Six impressive wines under $50

Six impressive wines under $50

By: Linda Kissam

A wine tasting party is a creative way to gather friends and family together to learn about wine and experiment with new or unusual varietals. A Wine Review Council is a professional gathering of wine writers and wine lovers exploring six wines, each with a complementary dish. It’s still all the sip, swirl and spit one person can handle, but designed to explore wines in more depth than in a casual gathering.

Today’s Wine Council finds five wine writers (Sue Montgomery, Linda Milks, Linda Kissam, Karsten Boone and Robin Dohrn-Simpson), two consumers ( Scott Vinton and Mark Simpson) and one wine photographer (Todd Montgomery) coming together to enjoy an evening of assorted wines under $50 that showcase something special. Most wines are donated by wineries wishing to gain input from the group. The writers are asked to write an article on their experience.  The non-writers (who we call “consumers”) are asked to do some social media and lots of commenting throughout the event. The photographer documents the events and shares his photos with the participants.

Each participant is assigned a wine to research and talk about as well as create a dish for.  Whether pairing wines with specific cheeses, desserts or appetizers, each Council member is responsible for driving their part of the tasting with an “educational” moment and a great dish.  We are looking for nuances in both red wines and white wines as a result of the focused tasting.  Both the wine experts and the wine lovers are expected to give opinions.

Read on for the results of this tip top tasting experience.


  1. Canals & Nubiola Cava  – $30, (Paired with caviar potatoes).  87  points from Cellar Tracker. Macabeo-Xarel-lo-Parellada blend. Cava is Spain’s iconic sparkling wine style (like French Champagne) but with less bubbles and generally a bit sweeter taste. Its name does not come from a place, grape variety or winemaking technique, but from the stone cellars (cavas) in which the wine is matured.  Lovely on first taste, but the group felt the bubbles disappeared too quickly. So sip quickly. Great wine to offer friends who find Champagne too bubbly or yeasty tasting.
  2. 2015 Cotes des rosés, Gerard Bertrand: $15 (Dijon Shrimp). The beauty of this wine begins with the bottle. It is a unique sight with its base in the shape of a rose, created by a young designer from the Ecole Boulle. Many bakers in the group thought the bottom part would make a great cookie cutter. The winery suggests it’s a wine to be given in the same way you would offer a bunch of roses. That’s all fine, but the taste is a true wow. If you like rosé wines, you’ll love this one. Did you note the $15 price?  It’s a steal.  Silver Concours Mondial de Bruxelles Awarded in 2016.
  3. Gerard Bertrand 2011 Laguedoc Syrah/Grenache (Sassy BBQ Meatballs): $18- Critical Acclaim WS90 Wine Spectator – “A ripe aroma leads to rich, concentrated dark plum, kirsch and dried blueberry flavors, with a succulent spiciness. The finish shows touches of smoke, alongside notes of chocolate. Drink now through 2017. Might suggest a less aggressive pairing.  Loved the spicy BBQ style meatballs, but it tended to shout over the wine. Great price point for a solid wine. You can pretty much trust anything from the Gerard Bertrand line.
  4. Adobe Guadalupe 2005 Miguel – (Wedding Soup)Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot. Aged: 10 months in French and American oak $35. This was an exciting find for participants.  The Adobe Guadalupe wines are wonderful.  Deep rich flavors with an elegant backbone.  All the wines in this blend played nicely. If you get a chance to buy the wines in the US, or visit the winery in Mexico, do so with complete confidence that you are experience something very special. And may I say, the pairing was exquisite.
  5. Adobe Guadalupe 2013 Rafael – (Sweet Potato Pizza Snacks) Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo Aged: 12 months in French and American oak, $46.95 Think full-bodied wine, great structure with complementary tannins and good acidity. It is a very intense and elegant wine showing lush red berries, and notes of cinnamon, cocoa, chocolate, and spice. Rafael pairs well with grilled lamb, pasta Bolognese, strong cheeses. The group voted this the hit of the evening.
  6. Adobe Guadalupe 2002 Serafiel – Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah Aged: 10 months in French and American oak. $41.95. This is one of the highest-priced wines made from Cabernet – Syrah/Shiraz in Valle de Guadalupe. Nose is a bit restrained however it exhibits rich mocha, spice and dark fruits on the palate. Medium bodied and elegant. Tannin is surprisingly fine grained and discreet.

Try this recipe with with any of the wines above. The red wines will love the earthy taste of the mushrooms.  The sparkling and rosé wines will love the seafood component.

Shrimp Stuffed Mushrooms
By Chef Debbi Dubbs
Melissa’s World Variety Produce


¼ cup Olive Oil

½ cup Onion chopped

¼ cup Italian Parsley, chopped

6 ounces Shrimp, cooked and chopped (can be substituted with Crab)

1 cup Bread Crumbs

½ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

¼ cup Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth as needed

1 pound Button Mushrooms cleaned with stems removed

Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste


Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until it softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to medium bowl; mix in the parsley, shrimp, breadcrumbs, cheese. Moisten with enough chicken broth so filling will stick together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange mushrooms, rounded side down, on oiled baking sheet. Mound shrimp filling in mushrooms, pressing filling to compact slightly. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake mushrooms until tender and filling begins to brown, about 35 minutes. Serve hot.


Used ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper

Makes 12-15 appetizers.

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