Looking for help with wine dinner

I’m not new to wine but I am new to taking my wine seriously, especially old world wines. To celebrate my 40th birthday this year, I’m planning a 4 course wine dinner with a group of friends. I am going to pick the wines, and then my wife is going to design a menu to pair.

I want to stick to old world wines (without being overly French) and my budget is about $80 per bottle.

My going plan is a sparkling wine (probably Champagne), a light white (probably a dry German riesling), a red Burgundy, and then ???. This is where I’m stuck and looking for some help. My initial thought was aged Barolo, but I’m increasingly unsure about the combination of Burgundy and Barolo. I worry they may be too similar and the progression and food pairings difficult to manage. I’m starting to think I need something fuller and richer.

Any thoughts on this would help. I’ve had very little Barolo and really no higher end Burgundies, so I’m at a bit of a loss. If not the Barolo, what other old world red wines might one suggest?

Thanks for your help.

You should be able to find a very good aged Rioja within your budget.

I like the Rioja suggestion. It’d be hard (but not impossible) to get aged Barolo around your price point. For the burg, finding something drinking well will be the most important thing. My recommendation would be something from one of the negotiants with a little age (06-08) or the 13 Ramonet or Pillot Chassagne 1er reds.

ummm, what’s wrong with Bordeaux? Lots of great aged Bordeaux out there for $80 and under

In this price range, or even around $100 if offset by some less expensive wines in the dinner, the quality of an aged Rioja would be far greater than that of an aged Bordeaux. Of course, enjoyment of one over the other would come down to preference, but for sheer quality, my money would definitely go to Rioja for an aged red.

My only advice is not to experiment. Why plan a dinner around wines you aren’t that familiar with? Also make dishes you have made before.

Are you planning on serving the wines blind? That could be interesting and add a bit of fun to the dinner. If you decide to do that, you could easily get a dry white for $40ish that would be more than acceptable, then you could spend $40ish on a ringer like maybe a Cali or Washington State Cab or Syrah…

FAKE NEWS! Bordeaux is more famous than Rioja for a reason. Sure, if you enjoy a tart cranberry-American oak cocktail Rioja gives you an experience you can’t get in Bordeaux but for most people Bordeaux offers a better QPR.