Russ Winton: Wine List

Wine Line: In search of bargains

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG COLUMNIST RUSS WINTON NOV. 16, 2007
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG COLUMNIST RUSS WINTON NOV. 16, 2007 Merced Sun-Star

It’s true. I have to admit it. I am a bit of a wine geek. If you’re a regular reader of this column, I’m sure you’ve already figured that out.

Let me make this perfectly clear, I am not a wine snob. I keep my pinkie finger down. I don’t blather in tasting rooms about malolactic fermentation or drop the names of chateau this or that.

Wine snobs are boring and you should try to avoid them. On the other hand, wine geeks (like me) are always on a continuous hunt for good (read cheap) wine. Finding the perfect daily wine or special Friday or Sunday wine is not easy. It’s a challenge and when I go wine hunting that’s why I include the Grocery Outlet.

Here are a few reasons I put Grocery Outlet in my wine hunt:

1. The QPR (quality to price ratio) is amazing. They buy overstocks, wine inventories from sold or bankrupt wineries, packaging changes, surplus inventories and all the wines are vetted by an experienced tasting panel. You can find great deals on everyday wines.

2. They have a good selection of Old World wines from Spain, Italy and France. To me, Old World wines are often much more interesting daily wines than those New World industrial cookie-cutter-made wines.

3. The Read family started the business in 1946 and the third generation is running it today. Stores are locally owned and operated. The Turlock store, on East Main, is store #262 and the projection is to add 15 to 20 stores per year.

4. Special sales of 20 percent off are held the week before Easter and Thanksgiving and the Turlock outlet is now offering a 10 percent case discount every Wednesday.

5. Finally, I like to blind-taste my selections with my unofficial wine-loving tasting panel. It’s a great way to find an everyday wine at a modest cost.

I’ve been a Cline Winery fan for many years and a few columns back, I raved about their Contra Costa Ancient Vines Zinfandel. The 2013 California Zinfandel is a full bodied dry red wine with black fruit flavors, soft tannins and a medium long finish. With a touch of petite sirah, it’s a big red and at $4 it’s the perfect daily wine. Check your local Grocery Outlet.

What’s On Our Table

Castle Rock, Mark West, Bogle and McManis have been our go-to bargain pinot noirs for many years and all have excellent QPRs. Recently I tasted the Mark West 2013 Santa Lucia Highlands and the 2013 Carneros. Both are excellent. The Santa Lucia is a bit more fruit forward and ripe. The Carneros has red cherry and cranberry flavors and a bit more restrained. Both Mark West wines are in the $20 range and well worth it. It’s a perfect pinot noir for grilled salmon. Cheers!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Find me on Facebook or at rgwinton@yahoo.com.

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