Wining on a Dime

Like many of the greats before us—Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite and Bob Woodward, to name a few—we put our hearts into our journalistic endeavors. The high-octane world of investigative journalism was something we were keen to be involved in, so we decided to investigate four bottles of wine, (each for ten dollars or less) because we love our newspaper, we love our readers and we love America.

Casal Garcia Vinho Verde | 9.5% alc/vol | $8.99. This clear Portuguese white wine caught our eye for two reasons: one, its distinct lack of color in the bottle gave the impression that it would taste like the cheapest of vodkas, and two, its label reading “1L for the price of 0.75L” displayed a Costco-like devotion to value. As a general rule of thumb, avoid wines that sell themselves almost entirely on the premise of price; having said that, the Vinho Verde—which, through some sort of magic, became light green when poured into our glasses—was crisp, refreshing and zesty, among other pompous sommelier labels. But best of all, we got one liter for the price of three quarters of one. That’s what’s really important.

Stone Cap Cabernet Sauvignon | 13.5% alc/vol | $8.99. This red wine is far classier in appearance, with an orange label and sophisticated font. The back of the bottle elaborated on notes of raspberry and black cherry, none of which were recognized as we choked this down. As it turns out, when you buy the cheapest red wine imaginable, it delivers the tart aftertaste of the cheapest red wine imaginable. Yes, the high alcohol content may appeal to college students looking to drunkenly black out on a responsible budget, but it’s also from Washington, and who in their life has ever genuinely said, “I have this really great wine from Washington?”

André Strawberry Moscato | 6.5% alc/vol | $5.99. We love moscato. I mean, we love moscato. This six-dollar strawberry moscato was intended to be a treat, a refuge from the other potentially disgusting wines we would be trying later that night. The bottle described hints of both strawberry and watermelon, both of which we noted. What the bottle didn’t describe was how much it would taste like a Jolly Rancher. Of the four wines sampled, this ridiculously sweet champagne tasted the best, but with its low alcohol content, you may as well just drink soda. Or, better yet, save some money and pull your teeth out now before they get a chance to erode away from the sugar.

Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc | 13.5% alc/vol | $9.99. By the time we were ready to open this bottle of white wine the conversation began to depart from wine and approach a debate over what we wanted to watch on Netflix. Nevertheless, we trudged on like good journalists, sipping down what tasted like Juicy Juice from the Nixon administration, and much like Richard Nixon’s legacy, this wine left behind a decidedly sour aftertaste. It’s a potent product for those who can get past the offensive flavors.

Ultimately, one needs to ask only two questions when deciding on wine: “Will this taste good?” and “Will this make my troubles go away?” The only wine that checked off both of those boxes was the Casal Garcia Vinho Verde, which came out on top as the best wine of the night. The experience was incredibly illuminating, as we both learned that there’s actually no such thing as a great wine for under ten dollars. That, and that Narcos is kind of awesome.