Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wine on a Dime

By Maureen C. Petrosky

Last Saturday night, after an early mass, my in-laws picked up a bottle of wine and headed out for a dinner date. After hearing “We’re booked solid”, “We can seat you at 10pm”, and “There’s at least an hour wait to be seated” from three separate restaurants, defeated, they headed home for leftovers.

This was not New York City; in fact they were right in Union County, NJ. Needless to say, it left them shaking their heads and wondering about this “terrible economy”. You may have seen the New York Times food page with Mario Batali, Sirio Maccioni, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten sporting sandwich boards advertising sales and open tables. Yet try for a table (at a reasonable time) on the highly coveted Friday/ Saturday night slot and you’ll still be lucky to score.

On the flip side, we attended a wedding recently and a friend slid in the pew next to me, with the air that he’d already been celebrating. In response to the typical How are you, he spat, “I got laid off this afternoon”. It’s brutal. Whether you’re looking for work, just trying to enjoy a hard-earned retirement, attempting to buy your first house, or struggling to sell the one you seem to be stuck with, our present economy, or just talk of it, is depressing. The silver lining here: there’s good news in wine, in that there are plenty of great affordable wine to help you get through these times. The number of great wines to be had for under $20 is astounding, and there’re even some gems for $10 and under.

Here’re a sassy red and a lovely bubbly that will turn that pocketbook’s frown upside down.

Borsao Crianza, 2006, $15 This rich red hails from Spain’s Campo de Borja region. The wine smells fabulous, with a nose full of ripe fruit that explodes in your mouth. Great tannin structure, with hints of vanilla and lots of spice make this is a memorable wine. If you only want a sip- no worries, it’s even better on the second day!

La Marca Prosecco Di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene $12.99 Let this bubbly help you ring in spring. One of the best Proseccos out there. It’s medium- bodied, with fun flirty citrus flavors and great minerality for a clean crisp finish.

Both of these bottles can be found at Joe Canal’s, where a free membership gets you an even further discount: this month bringing the Borsao to $12. At Joe Canal’s if you buy a case of mixed wine you save 10% anytime and they email members each week with all of their sale items.

For more wine on a dime, you can find my picks of ten wines under $20 worth a whirl on

For more great wines under $20, see the April issue of New Jersey Life, on newsstands March 31 and online March 18

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