Espiral Vinho Verde

Espiral White Wine
Portugal – Vinho Verde
9% ABV
$4.99
My Rating: 86 points
Trader Joe’s

There are many reasons why I love Espiral. Sure, this wine isn’t overly complex, and it probably isn’t winning any awards, but it’s crisp and refreshing and its under five dollars. Plus, it’s only 9% ABV, so Espiral is the perfect daytime sipper for the long, hot Texas summers. It’s on the lighter side, and wouldn’t pair well with anything heavier than a salad, but it pairs perfectly with summer and a pool. Although Vinho Verde literally translates as “green wine,” it is meant as “young wine,” and is meant to be consumed young.  Drink up while the weather is warm.

Pale straw, green apple, slightly effervescent
Pair with: salad, or drink on its own!

Recipe pairing:
Blackened Shrimp and Mango Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

From the winemaker:
“The wines of the Vinho Verde Region in Northern Portugal are characterized by their youth and freshness. Espiral is a refreshing, crisp, medium dry white wine made from selected natives grape varieties in from this region. It is great as an aperitif and pairs well with fish dishes and salads. Serve well chilled”

Il Tarocco Chianti Classico 2015

Il Tarocco Chianti Classico 2015
Italy – Chianti
13% ABV
$8.99
My Rating: 88 points
Trader Joe’s

Many of the bargains I find on wine at Trader Joe’s come from Italy. One of their Barbera D’Asti is my go to “pizza wine” at $5.99 but Il Tarocco Chianti Classico, with its bolder tannins and lingering finish is a better option for more substantial dishes. This wine has the classic tart cherry nose found in many Sangiovese based wines, but is a bit more rustic and would pair nicely with grilled meat or heavier pasta dishes. At $8.99, it’s one of the better Chiantis I’ve tried for under $10.

Deep ruby, tart and black cherry. Leather and spice with firm tannins.

Pair with: grilled lamb chops, grilled Italian sausage, lasagna

Recipe pairings:
Grilled Lamb Chops with Greek Yogurt Sauce

From the winemaker:
“Made from carefully selected Sangiovese (90%) and Canaiolo Nero (10%) grapes. This wine has an intense ruby color and aromas of ripe fruit. This is a well-balanced wine with a nice finish.
Aged in small oak French barrels for twelve months and six months in the bottle to acquire smoothness.
Serve at room temperature with roasted beef, pork or lamb dishes.”

Poggio al Casone Toscana 2010

Poggio al Casone Toscana 2010
Italy – Tuscany
13% ABV
$10.99
My Rating: 88 points
Trader Joe’s

I am a fan of Super Tuscans; they are often big, rich wines. Tuscany is home to some of the most recognized wine regions in Italy, like Chianti, which have specific regulations on which grapes can be used in production and how much.  Like Chianti, many Tuscans contain Sangiovese, either on its own, or blended with grapes that are not native to Italy. This 80% Sangiovese, 20% Syrah blend is well balanced; the acidity that Sangiovese is known for is balanced out by the big tannins found in Syrah. This food friendly wine is a great buy from Trader Joe’s and pairs well with Italian food.

Ruby colored, cherry, wood, with drying tannins. Nicely balanced and medium bodied.

Pair with: pasta dishes, medium/aged cheeses, pizza

Recipe pairings:
Sausage and Peppers
Creamy Chicken a la Vodka
Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

From the winemaker:
“Our Toscana is produced with 80% Sangiovese and 20% Syrah grapes, attentively harvested by hand and selected to give birth to this wine that refines for twelve months in barriques by 225 litres in the cellar of Poggio al Casone Estate, legendary vineyard of the Castellani Family. The estate is situated in Crespina, ancient village on the Pisan Hills just few kilometers from the Tuscan coast.”

Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014

 

Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014
Italy – Piedmont
12.5% ABV
$5.99
My Rating: 87 points
Trader Joe’s

There is a lot to like about Rosa dell Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2014.  At only $5.99, it is a small fraction of the price of Rosa dell Olmo’s underwhelming $14.99 Barolo, but much more enjoyable.  First of all, it’s hard to beat the price.  Trader Joe’s carries more than a few wines in the $6 range, but not all of them are drinkable.  This Barbera is a pleasant, everyday table wine with 12.5% ABV, so you can enjoy more than one glass, especially with pizza or just some cheese and crackers.  The bottle refers to distinct “red fruit” and they’ve nailed that description.

Ruby colored, maraschino cherry, black cherry

Pair with: pizza, light pasta dishes, poultry dishes, medium aged cheeses

Recipe pairings:
Everyone’s Favorite Mac and Cheese
Chicken Scampi
Zucchini Pesto with Chicken and Farfalle

From the winemaker:

“An everyday and easy to drink red wine.  Deep ruby red in color, with pleasant and distinct red fruit notes, it is dry and rich, and has a remarkable silky texture.”