• I like to post about cheap decent wines for all those college students (me) and poor folk alike. Just because you consider asking the local bums for change before they ask you (maybe that’s just me) doesn’t mean you should have to suffer without your Top Ramen’s (6 for $.99 at Vons) wine pairing.

    I live a full life on the low low on occasion and so can you.

    Trader Joe’s has some incredible wines that should sometimes be priced two to three times what they are on the shelf. In fact I’m consuming one right now.

    Gaetano D’Aquino Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie, Veneto Italy 2011

    With a bit of lime zest, pineapple and grapefruit on the nose this crisp white from Italy has a fresh zing that awakens your taste buds and goes great with nearly everything. It seriously is an incredible bargain that will not disappoint even the stodgiest wine drinkers when they learn that it costs $3.99. The aromatics translate so fabulously to the palate that you can taste the wine just by smelling it.

    Veneto is home to a region that produces wine you might be familiar with. It’s known as Chianti.

    side note: Chianti is required by D.O.C.G. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) law to contain a minimum off 80% Sangiovese. The DOCG is the Italian wine category and each region with this label has a very strict set of rules they must adhere to in order to make the style of wine remain consistent.

    Earlier today I went on a picnic at CalTech and enjoyed a delightful pink wine which I had placed in Mason jars for legality sake (‘oh officer it’s just watered down cranberry juice I swear’)

    Quinson Fils 2011 Cotes de Provence rosé

    Another $6 wine from Trader Joe’s. This one is dry yet tastes like strawberry candy and raspberry. It’s so quaff-able that you don’t even notice you’re drinking it. Which is good and bad. Good because you enjoy it, it goes well with your food whatever that may be, and it is young and poppy. Bad because it’s unremarkable and not very complex. That said I highly recommend it for the price because damnit it pairs so well and everyone will enjoy it.

    I paired it with a ceviché of cucumber, snapper, jalapeño and avocado as a first course. Then in addition I had sourdough bread sandwiches of pulled chicken, a mayo/mustard dressing, mache, crispy onion and avocado. There may have also been some Have’a chips (made by Hare Krishnas in Laguna Beach) eaten, and it went smashingly with everything! The wine being drunk from mason jars on a glorious day amidst beautiful surroundings might have affected this.




    The jars were then filled with a tasty $5 Lambrusco from Trader Joe’s (hey don’t judge me), and the location was changed to the Huntington Library and Botanical gardens. We took to the gardens/library with a vengeance enthralled by the many cacti, nishikigoi (koi) fish, unbloomed roses, bonsai trees (evidently touching them is prohibited.. so was drinking wine, but that never happened.. wink wink), and books the size of small people.




    The red, slightly fizzy (frizzante in Italian), hint of sweet wine is low in alcohol and meant to be enjoyed… well enjoyed sitting on a bench in a garden on a Saturday afternoon when you should be studying for those two exams that you have on Tuesday.

    The wine went well with the bite of chocolate that I had.



    Le Grotto Lambrusco Rosso 

    Trader Joe’s had this to say about their wine.. (they also have a blanco version)

    Le Grotte Lambrusco is tangible, drinkable proof that sparkling wine does not have to be expensive to be extremely enjoyable. We have a red, Rosso, and a white, Bianco, from Italy’s Medici winery. Both bubblies are made with the same red Lambrusco grape: to make the Bianco, the juice and the skins are separated immediately after pressing to achieve the pale color; for the Rosso, they are fermented together, resulting in a ruby-red hue.

    Both of these Lambruscos are frizzante, or slightly effervescent, and dolce, or sweet, making them ideal for holiday gatherings where celebration is on the schedule. We’re selling each 750 ml bottle for $4.99*, a celebration-worthy value you’ll find only at Trader Joe’s.


    I’ve also quite enjoyed the Mouton Cadet Bordeaux Blanc 2011

    This blend is available at Trader Joe’s for $8 and  is vibrantly crisp (Sauvingon Blanc) yet full and smooth (Semillon)

    The winemaker’s notes:

    Brilliant straw yellow. A complex and elegant nose, on which boxwood aromas mingle with tropical fruit and citrus notes, especially grapefruit. A harmonious wine with a full, fruit-driven attack, displaying a range of citrus and white blossom flavors and a nicely mineral touch on the finish. A good balance between roundness and freshness. A highly elegant wine that leaves lingering fruit flavors in the mouth.

    Serve with grilled fish, sole meuniere or salmon with fresh pasta.

    I’m still imbibing my Pinot Grigio which I will pair with the tacos I am going to make in just a moment.

    I love wine, but I adore a wine that is better than its price tag. Please do me a favor and spend less for more. I will feel so much more accomplished if you do.

    If a comet crashed into the moon and the moon fell out of orbit destroying half of the planet most of us call home leaving only a quasi post apocolyptic ragtag band of misfit Mad Maxians hell bent on making life miserable even as I scrounged for canned food, a mountain dew and a half eaten Twinkie whilst fighting off the hordes with only a plastic spoon and a slingshot made from the inner tube of the twelve speed I found in the backyard. I will at least have made a difference. A difference that may only be truly realized by myself, but that is like Robert Frost and the road not taken (insert expletive here.)

    – Jonathan Hood

    That’s right. I went there. Whatcha gonna do about it. Nah just kidding I’m not trying to start anything.

    As the Hare Krishnas say ‘Joy Love and Light’ baby.. joy love and light.