Russ Winton: Wine List

Wine Line: Readers talk good deals, box wine

Russ Winton

I enjoy writing Wine Line. I hope you find it consumer-friendly. If not, please let me know by sending me an e-mail. If you have learned something new about wine, that's fine! Remember, what we're talking about here is just fermented grape juice, that's all. It's always good to hear from Wine Line readers. Here are a couple of recent letters I'd like to share.

A Good Deal

Joe from Merced wrote questioning my recommendation that the Louie Martini cabernet sauvignon was a good value at Costco. He claims that the cab was priced at $11.99, noticed the Liberty School Cab for $9.99, and then noticed some Fresno State red wine in a two-pack.

Since he was going camping with some Bulldog grads, he bought all four wines. As he was leaving, he saw some halibut fillets and remembered he was cooking that night, so he bought the fish, a massive bag of fresh spinach, some yams and a two-pack of French bread. Later, he remembered he needed coffee and returned to buy the three-pound bag. So, he says, this little visit to Costco for a bottle of $11.99 wine set him back over $70!

Dear Joe: Congratulations! You made it out of Costco for less than $100, something I find difficult to do. So the way I look at it, you still have about $30 left to spend on the Martini cabernet. Or how about that 100-pack of toilet paper? Thanks for the letter.

Wine in boxes

Chateauroux wrote that I owed him $9. He said that he took my advice and bought the three-liter box of Corbett Canyon merlot and found it not to his liking. Luckily, he said, he bought a box of Corbett Canyon chardonnay, which he would try that night.

Chateauroux: Remember we all have different palates for tasting wine. I reported that the merlot had won the best of class in its price category at the San Francisco Chronicle wine tasting. Professional wine judges evaluated this merlot and gave it the honor, which breaks down to four bottles of gold medal winning wine for $9. What a deal! Thanks for reading Wine Line. Note: I didn't hear back so I assume the Chardonnay was acceptable and for the record, I tasted the Merlot and think it's an excellent value.

Heidi, of Merced, wrote that she used to be a "wine snob" but can't afford it anymore, so she has learned to appreciate wine in boxes. She says that by adding a handful of frozen mixed berries and a dash of 7-up to her wine, she creates a wonderful spritzer for poolside sipping. She says boxed wine doesn't easily compare to good mid-range-priced wines but it has a special place in her fridge. She adds, "Please don't box my ears for this!"

Dear Heidi: Way to go! Remember, drink what YOU like and keep that pinkie finger down! Here's my favorite wine spritzer: half dry white wine (jug or box wine), half diet tonic, squeeze in lemons and limes and pour over a tumbler of ice. Heidi, your ears are safe. Cheers!

What's on our table

2007 Los Vascos sauvignon blanc $12. This Chilean sauvignon blanc is a crisp refreshing wine with green apple/citrus aromas and bright lemon-lime flavors. The Rothschild (Lafite) partnership has created a consistent winner. Look for it at Bev-Mo for less than $10.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? You can reach me at Cheers!