Wine on Wednesdays – Me and Wine

Like many people, I used to think drinking wine was for snooty Europeans and people with too much money. I had always been a proud beer drinker.

But in 2000, I became general manager of a fancy casino steakhouse. Knowing nothing about wine other than I didn’t like it, I gave myself a crash course in oeneology so that I could knowledeably talk about wines and food pairings with my employees and guests. I bought a bunch of books and ventured into mysterious parts of the liquor store I had never visited before: the wine aisles.

What I quickly discovered was that I really loved wine. I loved its rich history, its nearly endless varietals and brands, and most importantly its taste. Good wine tastes great, it’s a true pleasure to drink, much more so than beer. And an appreciation for good wine can make life better.

I enjoy red wine more than white, with pinot noirs, zinfandels and shirazes at the top of my list. And while I enjoy good wine, I can’t afford fine wine. I never spend more than $10/bottle, and except for a special occasion, I usually limit myself to $7.99/bottle or less. Usually far less.

Fortunately, there are many, many very good wines available at that price point. There also are a lot of truly bad wines at every price level. As a result of years of trial and error, I’ve been able to weed out those ones, and have compiled a rotation of 25-30 wines that are very inexpensive but also very good.

In this “Wines on Wednesday” feature, I will be identifying some of the best value-priced wines I have found since first discovering my passion for wine 12 years ago. I will describe some of the best places to find good, cheap wines, and how to pair wine with food to enhance even the everday dining experience.

Today, I want to start with one of my all-time favorite wines: Coppola Rosso, a red table wine produced by a vineyard owned by Francis Ford Coppola, director of two of my all-time favorite films, “The Godfather” and “Apocolypse Now”.

Although it’s nice that this wine is made by someone whose films I respect, it’s even nicer that this wine is super delicious and also very affordable. The discount liquor store near my house sells it for $6.99/bottle, or $5.97/bottle after the 15% discount you get if you buy six wines or more at a time.

In general, when a wine is made from one type of grape — such as the cabernet sauvignon, merlot or chardonnay grape, for example — it is designated as a “varietal” and can be called a cabernet, a merlot or a chardonnay.

But when a blend of different grapes is used, a wine can only be called a “red table wine” or a “white table wine.” Although Coppola Rosso is a table wine, it tastes  like a good California zinfandel, which are known for their earthy vegetable-like flavors.

Coppola has said that with his Rosso (Italian for “red”) he was trying to capture the flavor of the everyday, versatile Italian paisan red wines his grandparents used to drink. This wine definitely fits that bill. I’m a paisan and I could absolutely drink it everyday.

Coppola Vineyards make a variety of wines, including a Coppola Bianco, a white table wine, and a Coppola Talia, a sweet white wine named for his sister, the actress Talia Shire who played Rocky Balboa’s girlfriend in the “Rocky” series (“Adriaaaaaaaan!”). It also makes some more expensive, exclusive wines.

If you are looking for a really good, cheap red wine that goes with just about anything, you can’t go wrong with Coppola Rosso. It is versatile, delicious and definitely affordable.

Is there an affordable, delicious wine that you enjoy? Please share your discovery in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!

15 thoughts on “Wine on Wednesdays – Me and Wine

  1. I’m looking forward to this feature. I am not, by any stretch, a wine fan. I will take suggestions from the wine store staff for what might be good for cooking, but I never developed a drinking taste.
    I’ll try some of these (because your word is good enough for me to look closer at the suggestions). Hope I enjoy them as much as you, or at least that I can identify what it is you’re talking about…

  2. I’ve totally become more of a wine fan over the last year. I adore a good Riocha or a lovely Merlot. However, I don’t know loads about wine – I wish I knew more. Thanks for an interesting read 😀

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