Paul Mas Estate Malbec (Languedoc, France, 2012)

Paul Mas Estate MalbecI’m in Houston tonight, and I had the privilege to entertain a new colleague and friend at a local establishment, Mockingbird Bistro. Which, by the way, if you live in the city and haven’t been here, what on earth is wrong with you? Make a reservation, already.

I had the duck. She had the roast chicken. I want to tell you I had the best entree of the night, but that would be a half-truth. We BOTH had the best entree of the night, and we shared an exception bottle of wine.

I confess that I’m partial to Languedoc, the region of France from which this wine hails. The countryside, the people, the food, the wine, everything really. Which is partially why I selected the bottle for dinner – nostalgia for a past visit and a vague memory of surprisingly excellent (and budget-conscious) wines.

We were, of course, delighted. Paul Mas Malbec is herbal and clean and dry. It was everything I remember wines of this region could be, and it was a perfect complement to the duck.

The wine retails for $12 at Spec’s, just within the Baptist budget. Go grab a bottle and let me know what you think!

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Pop Crush White Blend (California 2012)

Pop CrushPretty, isn’t it? I bought this wine solely for the label. It reminds me of a piece of art. I must warn you, however, that this particular bottle of wine isn’t, in itself, a work of art.

It’s straight-up fruit without any nuance or subtlety. As my husband noted, it “tastes like a wine cooler and not the good kind.”

Ouch.

He’s right though. Not my finest moment in wine selection. Goes to show you – never judge a wine by its label.

And I’m adding that to my list of informal wine rules, right up there next to “Never spend more than $12 on a bottle of wine.”

Now, if wine coolers in fancy art labels are your cup of tea, you can find Pop Crush at Target for $10. But my advice to you is find yourself a bottle of Ironstone Obsession Symphony instead. You’ll thank me later.

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Pet Peeve: Restaurant Wine Prices

I’m not alone in this, I know. For me, it’s the most difficult decision when dining out.

There is, apparently, a secret code for pricing wines at restaurants. And the code is progressive, variable, depending upon the wholesale cost, the prestige of the manufacturer or vintage, the prestige of the restaurant, the availability of the wine, the phase of the moon, and who knows what else. It is, quite frankly, baffling.

There’s nothing more frustrating than looking at a wine menu, seeing a Chez Knighton favorite marked up 3x more than what we can buy it at the grocery store. I KNOW I’m getting ripped off, and I hate it. This isn’t to say I don’t expect and intend to pay more than retail for the dining experience; I just don’t want my nice evening out ruined by a poor value on the wine list.

So, I’ve decided to do something about that. As a public service, for you, my friends.

Introducing: BWC Dines Out

Where I will share popular restaurant wine menus, and their retail prices. So we can find the best values on the list, enjoy great wines when dining out, and avoid getting ripped off.*

For example, I recently dinned at BJ’s Brewhouse, a fairly large chain; there’s probably one near you. BJ’s is primarily focused on beer, hence the name, but they do offer a selection of wines by the glass. One in particular is a Chez K favorite – Nobilio Sauvignon Blanc, offered at $9 per glass. Nine dollars per glass, friends. Which is slightly more expensive than I can buy the entire bottle at HEB. One glass cost more than the whole bottle. Total rip-off. Buy the prosecco on the menu instead, it’s only 2/3 the cost of the bottle.

So that’s the idea. I’ll do what I can to help you find a good value on the wine list. And maybe you could do me a favor, and send some examples of your own. We’d all benefit from the shared wisdom!

*Sorry Clark Howard. I had to steal that line. Because, really, isn’t that what it’s all about? Being a smart consumer and buying value, yes? I say yes!

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