If you want to buy the best wine for the least amount of money, you need a friend. A trusted wine expert who has not only studied wine but who also samples a lot of wines to learn even more.
In San Antonio, my Wine Guy is Ralph Cortez, the longtime wine manager at the H-E-B Plus store at 1604 & Blanco – a store that sells more wine than any other in the city!
I asked Ralph for his suggestions on delicious wines that won’t drain the wallet…wines that would be perfect to serve at a party or give as a gift.
His suggestions are…
Four Star Cabernet 2010 [left] – $12; This rich and complex wine is produced for H-E-B by a very well respected wine maker in Napa, whose namesake reserve wine starts at $75 a bottle. Try pairing with holiday beef, lamb, poultry–or any spicy food!
La Storia Cabernet – under $20; Flavors of blueberry, blackberry and black licorice make this elegant and rich Sonoma cab a welcome addition to any holiday table. A slight smokiness on the nose, with aromas of brown sugar, vanilla, and cocoa.
Krutz Magnolia Cabernet – $22; A big, bold Napa red that rated 91 (2011) from Wine Enthusiast!
Arrowood Cabernet – $23; Sonoma; rated 90 (2008) by Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar.
Codorniu Anna – under $10; This popular and bubbly brut rated 88 from Wine Spectator.
JCB#21 – $19; Rich, crisp and bracing, the JCB #21 also has the tiniest bit of luminous creaminess. A “90” by Wine Enthusiast.
Stivali Prosecco [right] – $14; A semi dry Prosecco out of Italy. Try pairing with mature, hard cheese or shell fish.
DSM Brut Rose – Not too dry or sweet, this beautifully blush sparkling wine has apple and citrus flavors and a light toasty finish.
Capezzana Carmignano [left] – under $12; Elegant with a slightly oaky finish, enjoy this Super Tuscan with any number of grilled meats.
Guado Al Tasso [above] – A beautiful blend from Bolgheri (Cabernet/Merlot/Cab Franc/Petit Verdot). Sweet, dense with intense aromas of black fruit. Rated a whopping 98 by Wine Enthusiast, and a Grand Champion by HLSR Uncorked! (2011)
Ruffino Santedame – An elegant, classically styled Chianti with rich and complex flavors. You’ll taste notes of roasted coffee and strawberry. Try pairing with traditional dishes such as roasted chicken with rosemary or portobello mushroom ravioli. Rated 91 on Wine Enthusiast (2006).
Molino Sant’ Antimo – This ruby red Brunello is spice and fruity, made with 100% Sangiovese grapes.