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I wasn’t around for the very first days of WinoStuff, but it was close.  It was at a Thanksgiving holiday feast at the WW Estate that Wino John told me about his site and suggested that I might be interested in helping out.  The Christmas break was slow that year and I used my vast network surfing capability to find websites for vineyards around the world and add them to our treasure trove of links.  Quickly, I realized that WJ and Wino Bob were getting the fame with their regular advice to the wine lovelorn and I lobbied WJ for my own irregular column.  I’ve tried to lobby other good friends of mine to contribute and succeeded in getting Wino Mike to contribute for a while….but, unless he gets back into the writing mode, we can’t keep the crowd that he attracts happy for too long (if you know what I mean).  Being Captains of Industry during the daytime, WJ and I have tried to solicit a writer of female persuasion (oops, that’s what Bob does all of the time) to diversify our pages.  Wino Diana, a friend of Sometimes a Wino Sharon and me, has promised to contribute material but she’s too interested in that world class wine consumption title.  So, ladies, we’re looking for diversity and if anyone out there would like to try their hand at irreverent and irregular scribing, we’re looking.

Consumer Reports magazine provided a column on wine bargains this past month (that would be the December issue).  It was notable that they only provided bargains in the Merlot and Chardonnay varietals (confirms other evidence of the conspiracy plot to keep Cabernet prices high).  The best buy among Chardonnays was Yellow Tail from Australia.  At $7 a bottle, it was rated #3 behind Chateau Souverain (from Sonoma County) and St. Supery (Napa) which were $14 and $16 per bottle respectively.  The best buys among Merlots were Concha y Toro (from Chile) at $9 per bottle, Sterling Vineyards (Napa and $23/bottle), Yellow Tail (Australia and $7 per bottle), and Bogle Vineyards at $10 per bottle.  Charles Shaw Merlot made the rankings and given its price at Trader Joe’s stores ($2, hence the nickname, Two Buck Chuck), may be the best buy of all.  The same article rated three wine chillers (great, I provided a review of these for 'Stuff almost three years ago) and confirmed what I thought:  Sub-Zero at $2100 is the best, but the Haier (made in China) at $285 isn’t bad and beats the ULine at $900.

This is the time of the year where we start receiving boucoup merchandise catalogs in the mail.  And, if you ever happen to order from one of them, you might receive 10 from the same merchandiser.  Anyway, I’ll report next time on my top 10 gift ideas for winos.  Meanwhile, I’m looking for the catalog where I spied my perfect inexpensive gift.  For months, I’ve eyed the Big Bold Red Glass by Spiegelau.  This glass will hold a full bottle of wine (that way, WB can say that he only had two glasses).  It retails for $99.95 at most wine joints, but I saw a non-Spiegelau glass for $19.95.  I’d rather buy the non-crystal one for my wino buddies (sorry, WJ, but you’re getting the non-crystal if I can find it).  Winos, email me if you can find the $19.95 version.  I think the wife threw out my wine catalogs while in a cleaning frenzy.

I received a flyer from one of my favorite retailers in Maryland, WinoStan of Midway Discount Liquors in Joppa, MD (  WinoStan used the wino term probably before we did.  His email address is  I think he used the term wino because most of his friends didn’t think anyone other than winos drank wine (Stan comes from the old school).  Anyway, Stan’s flyers usually portray his Top 12 as a sampler case.  I thought his most recent sampler was probably an accurate portrayal of what’s happening in the affordable wine market these days.

  1. Milton Park Shiraz 2002 ($7.99/bottle) – Australia

  2. Saintsbury Garnet Carneros Pinot Noir 2002 ($17.99/bottle) – California

  3. Cousino Macul Dona Isidora Riesling 2002 ($7.99/bottle) – Chile

  4. Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc 2002 ($8.99/bottle) – France

  5. Cuvee M Mumm Napa Non Vintage ($16.99/bottle) – California

  6. Castle Rock Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($12.99/bottle) – California

  7. Evans & Tate Gnangara Unwooded Chardonnay 2003 ($9.99/bottle) – Austral.

  8. Arbanta Rioja Bodegas Biurko Gorri 2002 ($9.99/bottle) – Spain

  9. Berger Gruner Veltliner 2002 liter ($10.99/bottle) – Austria

  10. Villanova Pinot Grigio 2002 ($13.99/bottle) – Italy

  11. LaCorte Solyss Negroamaro 2002 ($12.99/bottle) – Italy

  12. Aramis Rouge Cote de Gascogne 2002 ($8.99/bottle) – France

I was surprised to see three of the 12 from California, but they were among the most expensive.  No single digit wine prices from there. Of the remaining wines, two selections were from Australia, two from France, two from Italy, one from Spain, one from Chile, and one from Austria.  The market is expanding and your ability to track it all is diminishing as the market expands.  That’s why you need a retailer you can trust, or a savvy advisor such as Wino Bob.  Either way, if you buy a wine from Stan and you don’t like it, he’ll take it back.  If you don’t buy these from Stan, don’t ask him to take them back.  Meanwhile, check out his recommendations and prices and drive to Joppa.  It’s just across the border from the states of Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Wino Wally
Baltimore, MD
November 16, 2003




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