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Sunday, February 26, 2006

I drank a $7 bottle of wine and kept my sanity.

The Bargain Queen is looking on the bright side of Australia's wine glut, and that bright side is fantastic cheap cleanskin wines. (For readers who aren't wine buffs, a cleanskin wine is bottled without the winery's name on it. When demand for wine is high, they're often crap that noone will admit to making, but when supply outstrips demand, some very drinkable wine is sold this way.)

The Bargain Queen and Mr Bargain Queen were recently in Melbourne to visit family and stopped by Prahran Markets for some yummy food. They also discovered 6J's Wine Merchants. This shop is brilliant! To start with, they gave the kind of old-fashioned, helpful customer service that The Bargain Queen rarely finds anywhere. They provided plenty of wines and glasses for tasting, plus a price list and reasonable delivery charges for interstate customers. The shopkeeper offered to create a mixed case specifically to Mr & Mrs Bargain Queen's tastes, and managed to make this offer without creating any purchasing pressure!

But more importantly, The Bargain Queen likes the wines. After trying two or three, we settled on a Murray Valley merlot... for $6.99 a bottle! Now you never get Grange for that money, but you also don't often get something drinkable. This wine was miles from the petrol/dishwater hybrid The Bargain Queen expects for $7 a bottle, and compares favourably to many $12+ bottles we've tried. As a day-to-day drinking wine, it's a nice earthy accompaniment for the vegies and dips we ate with it.

If you like a glass of wine with dinner as much as The Bargain Queen does, it's a great time to try some cleanskins and find a drop that's friendly to both the budget and the palate. Cheers!

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