Country specialties

Buying wine: intimidating. So many choices and prices. We hunker in our wine foxhole, timidly buy familiar bottles.

Expand your horizons—there’s a wide, wide world of wine to enjoy.

Consider wines from places and grapes you have not experienced. All wines below can be found for less than $12. Go wine whacky—on a budget.

Spain is current wine world hottie. Great wines, great prices. Tempranillo is the major Spanish grape, usually the base of blended reds. Look for wines made in Rioja or Ribera del Duero regions. Ole! Bravo!

Chile is cool; their Carmenere is wonderful. Andean valleys see-saw between hot days and cool nights, which makes Carmenere grapes very happy. Taste something tad more rad than Merlot. Cozy up to Chilean Carmenere.

New Zealand sires Sauvignon Blanc zealots, especially from Marlborough region. Tangy, tart, acid; salubrious paired with salad. French Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are wonderful Sauvignon Blancs; New Zealand’s are affordable.

You won’t cry for Argentina sipping Malbec. Bordeaux’s dark blender wows as an Argentinean varietal. Wine king Robert Parker: “Argentine Malbecs rival Bordeauxs at several times the price.” Sip. Agree. Sip again.

Go far out? Amble over the Alps to Austria. Pop the top on Grüner Veltliner. Pairs with asparagus (no other wine dares). Comes in one liter bottle (not 750 milliliters or 1.5 liters like everyone else). Beer bottle cap closure, not a cork.

Charge out of your wine foxhole—whirl something new tonight.


• Riscal Rioja Tempranillo. Easy drinking, nice price. $9

• Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere Rapel Valley. Great, smoky finish. $11

• Redcliffe Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough. Fragrant, tart, lime, minerals. $11