Help...Red Wine Advice

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DDD, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    My company arrives tomorrow noon. She drinks good red wine. :sigh: I know alot, lol, about Scotch but zip about wine. Help.

    I don't want to spend a mint but it has to be high quality. I'm serving salad, salmon with dill sauce, roasted asparagus and wild rice. I'm sure that wine is suppose to match the menu. Right?

    She'll be at our house (almost ready...double sigh) for three days. We have a local ABC that carries a wide variety of wine so picking it up should be easy. Come to think of it maybe I should buy small bottles so it is fresh each day? Thursday night is going to be beef or pork chops with sauteed mushrooms, baked potatoes and some fresh vegetable....maybe need a different one?

    Thank heavens for the CD family. There are always experts around. DDD
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Well. I'm no expert at all on this but I thought white wine was typically served with fish and red wine with red meat. If that's true, maybe a blush or rose with dinner then a dry red wine (cabernet or merlot- I think) for after dinner.
  3. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I've always had guidance with wine from the staff when I purchase. I usually mention my budget, the menu and in your case I'd point out the guests "know" their wine. They can usually give good advice.

    Alternately, how about since you are being so thoughtful to be considerate of your guests tastes, ask them? Mention that you know how much they enjoy wine and are hoping to experiment during their visit with trying to expand your horizons since you've never learned much about wines. Mention the menus and ask them to suggest what kind of wine they'd recommend and enjoy. Putting it that way helps the guests know you are eager yourself to try some new dinner drinks and ensures you don't stress about it too. It's stressful enough as hostess! No shame in saying you haven't experimented much with wines.
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I was getting ready to ad a PS and suggest that too- Personally, that's what I would do- go to the nice local wine shop and ask, but that's because I'm too lazy to research it. LOL!
  5. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I won't see or talk with her until I get home from work to make dinner. I'm positive she would then say "i don't always drink wine with dinner, don't bother." It's a great idea but isn't practical for this guest. She's making her first trip as a widow so I'm trying to make her as relaxed as possible. I've only met her twice but she is a lovely person and her husband used to make the plans, do the driving etc. (he was husband's only brother). I'm sure she'll need to chill. DDD

    PS: Maybe with a little wine she won't notice that our house smells like a DOG. :wine:
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    DDD, here are a few recommendations. One of the lovely things about the "rules" for pairing wine with meals is that once you know why they exist, you can feel free to break them.

    The idea is that the lighter or "whiter" the main course, the lighter or whiter the wine. Strong flavoured main courses (beef, spicy foods, lamb, etc.) call for a full bodied red, whereas lighter main courses (pork, chicken, fish) call for white wines. You can also get into scary amounts of detail about dry vs. sweet wines, but that's a lot to take in.

    So, given your menu here's what I would recommend:

    For beef, go for a nice rich red (Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Shiraz...that sort of thing. I find Shiraz to be a bit harsh, but many of my friends really like it)
    For pork, something like a Merlot, which is a softer red, or a blush (which is a white, made from red wine grapes without the skins). White Zinfandel, White Shiraz, or White Merlot are nice options.
    For salmon, the same list of Blush wines would work nicely, or a white like a Sauvignon Blanc or possibly a Riesling.

    If this is too much info, I would suggest asking the staff. They can point you in the direction of what they have in stock that would work with your menu.

    Have a lovely visit with your friend!
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2011
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Trinity has it right... I would go for a "white Merlot" or a Riesling, with salmon. If you are putting garlic or buttery flavors in, go for the Riesling. If a sweeter flavor, merlot.

    Now - I'm cheap - but honestly? Alice White and the Little Penguin taste pretty dang good for cheap. Tisdale is pretty good, and not so "cheap" but not wallet-busting, either.

    If it's gotta be red - Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir are always good.

    If you want to try something SWEET (not kidding here), ice wine or even Lexia.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Here is a list from a site called of the top ten red wines under $15:

    Here is a list of top ten wines under $10:

    It is possible to get good wines that do not cost the earth. Price is NOT a guide for how good the wine is, which makes it harder. You won't know her favorites until you can ask her, but using these lists you can find some decent wines that will work and not kill your budget. I worked for a bank VP who really loved good wine and he told me that it was just as hard to find a good bottle of wine for $30-$60 as it was to find one for $15-$25. He saw no reason to spend in the top price range for wine when wine in the lower brand wasn't worse and some were much better. This is why I gave you the two lists of wines.
  9. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    I love this guys site. I don't know diddly about wine, so when I was buying a bottle for a gift for AH for Christmas (don't ask - don't judge :sigh:) I hopped on "The Wine Snob" and really enjoyed the information.


