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Wine of the House

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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?).

A Trader Joe's $4.00 special

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.

Trudeau + Vinturi

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.

About Kelsey

Kelsey is a food and wine lover residing in Napa, California, where she does marketing for a boutique wine collective. She previously lived in San Francisco for over six years, where her blogging journey began. She loves to cook seasonal meals and experiment with new wine pairings. She has been drinking and learning about wine with her father since she was 14, and cooking in the kitchen with her mother since she was 6. Both of her parents taught her well about seasoning and flavors, and she continues to learn more with every meal that is made.

3 responses »

  1. A great idea to have some ‘house’ wines. I have a system that works pretty well for me. I have some of my wine stored on a rack in my wine room (the dining room that we never use). I store these in descending order of importance. So my wife and daughters know that if “some of the girls” drop in for a drink, they can take anything out of the top couple of shelves without raising my blood pressure. It also means, I can be seen to be ‘selecting’ a wine to share with any randomer who happens to call.

  2. Hi Conor, thanks for commenting! I do the same thing with my 72-bottle wine rack in my bedroom. Though, that’s more for my own organization and peace of mind. My roommates and friends know that entire rack is hands off! We have other racks in the dining room where we keep communal wine, and I often share my good stuff anyway. Because what’s the fun of it if you can’t talk to other people about great wine?
    My father used to have sections in his cellar for whites and reds that Malcolm and I were allowed to take when we had friends over. This was of course after he removed the padlock from the cellar door during our teenage years.

    • Yes, I use a very similar approach to yours Conor. By the way, Kelsey mentioned La Vielle Ferme as Malcolm’s choice for a house red. The 2009 is one that I buy and put on the shelf that is fair game for everyone. The 1976 Vielle Ferme was the very first house red for me and Abbie, in 1979.


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