Trusted wine brands

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There is no consensus on which type of bottle closure, cork or synthetic or screw or crown, is best for wine. (Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune / TNS)

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Every year I get a few emails from readers saying they love wine but are put off by all the “rules”. They are intimidated by all the different varieties, labels, prices. Worse yet, there is no one around to offer advice. Navigating the wine wall in the supermarket is a challenge. Below are some wine brands that should take some of the guesswork out of it. If you are a real novice, there is no reason to buy expensive wines to help you determine the difference between a Chardonnay and a Pinot Grigio. You will learn the difference.

Look for those brands that are grape-correct and under $ 7: Sutter Home, Barefoot, Trader Joe’s Moon Series, Fetzer, and Challis Lane (Bev-Mo). Brands under $ 12: McManis, Columbia Crest, Seaglass, Gnarly Head, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Bogle. Brands under $ 16: J. Lohr, Kendall-Jackson, Francis Coppola, Hess, Robert Hall and Hahn. All of them are readily available in the market and are of excellent value. Hope this helps you find a wine you like and can afford. And don’t forget, trust your palate.

A quick escape to East Lodi

Do you feel a little under the weather and need a little wine to recover? Take Friday off, sleep, have a picnic, read the newspaper. Have a late breakfast at the restaurant, take 99 north to Jack Tone Road, head east, count all four-way stops. To put 12470 Locke Road, Lockford, in your GPS, arrive at 11am, get out of the car, follow the signs, walk to LVVR Sparkling Cellars. Taste four sparkling wines, all made according to the French Champagne method, pinch yourself, you are not at work, but tasting champagne instead, buy bubbles. Walk 25 steps to Lone Grape Winery, try the rose syrah, cool music, chocolate treats, and wine smoothies. Get back in the car, put 18921 N. Atkins Road, Lodi, in GPS, arrive at Bokisch Vineyards, taste excellent Spanish grape varieties like albarino, tempranillo, graciano. Spread a blanket, have a picnic, take a nap, wake up, buy wine, charge the car. GPS to 17266 Hillside Drive, Lodi, arrive at GoodMills Family Winery, get out of the car, walk 20 steps, enter the pretty tasting room, try food and wine pairings, big reds, friendly service. Remember – still not at work, buy wine, load the car, turn left on Jack Tone, head west. Exclude four lane stops, merge onto 99, arrive home feeling a lot better because the next day is Saturday.

What’s on our table: This week it’s Lodi’s St. Amant Souzao 2016 ($ 18). Souzao is traditionally a Portuguese grape used for Port wines. As a table wine, it has a deep color, natural acidity and flavors of fresh ripe berries. It’s a multiple gold medalist and more gold in my notes. Limited production, I suggest ordering online. Cheers!

wine, wine line, russ winton, wine tasting, wine column, reds, whites, vino


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