Cheap Wine: When you get a dud instead of a stud

I was extolling the virtues of cheap wine just last Wine Wednesday but some cheap wine is just cheap. There are quite a few cases where expensive wine is bad or even a sham too. I’ve had a few duds this month that I’d like to steer you clear from unless your looking for an innocuous base for Sangria.

 Contadino Pinot Grigio Contodinio in glass

Contadino Pinot Grigio 2012 Vivace $5

This is a semi-sparkling Pinot Grigio from north-eastern Italy. It’s not terrible but it’s not really good either. There is a lot of mineral character here and the fizz dies way too fast. There is also some light sweet citrus flavor but it’s also very acidic. I heard great things about the 2011 but the 2012 just seems to fall short of the love lavished on the year before. The color is enchanting, flashing from topaz to citrine depending on the light and angle of the wine. We rated this wine somewhere around an 80 for it’s lack of depth, high acidity, and for the fizz dissipating in mere seconds from being poured. Cheap wine fail.

Vinho Rose EspiralVihno Rose in glass

Espiral Vihno Rosé $4.50

The way people talk about the Espiral wines at Trader Joe’s you’d think they were akin to the second coming of Christ. Long awaited with centuries of frenzy. I just didn’t see what all the hoopla is about. Nor did my husband and he’s usually easier to please when it comes to wine. It’s light, colorful, fizzy, and has a slight tart strawberry peach flavor. I guess you could say it kinda tastes like strawberry Fanta mixed with sparkling mineral water. It’s also low in alcohol content so it’s more refreshing on very hot days then a traditional wine. If I’m looking for a light, fizzy, and low alcohol wine for hot days, I’d rather go with the Sparkling Lambrusco right across the isle because it’s got more flavor and nuance while still being a simple summer sipper. This one clocks in at 80 points.

Espiral Vinho Verde Vihno Verde in glass

Espiral Vihno Verde $4.50

This one is the only one of these three I’d consider buying again. The nose is very mineral with a white floral and green apple accord. The taste is much the same: lemon, minerals, herbs, and florals. There is a slight granny smith apple flavor on the short finish. It’s light and fizzy but there is a lot of acid. There is way more depth to this wine than the others. I could see it going well with cheese and charcuterie but it certainly needs to be paired with fattier fare to balance the acid. I could also see it making a lovely pear apple sangria.This cheap wine isn’t a complete dud but it’s not a stud either. My husband enjoyed it saying “there isn’t much to it but it’s pleasant”. We rated it as an 83. With a proper paring it might merit another point or two.

Have you recently had a cheap wine that was a total stud? Tell us about it in the comments below!


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