    PS: I'm a Dewars and Club Soda gal myself. FWIW, I find it to be smoother and more piquant than Johnny Walker Red or Black! :rofl:
  10. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    If I were newly widowed I'd want the scotch...
  11. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Thanks you all. I figured I better try to get something on the way home from work so I asked "the experts" at the big liquor store that has frequent wine tastings and specials. Uh...their were two employees on duty. The more mature one helped me and, lol, I swear he doesn't know wine. He must be a hard liquor fan.

    Anyway I opted for a bottle of blended reds that he suggested. Heck, I don't know if she likes dry or sweet or whatever. It will have to do for tomorrow and then I can ask her preference like you all suggested before the next meals. I think she drinks red because it's suppose to be good for your health. Hmmmmm....time will tell. If I learn anything worth sharing I'll share. Thanks again. DDD
  12. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    D3, I drink red wine with everything. Each to his/her own, I say. When I visit a dear friend she stops at a liquor store on the way home from picking me up at the airport so I can select what I want and this way I'm happy and she's happy.

  13. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I hope, Suz, that you stay very happy. :angel: DDD
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    People also tend to serve red wine at room temperature, and only chill the white wine. But maybe because of the heat in Australia, we have begun serving red wine mildly chilled, down to about 60 F. If it's a light sparkling red, fully chilled (5C or 40 F) is lovely. With salmon, a light red would be acceptable especially if the sauce is fairly rich.

    I won't recommend specific wines because I could only talk about Aussie wines; my favourite vineyard is Cassegrain's, and even in Australia it's not well known.

    A serious suggestion for the future, or maybe even while your friend is visiting - go on a wine-tasting around your area. It is fun, you can sometimes discover some fabulous boutique wines. When we were in Port Macquarie for my niece's wedding in October we had planned to go to Cassegrain's again (they're in Port Mac) but got sidetracked to a historic farmhouse and grounds that easy child 2/difficult child 2 wanted to explore. And discovered - a boutique winery! We didn't leave the place all afternoon... and we came home with some treasures to share with wine buffs who think they know everything!

    Never let yourself be persuaded to buy a wine you don't like. It doesn't matter how expensive it is, how many awards it has won, how well-respected by experts it is. If YOU don't like it, then there's no point buying it.

    Also, if you don't want to worry about waste, buy wine in half-bottles. But an opened bottle of wine can be re-corked and put in the fridge, used over the next week. If you can get those vacuum-sealed stoppers, it keeps even better. However, they don't work with sparkling wines. For those, just jam the stopper back in and put it in the fridge.

    if you have leftover red wine that isn't quite drinkable, make spaghetti bolognese and throw in a generous slurp of good red. Put the wine in just as you add the bouquet garni (or bay leaves, if you don't usually do any more) then whack on the lid, turn it down to a low simmer and let the alcohol make the herb flavours really come out, and blend.

    Another option you have is to buy a cask of wine. Known in Australia as "chateau cardboard". These are an Aussie invention which I think have made it across the oceans to you. We've had wine casks for about 40 years now. A wine cask is basically a cardboard box with a tap. Inside the cardboard box is a wine skin made from the same stuff they make those foil balloons from. I keep a cask of white and a cask of red in my pantry, to use for cooking. In winter husband will buy a smaller cask of red for himself, he uses it to make mulled wine by the glass (in the microwave) each evening.

    Me - I don't drink. Not any more. Just the occasional sip at a wine tasting, or when we have a bottle of wine at a family dinner. I usually take a sip from husband's glass, but I will generally go months or longer, without even drinking that much.

    But I do know a good drop when I meet one!

  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Marg, we calli t box wine here. Target is supposed to have some really good wines in the box form. usually it is lower quality but apparently Target has changed that some here.

    Leftover wine can be frozen for cooking use later. I used to freeze it in ice cube trays to use in stews, tomato sauce, etc.. when I had red wine leftover.
  16. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    We've had a wine lake here for about 15 years now and we've getting cask wines that match anything you can get in a bottle. There are some terrible ones too. Very rogh reds (nicknamed Kanga Rouge) and acidic whites (Bondi Bleach).

