WINE TUTORIAL FOR DUMMIES (please do not read if you already know it all)


I want to start this post with a huge disclaimer:  I do NOT work for the wine companies mentioned in this article.  I am not licensed, or affiliated, or compensated in any way from any of them.  But I certainly have consumed enough of them to at least have an opinion!  And the whole idea of this offering is to educate the Newbies who struggle with What to like, what to take to a party, what will ‘satisfy’ without breaking the bank, and how NOT to be embarrassed by your lack of wine knowledge… (and maybe to make you laugh a little)

Although I am not a ‘expert’, I am an older, experienced person who is no longer  intimidated by other’s opinions. I’ve been drinking wine for a long time.  One of my funniest memories is when we were going to a church where drinking was frowned upon, so I drank it, but kept it hidden.  One Sunday night after church I came around the corner in the Fry’s liquor department with one of those giant gallon sized Gallo Chablis and ran right into one of the Deacon’s wives with the identical bottle in her cart!   And, another little piece of advice to you youngsters.   I have my own struggles in my family with people who think it’s a sin to mix chardonnay with Kern’s peach or Pear Nectar.  It’s been my ‘go to’ drink for years.  One of our funny family stories is about the year my son John got me an expensive bottle of wine for Mother’s Day with an order: “Mom!  You are not allowed to mix this with Kern’s!”.  Wow.  What kind of bossy kids did I raise?  After that, they started getting me a box of wine for gifts, usually around $6.99 for the big box.  Remember the Chablis in the cardboard box for $6.99?  The gift givers are happier and so am I.

You will have to read all the way to the bottom for an explanation of this!

I am a proud, card carrying fan of Trader Joe’s Coastal Chardonnay and their Reserve ($4.49/$4.99 a bottle).  The guys at TJ’s will always help you with wine choices and they don’t try to oversell.  We have had several wine tastings over the years, where we hide bottles in paper bags and guests have to guess the Under $10 and the Over $20 bottles.  The only person I ever remember to get them more than 90% correct was Jim Daggett and my dear friend Liz.  Maybe they had an advantage because Liz was born in France and her Father worked for the famous B&G winery! (or maybe they are just smart!)  I think I can honestly say Liz and Jim are the only two people we know whom we consider to be true connoisseurs.   We love them because they don’t rub their expertise in our face (AND they always bring great wine when we get together!)  I’ll just tell you that at our blind wine tastings many a so-called “expert” has been embarrassed when they couldn’t decipher between the  ‘good’ wines versus the ‘Inferior’.  And Jim and Liz aren’t braggarts.

We have been to lots of  famous places to taste wines.  Napa Valley, Paso Robles, California, and even toured the Loire Valley in France, drinking wine all the way!  A few years ago we hosted an official Wine tasting for our son’s good friend, Jim Gardner, who has a wonderful Arizona Winery in Sonoita, Az. called “Hannah’s Hill”.  We are members of several wine clubs, including the one at our favorite Italian Restaurant, Alessia’s.  They specialize in Italian wines only, and I am learning about those now. (nothing under $10 in that club!). So, I guess I do know a LITTLE about wine, but remember, the whole purpose of this post is to educate the Newcomer who doesn’t want to spend too much, or be intimidated by other’s opinions.  After all, when you take a bottle of wine to a party, unless you sign a card, very few people know who brought what anyway!!!

some of the choices I am currently enjoying.  ALL under $10!

A few years ago our friends, Debra and Jeff, brought us some wine with a name that made us laugh and blush a little.  “Menage a Trois”.  After we tasted it, we all agreed that it was pretty good.  For the last several years, I have bought this wine not just because I like it (and I don’t like most Red wines because they are sometimes bitter or too “Oakey” or a myriad of other complaints).  That, coupled with the fact that they are seldom less than $20 a bottle makes me very reluctant to buy it for fear I won’t like it and therefore will have wasted at least twice the amount I would have paid for Menage a Trois, (at about $8.99 a bottle almost anywhere).  Note: even my semi-snobby wine partner hubby often opens a bottle of one of these in the evening and shares it with me (usually when he’s out of the ‘good stuff’).   Yesterday I was at my local market, and was told by the cashier that if I buy 6 bottles I get 10% off.  That, coupled with the extra coupon on the bottle above, made my purchase at $6.99 a bottle!!  In the last couple of years they have added some new ones (still under $10), “Midnight”, “Silk” and “Lavish”.  I was actually brave enough recently to have our other sophisticated wine drinker, George, over and serve this wine.  He heartily  agreed that it was “pretty darn good”.  Wowsers!  That’s enough for me!

So, I am simply here to give you some advice on a nice little wine to try that you might like for under $10.  If you take it to a party, no one should make fun of you, like they would if you brought “Two Buck Chuck” from Trader Joe’s.  Everybody knows that story, and they’ll know you are a real cheapskate!  Any Menage a Trois is good.  Trader Joe’s Coastal Reserve Chardonnay is good (my hubby always says to serve the cheap wines second, cause no one will notice after the first bottle).  An excellent party suggestion!

here’s my Chardonnay mixed with Kern’s Peach Nectar or Trader Joe’s Georgia Peach!

So, Class:  what have we learned today?

  1.  Don’t let anyone tell you what you should like.  Most people don’t know half of what they brag about.  And if they aren’t nice, get some new friends!
  2. The world is full of people who think they know everything about everything.  What they don’t know is YOU.  And your opinion is just as valuable as theirs.
  3.  Bottom line:  only hang with good people who are nice.  People who always have to act superior to you are usually insecure themselves.  Have a glass of wine today!IMG_4119.jpg

FOOTNOTE:  Just to drive you crazy, the wine in the middle is a wine my Grandson Steven told me about.  Its from Trader Joe’s, and it is $3.99!!!   YES! $3.99!  Our next party is going to be a blind wine tasting.  The gimmick will be to have at least 5 or 6  bottles in paper bags, and all you have to do is find the $3.99 wine!  The grand prize will probably be a bottle of Menage a Trois! (or if I can find it, a painting of Elvis on velvet)

I welcome any feedback from you on good wines under $10.  I will pass it on happily!

Follow me on Instagram, where I do 60 second videos,  and Facebook at askmehowiknowcb.      OR my website,

scuse me.  I’m gonna have a glass of Midnight right now.  It’s great.  ask me how I know!

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