Drinking Wine on a Student Budget

By Jenn LaVardera

After a long day of class, a date with the DVR and a glass (or two) of a favorite wine is a great way to relax. But added stress over the cost of the bottle is the last thing a student needs. Here are a few tips for finding a quality bottle of wine that won’t break the bank account!

Shop at a specialty store

Employees at wine shops (as opposed to corner liquor markets) tend to be familiar with the bottles in the store and may be able to suggest affordable bottles that do not sacrifice taste. If you are familiar with a specific higher end bottle, the shop keeper will likely be able to offer an affordable alternative. (This usually applies to wine lists in restaurants as well.) Specialty stores are also likely to offer tastes before you commit to a bottle.

Ask other shoppers

Other shoppers may be familiar the different bottles, so don’t hesitate to ask for their suggestions. If you see someone quickly gravitate towards one of the less expensive bottles, chances are he has tried it before (and obviously liked it if he is choosing it again).

Look at the label (but not just the picture)

Even though a bottle may have a bright, “cool” looking label, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good wine. In fact, an intricate label may be covering up the fact that the wine is not that great. Read the back of the label instead; it usually describes the taste of the wine, where it comes from, and what to drink it with.

When all else fails…

Here are a few of my personal suggestions:

(note: the Trader Joe’s shop on Boylston does not carry alcohol)

Contadino Pinot Grigio delle Venezie ($3.99 at Trader Joe’s): With a sweet, refreshing flavor, this wine certainly goes above and beyond its affordable price tag. Great with a light dinner, dessert, or on its own!

La Finca Tempranillo ($3.99 at Trader Joe’s): Flavorful and fruity, this medium-bodied (meaning not too light, not too heavy) wine is very easy to drink and great with meat or tomato-based dishes.

Firefly Ridge Pinot Gris ($5.99-15.99): This sweet California wine is light and fruity, and pairs wonderfully with appetizers, light meals, or dessert.

Annabella Pinot Noir ($12.99): On the more expensive side of this list, Annabella is a full flavored red that is perfect as a house-warming gift or for a special occasion.

Gnarly Head Wines (~$8.99): This California winery produces an old vine zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, authentic red, pinot noir, pinot grigio, and chardonnay; these wines have yet to disappoint!

*Image sources:  wine-bohemia.info, kevinsbbqjoints.com

Jenn is a first year Nutrition Communication student. She developed a love for wine while living in Florence, Italy. When she is not drinking wine she can be found at Dave Matthews Band concerts, in her kitchen cooking, or watching Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

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