Linda’s March Pick: How Low Can We Go?

Cheap Wine Challenge

The other day I was walking through Whole Foods and saw one of their wine promos advertising some bottle for $3.99. $3.99? That’s Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck cheap! I was skeptical (and my cart was full) so I passed on it that day. But the thought kept nagging me that (theoretically at least) the wine buyer at Whole Foods should know what’s a decent wine and even the cheap ones they’re stocking should be good enough to drink.

By the time I got back to Whole Foods that promo was over, so I scanned the section for the cheapest bottles I could find and picked up two reds. Harthill Farms Cabernet Sauvignon and 2009 Old Vine Carignan Vin de pays de L’aude. The first cost me a whopping $4.99 and the second $6.99.

With high hopes, I cracked open the Harthill Farm Cab first. As I was explaining to Chris what I bought, I noticed that it doesn’t even have a vintage on the bottle. Yikes. Visions of unused grapes from different years and different vineyards bounced through my head as I quickly braced myself for what I now knew was coming. (Oh, yea, second problem? Their cork was a standard issue grape image. No vineyard name. Nothing.) I picked up the glass to smell the wine and put it back down just as quickly. Was that soap? Ick. Giving it the benefit of the doubt, I took a sip and quickly wished I hadn’t. I gave it to Chris to try and the result wasn’t much better: “Ugh, church wine is way better than this.”

Bottom line? Save your money and skip this one.

The Old Vine Carignan fared a little bit better. (What wouldn’t after that last bottle?) It was light on the full-berry flavor but easy enough to drink. Nothing that you’d want to bring to a party or a dinner, but probably doable for a house red. Chris put it a little more succinctly: “Perfect for your 8th glass of wine.” Not that we ever drink eight glasses of wine, Mom!

All in all, I wouldn’t call the experiment a total bust — the Carignan was at least drinkable. But we did establish two things: our lower limit for wine is probably around $10, and if we’re gonna buy cheap, we’re gonna go to Trader Joe’s or BevMo!

Cabernet Sauvignon, Linda's Pick

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