Last fall I taped an interview with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the delightfully dulcet host of the syndicated radio program The Splendid Table, that somehow didn’t end up airing until Valentine’s Day. You can listen to a podcast of it here. (Mine is the last segment.) I was on with Lynne to promote my humor book The Wine Snob’s Dictionary, but I unwittingly provided some consumer service when she asked me about affordable wines and I sang the praises of cheap red Spanish wines from the Jumilla region. (Pronounced who-ME-ah, though some Wine Snobs actually say jew-MILL-a.) In particular, I mentioned a $12 bottle that drinks like a $40 bottle.
I’ve since gotten lots of queries on what wine in particular I was talking about, so here’s the deal. It was an Olivares 2006 Jumilla Altos De La Hoya (Olivares being the producer, Monastrell being the grape varietal). And it indeed cost $12. My local wine merchant, Rob Allen of New York Vintners, goes so far as to say it’s the best wine under $20 he has ever tasted. Rob doesn’t have the 2006 vintage in stock anymore, but he has the equally good 2007, which sells for a little more, $14 a bottle. And it’s still a bargain. Wine, in my opinion, is not one of those things you should give up in these hard times. Order a case of affordable stuff like this and give up your premium cable channels, or declare a one-month iTunes moratorium. I swear it’s a worthwhile trade-off.