Help me pick red wine for wife..

More and more, my wife is attempting to find a red wine that she enjoys at a reasonable price. Each time I open a bottle, she tries it…sometimes she will have a glass, more often just a taste. She enjoys some higher priced Cabs, but we don’t drink those often enough.

So I am looking for some help based on the following criteria.

Please suggest a California, South American, Italian or Australian red (no French)

  • Medium body
  • Sub $20
  • No more than 13.5% alc
  • Not overly dry
  • Ready to drink now
  • Smooth finish, not too tannic
  • Dark fruit, cocoa, blueberry, vanilla, candied apple, spicy are some flavor profiles (not limited to this).



Siduri Williamette Valley 2009. Ought to fit the bill quite nicely. Even better, the 08 if you can find it!

Ripasso Valpolicella, certo!

Any particular producer?

A half bottle of 2007 Frog’s Leap Merlot Rutherford

“A harmonious aroma of herbs, cherry and tea with a lighter weight entry and a nice low-alcohol (13.4%) finish.”

  1. Xinomavro (Greece). Boutari, Karydas, Alpha Estate
  2. Argentine malbec, altho the alcohol % may be a bit high. Alto cedro, Luigi Bosca, Trapiche.
  3. Barbera. Vietti, Vajra, Sandrone (pricey), many more.
  4. Grenache. Any entry level 07 Vacqueyras - oops didn’t see the “no French” criterion

Price will always be a potential issue but will sales, case discounts, etc could probably still get near 20 bucks per bottle.


It would depend on what is available in your area but, riffing on Woody Allen’s comment that even bad sex is pretty good, that’s a type of wine that’s pretty hard to screw up.

I’m on the same page as Roberto with the Ripasso.
Not sure of availability, but I had the Villalta Valpolicella Ripasso recently for around $12. It’s not the most complex wine I’ve ever had, but it was a crowd pleaser.

I would go for Dolcettos, Bruno Giacosa’s Dolcetto d’Alba is wonderful, makes you appreciate the grape like no other! Although his own stuff, i.e. the Falletto label. Great stuff really…

And Spain, Salia from Finca Sandoval, quite easy-going stuff, always some oak, pretty fruit and easy on the tannins. I personally always buy the Pétalos from Palacios’ estate in Bierzo (it’s been on the forum loads of times I think), anyway its great QPR, although might not fit the flavour profile all that much.

For Cab, Beringer does a great entry level from Knight’s Valley in Sonoma by the same name, usually really good for the money.

That’s all I can think of for now, don’t know about alcohol percentage now though. Hope it helps!
P.S. Marion makes a great Valpolicella!

If you don’t mind my asking, why does the label have to say less than 13.5% alcohol? That eliminates most red wines from the regions you’ve limited it to. Plus, I’m guessing most of us don’t remember all the alcohol levels from the wines that we would otherwise think of to satisfy your request.

How about Beaujolais? In good to great years, it has all the features you’re looking for.

classic mistake. Its important to pick the wine first and only then choose a wife.

He said “no French.” Although, ironically, that is where you’d have the best chance of finding red wines that meet his requirement that the wines be 13.5% alcohol or less.

He also said “dark fruit, cocoa, blueberry, vanilla” as his first four descriptors, which are pretty much the opposite of Beaujolais. And he says “not overly dry.”

Honestly, I don’t think the initial request really adds up. I don’t know that there are good sub-$20 reds from Italy, US, South America or Australia in that kind of lush, forward, more oaked style that are also 13.5% alcohol or less. Maybe there are a few decent QPR Oregon pinots made in a forward style that still have low enough alcohol? I think if you dropped the 13.5% part, or maybe replaced it with “not wines with a lot of discernable alcoholic heat,” then there would a great many options.

“most” red wines in Spain and Italy are UNDER 13% abv. The sort of stuff that gets press or is sought out here is often more but “most” people there are drinking (inexpensive) wines that range from 10.5 to 12.5 and 13 is the STRONG stuff.

Even assuming all of what you said to be correct, I still don’t think he’s going to find many examples here in the US of Italian wines in that alcohol % range which are in the style he is seeking (low acid, lavish oak, ripe fruit, suitable for immediate consumption).

I’m no expert, but I have enjoyed Layer Cake “Primitivo” from Puglia , Italy. 2008 Vintage, and it sells for about $12. I’m not a big fan of Italian wines, but this one is easy to enjoy. I will not endorse any of the other wines they produce, but if you can find this one it is worth a try.

I second the recommendations for valpo ripasso, Descendienties Petalos and even though the flavor requests do not necessarily match - beaujolais.

This is pretty tasty, the 2007 is out now, it’s around $15 give or take.

Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Riserva

My bad on missing the “no French” comment. Read that line a little too quickly.

With the exception of the vanilla, you can get the flavor descriptors out of some cru Beaujolais, especially the great 2009s. But if France is ruled out, so be it.

This would be my suggestion

Kermit Lynch 2009 Rosso del Monferrato - my QPR of the year - WINE TALK - WineBerserkers" onclick=";return false;