Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert! How do you feel about buying wines or beers from a discount bin or shelf? The two questions that pop up the most when considering the purchase of a discounted beer or wine is often, “Why is it so cheap?” and, “What is wrong with the product?”. These are both fair questions and for myself personally, it can be hard to resist a great deal, even when it seems too good to be true.

This week I tried three discounted products to test their quality and to see if saving a few bucks is worthwhile. My previous forays into the world of bargain bin beverages have resulted in some fantastic deals like the Taylor Fladgate white Port or the Elise red wine from France. By rough calculation, my success rate in finding delicious wines and beers in the discount section is around 85%. There have been a few duds including the expensive Burgundian red I wagered on but overall, I’ve found some excellent deals.

My first taste was the Charm pale ale from District Brewing which cost $8 (down from $14) and I was delighted to discover that the beer was in fantastic shape. In this instance, I believe the product was simply being cleared to make room for new beers in the cooler so I regret not buying more. The second product was the Dona Paula Altitude Series red blend. This wine was disappointing as I could tell that it had a lot of potential (judging from the delicious aftertaste/finish). This wine is certainly faulted and some flavor can be found, but the essential character of the wine is flat and muted. There is no life in this Argentinian wine and that can be detected immediately from the first sniff and sip. As the Dona Paula was the most expensive of the three options, this was the most disheartening purchase.

My final pick was the Hommage; a red wine from the Cotes du Rhone region of France. This red is what makes bargain bin hunting so much fun: I found a deliciously fruity wine for a steal of a deal ($20). This wine still has life in it and the fruity plum and violet notes made my heart race slightly before I even got the glass up to my nose. It’s great to find an affordable red with such lively intensity and this wine will make an amazing option for fall-time suppers. It will taste great with smoked hams, sausages, perogies, roasts and grilled foods.

There may be a bit of risk when trying some of these discounted products but the good news is that most stores will offer an exchange if the product is bad or unsatisfactory. Here are my wine and beer picks of the week!         

Hommage Côtes du Rhone 2019: (AOC Côtes du Rhone, France). Dry red, deep ruby color. The aroma of this French wine is fruity and intense with a burst of plums, cherries and violets. On the palate, those lovely candied fruit flavors impact immediately with sweet violets, plums, cherries, pomegranates and Thrills soap candy (light, sweet and floral). The intensity is excellent and the medium concentration brings a nice level of flavor without becoming too heavy. This red is uncomplicated and pleasant to sip on with a fruit-filled mid-palate leading into a long finish of sweet peppery spice and nutmeg. Medium-plus body with a silky, smooth texture. Medium acidity balances the wine and blends in well with medium-plus tannins. The combination of tannins and lingering fruit is satisfying and flavors of lightly toasted oak and spice bring me back again and again. A simple, yet fruity French wine that is a killer deal for around $20. Drink now and buy a few bottles to share with guests. I would recommend buying a case but the wine should be drank within a year or two. Pair with hearty meat dishes like stews, roasts or anything served with gravy such as mashed potatoes freshly dug from the garden. Very good! $20, 14.5% ABV

Dona Paula Altitude Series 2019 Red Blend: (Uco Valley, Argentina). Dry red, deep purple color. The nose has very low intensity with small glimmers of blueberry, red grapes and cherries. The initial flavors found in this red are hard to pinpoint as the wine tastes flat, muted and wiped out. Acidity is medium with a full-bodied weight. It seems like there should be way more going on here as the mid-palate is hardly active. The fruit flavors found on the first taste and mid-palate are flat and only on the finish do I begin to taste the flavors I expected since the beginning. The finish is actually delicious with juicy currants, blueberries, cherries, grape skins, toast, and lovely, warming spice notes of pepper and cinnamon. High tannins give a satisfying grippy feeling/texture. If these flavors were present throughout the entire experience, this would be a knockout wine. This wine is faulted however, and while it is still drinkable, it is difficult to enjoy despite the long, tasty finish. Average! $25, 14.5% ABV 

District Brewing Charm Pale Ale: (Regina, SK). A pale ale with a hazy, medium-gold appearance and orange core. The smell coming from the beer is full of bright citrus, floral hop notes, malt and sweet grain/cereal. To the taste, the beer is lively and flavorful with excellent carbonation and a balanced, medium amount of bitterness. Citrus and cereal notes fill the mid-palate and the beer finishes clean and refreshing. There is a bit of weight (medium) to this pale ale which adds substance and as the finish kicks in, some delicious malty flavors and floral hops give a bit of bitter bite. Each sip is rewarding and refreshingly crisp. Before you know it, the glass is empty! Pair with hot, fresh pretzels (with mustard of course), pickled eggs or other salty snacks. Very good! $14/4 Pack ($8 on sale), 5.1% ABV

Cheers and thanks for reading!