For most people, the holidays are a time for splurging. On food and on drink. For Don Day, no days are a time for splurging. Because if you drink cheap, you can drink wine almost every day of your life.
With the holidays coming up, I thought I’d share four of my favorite bottles. They cover four of the most popular grapes, three reds and one white (because Don Day drinks about three times as much red as he does white). Each wine has been chosen to accompany each of the four meats we eat most at this time of the year. And all of the bottles are less than 20 bucks U.S./Canadian.
All four of the wines are from South America and all four are available at La Europea, San Miguel de Allende’s best place to buy wine. If you know La Europea, you’ll also know that they’re not always the best at managing inventory so don’t be surprised if they’re out of stock. If you don’t know La Europea, then you’re just not drinking enough.
Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 189 pesos
This has been one of Don Day’s go-to reds for years with Don’s wine rack having an almost permanent reservation sign for this Argentinean gem. Cousiño Macul is very reminiscent of California Cabernet Sauvignons except it’s only a titch more than half the price of comparable Californians. You’ll taste berries and plums, as well as herbs and spices, and some nice tannins despite the fact that Cousiño Macul is not aged in oak. There might be nothing better under $20 that’s so perfect with a big slab of beef.
Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Reserva 219 pesos
Don Day is not a big Pinot Noir lover. Usually because he can’t afford the big Pinot Noirs he loves. This one is an exception though and it just may be the best value Pinot anywhere. It’s fresh and fruity and would be absolutely perfect if you’re planning to gobble a turkey. Coming from Chile, it has the typical new world berry flavors you’d hope for but also has the depth and character you’d only expect in a French Burgundy. I would like to see La Europea’s price a little lower (the wine is $10.95 in Toronto) but at 219 pesos, it’s still a bargain.
Santa Carolina Merlot Reserva 100 pesos
Don usually likes his Merlot in a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon but this is an exception. Particularly when it’s a steal at only 100 pesos. If you have any plans for the porcine pleasures of ham over the holidays, this Chilean Merlot would be my choice. It’s full of fruit with strawberries, cherries and blackberries all coming through on the nose and the tongue.
Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 195 pesos
Don Day used to drink Sauvignon Blancs from France but, as the French became more expensive and the Chilean kept getting better, Don changed. The cool climate, altitude and proximity to the sea seem to make the Aconcagua Region of Chile the perfect home for the grape. Today Errazuriz is Don’s favorite inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc. I can taste mango, apple and grapefruit along with a steely acidity that makes it great alone or with food. Errazuriz would be my first choice for any chicken or fish dish you’re having over the holidays.
And remember, if La Europea is out of stock of any of these wines, if you can’t be with the wine you love, love the wine you’re with.