader Joe’s, your local liquor store or a bodega:
- Bell’Agio Chianti
- Ravenswood Zinfandel
- La Loggia Barbera d’Alba (TJ’s)
- Ruffino Chianti (TJ’s)
It’s also fun to experiment with aeration. You may find that it improves the wine, or the wine may be good enough on it’s own. Try them side by side to get a true impression of the difference. And if you have any more suggestions for house wines, please include them in the comment field.