“Wine” and “bargains” are not often used in the same sentence in Pennsylvania, but they are out there. Let’s begin with what is a wine bargain. For some it is a first growth Bordeaux for $60, for others it is a hidden unknown wine for $9.99. We will focus on the latter, while having a great appreciation for those hunting down a first growth Bordeaux for a special occasion.
One of our favorite sayings is, “Take a stranger out to dinner”. Mike Gonze, owner of Dreadnought Wines, tells people to do this, meaning that they should venture out of their comfort zone of the wines they normally drink. This is a great way to have wine on a shoestring. Find a wine from a new area that is just coming to the market and try it even if you haven’t had one before. In addition to saving money, you will learn about a new varietal or region.
Some “Strangers” that are out there now:
1. Simonnet Febrvre Saint Bris: A Sauvignon Blanc from a neat little-known area in the Burgundy region of France (PLCB code #15827) $9.99 plus tax.
2. Redd Up Red and Yinzer Blanc a California Cabernet and Chardonnay with a fun label. Easy to drink fun to give as a gift. Available at Dreadnought Wines for $9.99 including tax.
3. Castello delle Regine Poggio delle Regine Red (90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, 10% Syrah) A red blend from Umbria, NO not Tuscany, but Umbria. Full of flavor – $13.50 including tax.
Another way to get a wine bargain is to buy wine in a box. Many wines come in bottles and the exact same wine comes in a 3 liter box for a fraction of the price. At Dreadnought we carry Sylvester (Paso Robles, CA) Chardonnay and Cabernet in 750 ml and 1500 ml bottles and a 3 liter box. The box comes to $7.25 per bottle!!
Some Wine Event Bargains that are out and about the town are the hefty wine pours at the Elbow Room in Shadyside on Ellsworth Ave. At 8 ½ oz pours these are a value not found in most by-the-glass wine lists in the city. They have great new concept called the “wall of wine” that is worth checking out also. The wine girl there, Katie, can point you in the direction of new finds that are a bargain.
Another value is the “Wine – Knows” wine events held on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month at Palate Partners in the Strip. For $12 you get to know six wines, three whites and three reds, from around the world. Many featured wines are under $15.00.
Toast has mini carafes rather than glasses, which are great for sharing.
Sonoma Grill has ½ priced bottles on Mondays.
LePommier has “bring your own bottle” without a corkage fee on Mondays.
Another way to encourage yourself to find unusual varietals is to join the Bacchus Club! This is the Pittsburgh chapter of an international group called the Century Wine Club. This is for people who have reached the level of having tasted 100 different grape varietals. This group has events to help you reach this mark and events for those who have already gotten there. For more information and an application form call William at 412.391.1709.
“Wine Bargains Galore in Pittsburgh” is courtesy of Deb Mortillaro of Palate Partners and Dreadnaught Wines located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.
Mike Gonze has taught classes for Community College of Allegheny County for over twenty years and created their wine education curriculum. Along with presenting seminars for the local Chapters of the American Wine Society, and the AWS National Conference, Mike frequently presents custom wine seminars for local corporations like Bayer, American Express and First Tier Bank. He is an active member of the Society of Wine Educators and has attended their conferences in Oregon, Seattle and Vancouver. Mike is a frequent visitor to wineries in the US, the Loire Valley and the Southern Rhone regions of France, Italy, and regularly attends tastings sponsored by importers, distributors, the Culinary Institute of America, and boutique wineries. Mike maintains a personal wine cellar with over 1000 bottles specializing in lesser known wines from the US and around the world.
Deb Mortillaro was born in Rochester, New York and graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute of America in 1979. After graduation Deb served as an apprentice in a restaurant in Siena, Italy. After returning to the US, Deb moved to Chicago and worked at Morton’s of Chicago as the Garde Manger and at Stouffer’s Restaurants as the Menu and Facilities Design Assistant. In 1981 Deb moved to Pittsburgh and for 14 years served as the Private Chef to Milton Fine, owner of the Interstate Hotel Corporation, before partnering with Gonze as Co-owner of Palate Partners. Deb currently sits on the Board of Neighbors in the Strip, and is the founder of VinFatales, a philanthropic women’s wine tasting group that supports Dress For Success Pittsburgh, and is active in the Pittsburgh Community.