Texture: If you dig Chardonnay, you’ll dig this. Medium-plus weight, unctuous texture, and a long, precise finish.

Come to the white side of the Danger Zone. Raul Perez might not be a household name, but in the wine industry he’s a top gun and considered a pioneer and a maverick. He’s turned winemaking in Spain upside down. Unconventional and fearless, Perez has changed the sensibilities of winemakers around the world and how they approach their craft. He’s gone so far as to age wine in the ocean hundred of meters below sea level. Crazy, right? His muse for this wine is the grape Godello, and it hits all the targets: stylish, sexy, explosive in the palate. Every sip leaves you wanting the sequel.

What you’ll taste: A lemonade with every citrus you can imagine, peaches, crushed stones, yellow flowers, with a little familiar taste of oak vanilla

Food Pairing: Pan-roasted cod or flounder with fresh herbs and butter

Price: $28.99

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Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz, Cape Mentelle, 2017, Australia

Texture: Full, rich, dark, and decadent.

Every wine drinker knows Cabernet, and probably every wine drinker knows Shiraz, but have you had them together? Cape Mentelle has been making this unlikely blend for a few decades. This blend of the straight man Cabernet and the unpredictability of the Australian Shiraz makes this the Lethal Weapon of blends. It provides taste explosions, unexpected laughs, and some twists and turns along the way on your palate. 

What you’ll taste: Brooding blackberry, black cherry, eucalyptus, black licorice, leather, and smoked meats.

Food Pairing: Your favorite fast-food burger, but be careful, “because they fuck you at the drive-in!”

Price: $18.99

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White Blend, “Curator,” Badenhorst, 2019, South Africa

Texture: Medium-plus weight, fun, juicy, and energetic white blend.

If you haven’t ever tasted wines from South Africa, here is the lowest entry barrier that you will find, hands down. Badenhorst makes some of the best wines in all of South Africa, and this little white gem, for just about $10, blows it up. This blend of aromatic grapes—Chenin Blanc and Viognier—is framed by the more familiar Chardonnay. The combination is like a ballet dancer; it’s elegant, beautiful, and dynamic but anchored by muscular strength. If you’re a fan of quaffable yet slightly complex whites without any fuss, this is a great value.

What you’ll taste: Exotic citrus, white peaches, honeysuckle, ginger, and a touch of sunshine in your glass.

Food Pairing: The perfect picnic wine to enjoy with light cheeses or at home with your favorite sushi.

Price: $10.99

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Champagne Brut, “Cuvée St. Anne”, Chartogne-Taillet, NV, France 

Texture: Rich, bold, creamy, and persistent.

Most people know Veuve-Clicquot and bigger Champagne brands, but there’s a whole other world of smaller Champagne producers called Grower Champagne ( aka Farmer Fizz). What does this mean? It means that the producer grows and produces its own wines. Most Champagne’s that we know and love buy their grapes from a variety of farmers. In this case, these farmers grow their own grapes and create their own wine to bring incredible value to the glass! Tasting Grower Champagnes of this ilk are like the first time you saw a Tarantino film. This producer is your entree into the auteur world of indie Champagnes. It’s frenetic, mind-blowing, and you walk away wondering how they made that?

What you’ll taste: Baked apples, lemon curd, smokey mineral, oyster shell, and Pillsbury biscuits

Food Pairing: Dry-aged burger on brioche with truffle-oil French fries

Price: $48.99

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Syrah, 2019 Tensley, Santa Barbara County 

Texture: Smooth, creamy, silky with a hedonistic finish

Joey Tensley has been making blockbuster wines from Santa Barbara for the past 20 years. He owns some of the top vineyards and sources some of the best fruit in the county, which gives him the ability to craft dynamic wines. Tensley crafts some of the best Syrahs coming out of the United States. This is Tensley’s entry-level wine, and it smokes!. Think of it as the Jack Nicholson of wines: powerful, artistic, crafty, and unapologetically decadent.

What you’ll taste: Spicy blackberries, mulled blueberries, black pepper, candied violets, and bacon fat.

