Friday, April 11, 2008
Best Red Wine In Prague For $5, Part 2
The wine's not bad, but the label's awful.
I am on a quest to find the best bottle of red wine in Prague for the equivalent of $5 (around 80 CZK) or less.
In my first post on this topic, I singled out the Merlot or the Cabernet Sauvignon from Brise de France, which can be found in Prague shops for anywhere from 70 to 80 CZK per bottle.
As I said in my previous post, "it's a pleasing wine, pouring a dark, deep, rich red. For the price, it's got a nice little bit of spiciness, with hints of black cherry."
On my new Wino-Meter, which takes into consideration taste, color, bouquet (or what I like to call smell) and price, Brise de France gets an 8 out of 10.
Since then, I've drunk a number of wines all costing 80 CZK or less (in one case, much less) and have had a number of reader recommendations. Let's start with the reader tips.
One gusto reader said the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon from Los Reyes, Cosecha, Chile, sells for under 40 CZK at Norma supermarkets in Prague. At one point, apparently, even selling for 30 CZK. I'd never heard of Norma, but have since discovered it's a German discount chain, which has recently been taken over by a German retail chain, a move that may spell its demise in the Czech Republic. Or has already spelled its demise, since I haven't seen one anywhere.
Can anyone help out with this intriguing mystery? Where the heck is Norma?
Roll Out The Barrels
Another reader wrote to plug the barrel wines available from the wine shops around town, "especially the Chilean Merlot or Argentine Malbec for 55 CZK a liter." There's a wine kiosk in the village of Suchdol, near where I live, and I've enjoyed some drinkable wines from there in the past. I'll have to go back and drink a few more for the purposes of this search.
My only complaint with these wines-by-the-barrel is that the wine is served up in the 1.5-liter plastic bottles usually used for soda, sealed by a plastic top. Their shelf life is thus very limited. Basically, you've got to drink that baby right away (not that that's usually a problem).
'Now That's A Bargain!'
One reader wrote to pass along the "wine tip of the week," saying Tesco is selling the "excellent Rosemount Estate Shiraz for 189.90 CZK -- now that's a bargain!!!" I will definitely have to check that out, but at the equivalent of $12 a bottle, it's way out of the range of this post.
Hollywood & Wine
Speaking of Tesco, however, my good friend Stewart brought over a bottle of California Red Wine from Tesco, which he said cost 54 CZK per bottle, or $3.40.
The label (which sports a drawing of the Hollywood sign) looks pretty crappy, actually. They could have sunk a few more pounds into a more sophisticated design. As for the wine, it's totally drinkable, if forgettable. There's absolutely no finish to it, and it barely makes its presence known to your tongue. It's a decent screw-cap table wine, and for the price a pretty good deal.
On the Wino-Meter, I'm giving it a 6 out of 10.
'Nice, Drinkable' Italian
Another anonymous reader put in a plug for the Merlot 2006 IGT, Cielo family, from Veneto, Italy, selling at Interspar for 67-79 CZK per bottle. "It is nice, drinkable, I think in this category," the anonymous reader said, going on to say: "Czech red wines are terrible if cheaper than 120-150 CZK, especially those you can buy in supermarkets. And they are often only bottled here, but made of low quality grapes from Italy and Hungary anyway. (It is written by very small letters on the rear side of bottle.) Almost only chance to find good and cheap red wine is to visit winemakers and their wine cellars directly, but even in that case they will be offering a lot more of white wines."
The Cielo brand is widely available in Prague, and is definitely a good bargain bet. Again, very drinkable, if unmemorable.
I just finished a bottle of Cielo Cabernet Sauvignon, which I bought for 69 CZK ($4.36). Not bad. The taste was very grape-y, almost like grape-flavored Kool-Aid or something.
I finished the bottle, nonetheless.
The Cielo Cabernet Sauvignon gets a 6 out of 10 on the Wino-Meter.
Crapola de Espana
One bottle I actually couldn't finish was of Sol de Espana from the well-respected vintner United Brands, a Spanish table wine that was for sale at a Vietnamese market I frequent near Hradcanska metro for around 34 CZK ($2.15). It was absolutely undrinkable -- vinegary and just plain awful.
I don't think the bottle was bad. I think the wine is bad. I had a swallow and poured the rest down the drain.
The Sol de Espana came close to breaking the Wino-Meter.
And the quest continues...
As always, please share your recommendations, both good and bad. I promise to do my best to taste them all.