    I've FINALLY been catching up with the Oprah Aussie shows and noticed the episode I just finished watching had a hot air balloon in the Hunter Valley ("Heart of the Australian wine industry") WRONG! It's the oldest area and they do some wonderful reds (including the legendary Grange Hermitage) there but forget their whites. Even the locals get their whites from elsewhere.

    The cask (or wine box) is an Ausralian invention. We had a laugh when some US Late Night show was talking about a Californian winery that was marketing their wine in this 'new' packaging. This was in the early eighties just after Marg and I were married. We just chuckled and sipped our Kanga Rouge from a wine cask we had two years earlier.
  17. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    ...I was a kid when the boxed wines showed up in the US. My Mom loved them. I thought it was hysterically funny.

    Then again, my Grandma drank Blue Nun... UGH!!!
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    New Zealand has some great wines. The actor Sam Neill has his own vineyard there too, on South Island. But it's not very accessible, and you have to make appointments to go there for a tasting. Two Paddocks, I think it's called. Very boutique.

    Aussie wine regions - South Australia (Barossa Valley) is one of the original wine growing regions. Then Hunter Valley (north of Sydney) and increasingly, Port Macquarie. We also like the vineyards in Victoria, they have some marvellous ones there. Hunter Valley is considered the best, but frankly we were not impressed when we went there. The wines were OK, but none had any staying power. You pretty much had to drink it immediately, our usual technique of buying a young wine and laying it down was not going to work with their wines. And they were expensive. We didn't think they were worth the price, most of them.

    That's why I said, never be pushed into buying something you don't personally like. And where possible, do try to stick to only buying what you've been able to taste.

    For a red drinker, especially in winter, try one of the fortified wines such as a good sherry or port. Serve in small glasses after dinner, perhaps with a cheese platter. It's a heavier, warmer alternative to a dessert wine. Also generally a lot cheaper than dessert wine!

    I remember husband & I served up a very special dessert wine once, to a close friend. We served it as you should in small sherry glasses and were a tad horrified when our friend tossed the lot back in one gulp then poured another. It could have barely touched the sides. "It's a bit sweet," he commented. We decided to not go into detail about how each grape was hand-picked after the first frosts...

  19. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    For those in the US who don't know much about wines, Olive Garden will let you sample 4-6 different wines for a very reasonable cost. I was surprised it was available here in OK where the liquor laws are antiquated (the only alcohol you can get outside a liquor store or restaurant/club is 3.2% beer or malt beverages - very few places still make or sell 3.2 anything). I have a friend who took a couple of college classes in wine tasting and she has similar taste to me, so I let her guide me through. turns out that the wines I like are the ones that guys tend to prefer, not the more traditionally "girly" or "feminine" wines. the heavier reds, are how she and the wine steward explained them. Makes sense as I really prefer a good bourbon to almost any type of alcohol. I was just pleased to find that there actually are wines I like.

    I just drink so rarely any more that I don't buy much alcohol. I get light rum or vodka to make vanilla, but other than that don't mess with it. NOt with the medications and a family history of inherited liver disease. Esp as my mom may need a liver transplant in a few years - and we know that my gfgbro has trashed his to the point they won't consider him. Her sister is a match, supposedly, but she has a huge alcohol problem so she is out also. I think getting pregnant with Wiz messed something up in my system. I could drink and really enjoyed it before I got pregnant. After i got pregnant, before I even knew I was pregnant, I suddenly could not STAND anything with alcohol and even a small taste would make me very ill. Probably saved him from fetal alcohol problems as I didn't know I was pregnant for 16 weeks, but it was odd that it didn't end with the pregnancy as everyone told me it would. So not drinking was not a hardship, ever, thankfully. I enjoy a few sips of wine, or of bourbon, every year or so, but that is all. Other wine just ends up in stew or sauces.
  20. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    That reminds me of my mother in law. She bought a tiny sampler of ice wine. It's like drinking wine-flavored sugar syrup, to me. EWWW.

    So then a year later I got another sampler in my Christmas stocking. And for our last anniversary, we got a full-size, $160 bottle. OMG! The stuff's AWFUL! (in my opinion - I tend to like drier, not so sweet wines).