Food pairing: Go to your local butcher and grab the best New York Strip you can find and prepare it Au Poivre with roasted fall vegetables.

Price: $30.00

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Red Blend, Altano, 2017, Douro, Portugal

Texture: Medium-bodied and smooth, with an easy-drinking freshness.

Texture: Portugal, hands down, has some of the greatest wine values on the planet. This red blend from the Douro Valley, where the great grapes of the famous Port wine grow, is an everyday killer. If you’ve never ventured into the Portugal section of your wine store, now you know which gem to look for. As a wine-growing region, Douro is in my worldwide top ten. This red blend is like getting in on a hot IPO—low cost, high return, and the value keeps on giving. 

What you’ll taste: Sliced plums, juicy raspberries, violets, and a touch of crushed stones.

Food pairing: This comforting wine goes great with comfort food like your favorite burger or pizza. 

Price: $9.99

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Rosé, “Patelin de Tablas”, Tablas Creek  2019, Paso Robles

Texture: Medium-plus weight styled rosè that can stand up to rich autumnal foods

Tablas Creek has been a pioneer in Paso Robles for the past three decades. Steeped in the Rhône Valley tradition, the family that owns produces these fabulous wines from California. These vineyards are farmed biodynamically with sheep, alpacas, and donkeys roaming the landscape, creating an amazing holistic environment for the grapes. It’s the free-spirited wine you would drink while sitting on someone’s shoulders at Coachella.

This blend of mostly Grenache (red fruits, spices), with parts of Mourvèdre (black fruits, power), and Counoise (elegance, fun) has spicy aromatics, mandarin orange, nectarine, salty air, citrus blossom, and crushed rock. 

Food pairing: Pan-seared salmon with sautéed farmers market vegetables.

Price: $19.99

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Dry Riesling, “Classique,” Forge, 2018, Finger Lakes, NY 

Texture: Medium-plus weight, unctuous with lively acidity, and freshness.

You read that right: Dry Riesling. Most folks know Riesling as a sweet grape variety, but this Riesling is more Burgundy than Germany. Led by one of the great winemakers from the Rhône, this partnership of three visionary winemakers from the Finger Lakes has changed Rieslings how the Jimi Hendrix Experience changed rock n’ roll. Meet the new school Riesling, where the sugar has been fermented into booze, creating a dry style. 

What you’ll taste: This rich and round Riesling has flavors of exotic citrus, mandarin orange, apricot, chamomile, and touches of anise.

Food pairing: Bratwurst with beer-braised onions.

Price: $18.00

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Cap Classique, “Brut Methode”, Graham Beck, NV, South Africa

Texture: Medium-plus body, creamy with lively effervescence.

It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. Every day is a good day for sparkling wines. Graham Beck is the gold standard for South African sparkling wines, and this one drinks like champagne at half the price. This was the wine served at Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inauguration and Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential victory party. It’s tough to find a higher pedigree than that! Get fizzy with it!

What you’ll taste: Classic champagne flavors of baked apple, lemon curd, brioche with an energetic and persistent finish.

Food pairing: Popeye’s Fried Chicken

Price: $19.99

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Parvata (Red Blend), Force Majeure, 2017, Red Mountain, Washington

Texture: Rich, full-bodied decadent red wine with muscular tannin and a long finish.

This is a Rhône inspired red blend consisting of 43% Mourvèdre, 25% Grenache, 23% Syrah, 4% Cinsault, and 5% Counoise. Force Majeure is crafting incredible wines from top vineyards in Washington state being made by the former winemaker Todd Alexander of Bryant Family in Napa Valley.

There are only 450 cases of this collectible wine produced each year. Polished, dark, sophisticated, decadent, and bound to be a timeless classic – it’s the Metallica Black Album of red wines.

What youll taste: Silky, sexy, dense with flavors of spiced blackberry, blueberry, licorice, cocoa, and notes of exotic Asian spices.

Food Pairing: Go to your local butcher and picked the best-marbled cut of meat you can find. Pan sear it on cast iron with fresh herbs and don’t be afraid of the butter. 

Price: $70

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