Comparing Wine Choices With the Broke Wino

By Carrie Becker in Food on May 26, 2010 7:20PM

samklingberg.JPG Reviewing Carolyn Evans Hammond's Good, Better, Best gave us an idea to expand on our frugal wine hunting. We decided to check in with local wine blogger Sam Klingberg, author of The Broke Wino, to help us create a list of our top wines under $15. If you are broke (or even just a little frugal) and like wine, Sam’s blog is a must read.

Sam shared with us not only picks he likes but also “producers that we know offer great value across their lines. They are good wines to try on their own, but also great introductions to cool places and producers.”

Following is a list of our picks:

White Wine

The Broke Wino: Gouguenheim Torrontes, $7.99
Malbec is the flagship grape of Argentina, but Torrontes is its hometown hero. Peachy and full of citrus, they are basically like summer lemonade. Argentina produces some great everyday wines for virtually nothing.

Chicagoist: Ebenauer Grüner Veltliner, $12.75
Its ripe time for some light bodied, crisp white wines (other than your typical pinot grigio) and Grüner Veltliner from Austria is one of the best picks to fit the bill. Pick up the Grüner liter bottle at any of the Lush locations in the city for under $13 and you and your friends will be sipping well on the patio.

Red Wine

The Broke Wino: Perrin et Fils Cotes du Rhone Villages, $13.99
Grenache and Syrah are a match made in heaven. This wine not only kicks ass at under $15, but it introduces you to southern Rhone, and one of its most important producers, which is home to some amazing values in quality wine.

Chicagoist: 2007 Zero Manipulation, $12.99
We always seem to find great value in wine blends. A winemaker will use a variety of different grapes to add complexity and character to create terrific, one-of-a-kind wines. Peterson Winery’s Zero Manipulation can change year on year in both the amount of each varietal and the types of varietals blended. The 2007 is a blend of carignane, petite syrah, syrah and zinfandel.

Rosé Wine

The Broke Wino: Marco Real Rosado, $8.99

I admittedly don't drink a lot of Roses, but I know that Navarra in Spain is a classic producer of rosés from Grenache, which is a grape that lends itself beautifully to fresh, bright roses. This producer, Bodegas Marco Real, also makes some really tasty wines at ridiculous prices.

Chicagoist: 2009 Susana Balbo Crios Rose of Malbec, $9.99
Malbec, Argentina’s most notable grape (next to Torrentes as Sam pointed out) is extremely affordable and is a great go-to for red meat. When Malbec grapes are used to make Rosé, the result is a fruity, fuller bodied rosé that can match with anything you throw on the grill and since it is usually served chilled it can also cool you down on a hot day.

Sparkling Wine

The Broke Wino: Graham Beck Brut, $13.99
This is one of the premier South African producers, and their Methode Cap Classique (Champagne style) wines are some of my favorite value sparklers. It's all about the bubbles, and the mousse in these wines are delicious. You can sometimes find the Rosé for under $15, and that's even better in my opinion (ed. note: we couldn’t agree more about the Graham Beck Rosé and were excited to see if for $13.99 at Wine Discount Center. Grab it before it’s gone at that price.)

Chicagoist: Gran Sarao Brut, $12.99
Cava, the Spanish sister to Italian Prosecco, is a go-to bubbles thirst quencher and usually can be found at a rather inexpensive price. The difference between Prosecco and Cava is that Cava is fermented a second time and usually undergoes fermentation in oak barrels first. Most Cavas will come across a bit more toasty and the Gran Sarao Brut and the Gran Sarao Rosé (found at Provenance Wine store) offers a nice yeastiness.