College Student's BYOB ritual: En route downtown, you make your cab pull over in front of Wine and Spirits at 41st and Market. You run out and grab the first cheap bottle you see. If you have a bit more time, you might scan the shelves for a moment, then settle upon a bottle with a cool-looking label. For those who are recently or not yet legal, the world of tannins, aromas and grape varietals remains an enigma. Still, even the novice freshman will be able to taste the difference between these recommendations of Svetlana Googins, wine manager at Penne Restaurant and Wine Bar, and that familiar glass (plastic cup) of Franz.
Googins' advice provides a handful of "interesting" wines that fall into the inexpensive range (under $15). Although they may not all be available at Wines and Spirits at a given time, Googins says these wines are pretty easy to find at local stores. She suggests avoiding wines produced by large companies like Beringer, Mondavi and Rosemont, which she finds "very boring." So next time you BYO, take an extra few minutes to seek out one of these recommended bottles.
Principessa Gavia Gavi 2002, Piedmont, Italy ($12.99)
Food matches: Seafood and shellfish
Expert's comments: "Crisp and delicate with very attractive apple, flowers and light lemon peel flavors. This wine will make your romantic dinner even better."
Bonny Doon Vineyard Pacific Rim Riesling 2002,
Food matches: Poultry and seafood.
Expert's comments: "In spite of its laid-back style, Bonny Doon takes its wines seriously. This Riesling is clear and focused, with great concentration of apply, peachy and tropical fruit aromas."
Brancott Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2004, Marlborough, New Zealand ($12.99)
Food matches: Salads, shellfish, poultry and cream sauced pasta.
Expert's comments: "Aromas of gooseberry, grass, citrus and passion fruit. Zippy and refreshing. Great price for Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough.
Monte Antico 2002, Tuscany, Italy ($12.99)
Food matches: Great versatile wine; "The combination of ripe fruit and zippy acidity makes this wine a good match with a wide variety of food."
Expert's comments: "A medium body, warm-hearted red with black cherry, earthy and caramel flavors."
Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2000, Sonoma,
Food matches: Beef dishes, ribs and red meat.
Expert's comments: "A wine that I can recommend year after year, because it is one of the most reasonably-priced California producers with consistently delicious wines. This is a lush, ripe and delicious Cabernet with dark plum, cherry and blackberry flavors."
Brancott Vineyards Pinot Noir 2004, Marlborough,
New Zealand ($12.99)
Food matches: White meats like fish, veal, pork and chicken.
Expert's comments: "This wine has complex aromas of ripe black cherry and raspberry. Soft, medium-bodied and very well balanced with lots of ripe, dark fruit flavors on the palate, silky tannins and a medium, crisp fruit finish. Great price."
Goats Do Roam 2004, Pearl Valley, South Africa ($9.99)
Food matches: Light meat dishes, garlic enhanced pasta dishes and "approachable enough to drink alone."
Expert's comments: "A fun wine with 'cute' label and interesting story of the name on the back label. Goats do Roam plays upon the famous C‹¨«tes du Rh‹¨«ne region of France. Easy drinking wine with juicy ripe red and blackberry fruit with a dash of spice"