Second bottles 4 of 4

Fourth installment in the “second bottle” series: Affordable wine strategies for times when Wine Spectator wonders and Parker-praised pours just are not in the budget.

“Second bottle” wines may not wow, but they are good enough to drink in cut-offs and a t-shirt while watching “best-I-could-find” cable offering. If you fine dined on chateaubriand with a creamy shallot-chervil-peppercorn béarnaise sauce every night eventually you would yearn for a drive-though value meal. These are wines for those times.

These are wines you pour today so you can afford to pour better tomorrow. These are wines you can confidently go to when you’re microwaving yesterday’s pizza or eating stuff from the Styrofoam box your secured at the restaurant when you were smart enough not to eat everything piled on your plate. These are wines you buy with a Lincoln or a Hamilton, not a Jackson or a Benjamin.


• Fish Eye Shiraz 2010. Fruity black & blue berries; classic candified [cq] commodity Aussie shiraz; jammy galore; love Yellow Tail, love this. $7

• Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo 2010. Ripe, tart cherry, some bell pepper, black pepper, smoke. Soft tannin, very easy drinking. $8

• Conde de Velázquez Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. Cherries, currant, smoke; velvety tannins; not sophisticated, but easy-drinking, go-to value. $9

• Middle Sister Rebel Red. Zin-merlot-cab-syrah-kitchen sink mix; plum, blueberry; supermarket commodity product. Don’t serve to wine snob in-laws; works with day-old pizza. $10

• Puerto Viejo Cabernet Sauvignon Vina Requingua 2010. Strawberry nose; red fruity; round palate; tenacious tannins; Chilean value cab. $11

• Grand Cru Chardonnay and Grand Cru Cabernet Sauvignon. The chard is pure California commodity stuff: some oak and some butter, refreshing enough, serve cold. The cab is pure California commodity stuff: some oak, some red fruit, touch of tannin. Both drink well, especially as second bottles. Complexity? No, but not embarrassing either. Best of all: $5 a bottle, $4 when you buy a case on sale. You do the math.