The Red Wine Party Challenge, Part 1

1 May

Here’s a post in two parts that reviews EIGHT inexpensive red wine reviews from my visit to a store while trying to find ONE good value red wine for a large party. Enjoy!

Part 1:

Everyone has events in their life where you can’t serve your dream wines, let alone wine you really love because the number of guests are too high. (OK, if you can afford to serve first growths at your party, then please INVITE ME to your event! I’m a fun guest, look and act respectably and am a wonderful conversationalist!) Yet I wouldn’t leave the wine choice to someone else. No matter what the cost, it needs to be a good wine that will pair well to be enjoyed and appreciated!  So what is the best approach to choosing wine for over one hundred people?Answer: find something affordable that people will love. You got it, a tasting!

My family was planning an event, and about a month ago I found two white wines I really liked and picked up cases for each. (I’ll tell you what they were in Part 2!) After struggling with which red wine to serve for weeks, I finally decided to go to a larger wine store in my area (one I don’t frequent often) and peruse the racks. In 30 minutes I had 8 possible choices, using the following criteria:

1) Ideally, it would be a French red wine

2) It must pair with: pasta with a variety of sauce options, poached salmon, roasted vegetables, & sushi.

3) With bar service, I prefer alternative enclosure, or to be available in 1.5L bottle to speed service. Ideally: screwtop!

4) Looking for lower price range (under $15/bottle, ideally under $12. While it was still a party, we had a budget to try and meet.)


The eight challengers, with their initial tasting notes were:

La Vielle Ferme (Rhone, France) $7. Garnet center with ruby body and edging. Subtle nose, with muted fruit on the initial taste, featuring a classical balance of fruit/acidity/tannin. Gentle finish- a straightforward & solid vin du table. (Screwtop)

La Vielle Ferme

Rosemount Estate Cab/Merlot Blend “Soft & Smooth” (Australia) $7. (Screwtop) Bright violet in color, nose of young blackberry, cherry and raspberry. New fresh fruit, good acidity. Slate overtones on the medium finish. 


Rothschild Mouton Cadet 2012 Bordeaux Blend (Gironde, France) $9. Deep purple with violet edging, nose of cassis and forest floor. Green vegetal opening, subtle fruit. Classic vin du table. Tastes heavy on the merlot. (Traditional cork, but available in 1.5L)

Mouton Cadet

Duboef Beaujolais-Villages Gamay (Romaneche-Thorins, France) $9. Bright ruby color with cherry nose. In the mouth, sour cherry with tart overtones, notes of limestone hidden under the astringent finish. (Traditional cork, but available in 1.5L)


PepperwoodGrove Pinot Noir (Valle Central, Chile) $9. Opaque ruby with violet edging. Features a nose of plum, hint of raspberry bush, cherry blossom and almonds. In the mouth, sweet plum and sour cherry red fruits pair follow with a little pepper, meeting some gentle acidity and subtle tannins. A very easy-going, agreeable wine. (ZORK enclosure!)


Famille Perrin Cotes du Rhone Reserve 2011, (Rhone, France) $10. Deep violet in color, the nose shows cassis and hints of leather, potting soil, and eucalyptus. In the mouth, black fruit and cassis pair with bold tannins and acidity, providing a lingering finish with lasting overtones: slate, limestone, forest floor and old wood. (Screwtop)


Chateau La Freynelle 2010, Merlot/Cab Blend (Bordeaux, France) $12. Deep violet with clear edging. Nose shows ripe red fruit, a hint of menthol and cedar shavings. In the mouth, the red fruit bristles the front palate while tannins tighten the mouth and acidity closes the experience before the medium to long finish with lasting notes of ripe plum, new oak, clay and sand. A satisying blend that could pair easily with so many dishes. (Screwtop)


And from Burgundy, the highest priced wine I considered:

Drouhin LaForet Pinot Noir (Beaune, France) $15. Faint cherry, wildflower, and rose blossom. Bright red fruit, slightly muted with powerful acidity and medium tannins. Some spice, pepper, and gravel on the short finish. (Screwtop).


In Part 2 I’ll explain how I sorted through the wines to decide which would be served at the affair. I hope you enjoy it!






8 bottle

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