Vino & Veritas: Really cheap wine

BY DUNCAN CHAISANGUANTHUM

Duncan:

Welcome to the Public Interest wine column. Since the OPIA folks take it upon themselves to act in our interest (ostensibly), we thought we would return the favor. Thus, we dedicate this column to wines OPIA types can afford, with screw-tops and artificial flavors. Let’s see if OPIAtes have the intestinal fortitude to pursue careers of moral rectitude. At least you’ll be a little less hammered in some cases.

Boone’s Farm Snow Creek Berry ($2.99/750mL): Nearly colorless and tasting of heavily sugared raspberries, this “flavored apple wine product” delivers “country style premium quality” that rivals “potted meat product.” Public interest-ers, get ready to drink lots of wines that are self-proclaimed “wine products.” A mere 5 percent alcohol (low wreckage factor).

Arbor Mist Strawberry White Zinfandel ($4.49/750mL): Light pink, no nose at all, stings the tongue. Tastes like…strawberries! A measly 6 percent alcohol. Buzz-worthy!

Franzia Chillable Red Table Wine with Natural Flavors ($1.95/750mL, $12.99/5L): Who can argue with “America’s Most Popular Wine,” packed in a five-liter stay-fresh mylar pouch in a cardboard box with a handy dispensing nozzle? Heck, who could have a beef (literally and figuratively) with a red wine that should be “serve[d] chilled” and has an expiration date? Sour armpit on the nose, sweet mold on the tongue. Nine percent alcohol.

MD 20/20 Red Grape Wine, Banana Red and Kiwi-Lemon ($2.99/750mL): Yes, we tried three different flavors of MD 20/20 because, darn it, we love you people. All of these “wines,” which the bottles assure us are indeed made from “grapes,” should be “serve[d] cold.” I would recommend serving these products very cold to people whose taste buds have been surgically removed. Red Grape (18 percent alcohol) tasted and nosed of alcohol, although Asian friend and co-RECORD columnist Eugene Mar reported “wasabi on the nose.” Banana Red (13 percent) evoked cries of “eww, tastes like banana Runts.” Kiwi-Lemon (13 percent) was anti-freeze colored and flavored.

Oy! I understand a certain 3L is genuinely put out that I, a goy, would employ Yiddish without his permission. Now, I would feel like a schlemiel had I misused “kvetch,” but given my correct usage I say only this: I’ll stop with the Yiddish when you give up English.


Michael:

Admittedly, I am somewhat of a wine snob when it comes to how much money I spend on wine. I generally spend over $25 on most bottles I drink and I never purchase a bottle of wine under nine dollars unless I am trying to review wines within the constraints of the RECORD’s paltry wine budget or plan to use the wine for cooking. (One piece of advice: Don’t bother buying wines labeled for cooking. Such bottles are inferior wines that are heavily salted. Simply buy an inexpensive bottle of a red or white. Henceforth, the only excuse you have after reading this column for purchasing a “cooking wine” is being under 21 years of age.)

Of course, these prophylactic rules reflect my preferences. I prefer a cold beer to a cheap glass of wine, NL baseball to AL baseball and Jennifer Aniston to Courtney Cox. For those who do enjoy the quest for good five dollar bottles, I offer some advice: Try more obscure grape varietals. You are more likely to discover a value Gewürztraminer than a bargain merlot. Likewise, try more obscure regions. This rule applies to all alcohol: I hear that Liquor World of Somerville produces highly affordable vodka. Finally, regardless of how much money you decide to spend on your wine, I implore you to never buy anything that Duncan and I sampled today.

Boone’s Farm Snow Creek Berry ($2.99/750mL): Unsurprisingly, Boone’s Farm’s biggest fan at the tasting is a gentleman hailing from the cosmopolitan Maple Lake, West Virginia.

Arbor Mist Strawberry White Zinfandel ($4.49/750mL): The clear winner of the six — this White Zin is basically a Bartles & Jaymes Strawberry Daquiri wine cooler. As an added bonus, the nutrition label on the bottle indicates that I received 6 percent of the recommended daily calcium allowance.

Franzia Chillable Red Table Wine with Natural Flavors ($1.95/750mL, $12.99/5L): Like taking a first date to John Harvard’s. Tastes like orange drink fermented under a radiator.

MD 20/20 Red Grape Wine, Banana Red and Kiwi-Lemon ($2.99/750mL): Mad Dog produces alcohol in a variety of unholy fruit flavor combinations that all manage to resemble pure rubbing alcohol.

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