Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Wine Gifts - Part I

This year more than most we are all looking for good value. Whether you are an unemployed investment banker, a troubled Chateau owner, Joe The Plumber, Six Pack Joe, Sarah Palin, Tina Fey, Barbara Walters or just ordinary folk, this year we all want to save cash and spend as little as possible. Just like the banking lemmings and the Wall Street herd, we have swung from extreme profligacy to penny pinching penury. Just as the financial system and real estate markets "froze up" this fall, the wine world froze up, too. For a while, everyone stopped lending and buying, Anecdotally, wines sales seemed to have dried up. A lot of wineries don't seem to get it. Prices of many wines have been going up. On the other hand, some winemakers do get it and are selling wine at reasonable prices. If you are an unemployed investment banker, you can substitute Washington State boutique wines for California "cults" for as little as one tenth the price. If you are a troubled Chateau owner, try substituting great American wine for Bordeaux First Growths. If you are Joe the Plumber try two buck chuck. Sarah needs to upgrade to Alaska Amber. Six Pack Joe can stick with Bud, maybe Tina Fey needs to downgrade to Cold Duck, maybe Barbara will stick with Champagne and caviar. You can still give great wine by finding alternatives. As one wine merchant put it, everybody's going from the top three shelves to the bottom three shelves. Here are alternative gifts that are often just as good and sometimes better. Watch out for a few jokes. BTW, an asterisk signifies a Wanderlust wine.

1) Penfold Grange - Try 2006 Penfold Koonunga Hill Shiraz- Cabernet for about $7 at Costco.
Of course, these aren't exactly comparable but you can save about 98% and the wine is quite good. And it need to age - a wine for Ryan's cellar So if your man wants to start a wine cellar here's a good start at a reasonable price. Age about three years ( one to ten?)

2) Less expensive Bordeaux - Substitute Merlot or Cab from Red Diamond or Columbia Crest.
Buy it on sale at Safeway for about $7 and save almost half. These wines are fruitier and friendlier to the American palate.

3) Why spend upwards of $50 for a highly rated Malbec from Argentina, when you can buy 2007 Pascual Toso Malbec for about $7 at Costco? Actually, it was highly rated by the Wine Spectator.

4) Looking for something spiritual to replace the old materialism? Try the 05 Ruah from Desert Wind. This cosmic wine will only set you back about $12 on sale in Seattle at Pete's. Just think a glass of Ruah and you will be full of the cosmic spirit. This wine's got soul!

5) Discover Balboa Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet for only twenty bucks or so. Tom Glase and his partner were prescient in designing these consumer friendly wines at reasonable price just in time for the " worst recession since the depression." The Merlot is the friendliest and fruitiest, the Cab the biggest.*

6) A Fine Old English Claret - Try 2006 Basel Cellars Claret from Walla Walla. It's young, it's fresh, it's balanced, it's medium bodied, good fruit - just what a claret should be for about $20.*

Look for Part II in a few days.


  • At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  • At 9:13 AM, Blogger SeattleWineBlog said…

    Susan, thanks for your kind comment. I hope you will contiue to enoy the Seattle Wine Blog. Gene


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