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Culture / Foodie Events

A $6 Trader Joe’s Special Worth Drinking

It’s Not All Two-Buck Chuck — Go Ahead and “Splurge”

BY // 01.05.16

There was a time when I shopped often at Trader Joe’s; I’d buy fresh vegetables and fruit, and some great frozen biryani dishes. I’d also take a stroll through the wine sections and pick up a few bottles of wine — yes, I bought Two-Buck Chuck, but I also found some everyday drinking wines that were not bad at all, especially for the price.

This was when I lived in New York, and until I moved to Houston, in 2013, I had not stepped foot into a Trader Joe’s store since 2005. Recently, I decided to sample a few wines from the chain, and I’ll be tasting them during the next several months.

I’m starting with a 2012 from Salice Salentino. It’s 80 percent Negroamaro and 20 percent Malvasia Nera, from Epicuro. (It’s a mass-market wine, and I tasted it with that in mind.) It’ll cost you about $6 or so, and I daresay you should give it a try.

You’ll taste plum and perhaps blackberry, and if you decide to make some pasta (Italian sausage, tomato sauce with onions and garlic and carrot, perhaps a few chili flakes), this will be a great wine for your efforts. It’s deep ruby in color, courtesy of the Negroamaro, and the floral Malvasia Nera gives it a fine bouquet. I paired it with a potato au gratin (Comté, lardons, cream), and the richness of the cheese and butter made the wine brighter, in a very pleasant way. The blackberry made its way to blueberry.

Will you remember this wine a year from now? I would guess not. But when you open it, and pour and drink it, it will please you. That’s not a small thing.

Want more wine? Try these stories:

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Ms. Champagne Wants a Nebuchadnezzar
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Houston’s Wine Whisperer Has a Soft Touch
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Mr. Pinot Noir: Donald Patz of Patz & Hall
A Cork Dork Wants to Spend More Time in Tuscany
Sommelier Turned Restaurateur Daringly Goes Greek
Texas Master Sommelier Debunks Wine Geeks
A Bottle From Gigondas Changed This Houston Man’s Life

Oil Man Falls in Love, and the Rest is Good-Taste History
Ryan Cooper of Camerata is a Riesling Man
Mixing It Up With Jeremy Parzen, an Ambassador of Italy
Sommelier at One of Houston’s Top Wine Bars Loves Underdogs

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