Saturday, May 22, 2010

Five Wine Tasting Party Wines

You've heard it at tastings and dinner parties – or perhaps you've said it yourself: I only drink red (white) wine or I don't like rosé. So when a few ladies came around to wines they never expected to enjoy at a wine tutorial last week, their newfound enthusiasm made everyone's wine discovery even sweeter.

Try these five wines plucked from wine shops and grocers around town for your next wine sampling with friends. All deliver pleasure, flavor and balance with enough variety to keep everyone in the game. Best of all, with prices that range from $5-15, they're also good house wines to enjoy from now into autumn.

Zolo Torrontés 2009: A dry, light white wine with orange blossom aromas, melon and citrus fruit flavors, medium acidity and a fresh finish. Made from Argentina's signature white wine grape, Torrontés is easy drinking by itself that also pairs well with springtime appetizers, crab, seafood and Asian dishes (around $9 at Cost Plus/World Market).

Domaine de la Mordorée Côtes-du-Rhône Rosé La Dame Rousse 2009: Score another win in the war for the rosés. This Grenache-based refresher is dry and juicy with raspberry fruit, a crisp finish and a hint of spice. Uncork with cold cuts, white meats, fried fish, salads, grilled shrimp or Thai food ($15 at LA Wine Company).

Becker Estate Pinot Noir 2007: This medium-bodied German Pinot is Old World in style with cherry and cranberry fruit around an earthy core and sweet smoke on a smooth finish. A different sort of crowd-pleaser for heavier seafood, poultry, pork and lighter beef dishes; screwcap ($15 at LA Wine Company).

Epicuro Nero d'Avola 2006: Epicuro's southern Italian reds are surprisingly good values. Made from Sicily's Nero d'Avola grape, this wine has aromas of dusty earth with blackberry, dark cherry and plum fruit on the palate, food-friendly acidity and soft tannins. At these prices, pick up Epicuro's Aglianico and Salice Salentino, too ($5 at Trader Joe's).

Cannonball Cabernet Sauvignon 2007: A buck cheaper than the 2006 we liked so much last year, the '07 Cannonball delivers blackberry fruit, a hint of cocoa and a perky black peppery finish. It's easily one of the top value Cabs in town. Enjoy with beef and hearty meat dishes, short ribs, barbecue, heavier pasta or pizza dishes and hard cheeses ($10 at LA Wine Company).

Give them a try – or ask your favorite wine merchant for something similar – and let us know what you think. Cheers!

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