For the weekend, sir: The cash-strapped wine snob recommends ...

The problem with developing your palate as a wine drinker is that it often means concurrently developing your income. It can be a hard paradigm shift when your taste buds are crying out for cassoulet and a nice Burgundy but your wallet is snidely informing you that it's Easy Mac and Two-Buck Chuck for you tonight, sweetie.

The Wine Lovers Page is for oenophiles who fall somewhere between these extremes. Each year Robin Garr posts a list of wines with the best QPR (wine-geekspeak for quality-price ratio), and this year I've made it my mission to sample the two dozen or so varietals whose price point is $15 or less.

My tasting began where most end, with a dessert wine, since the only wine on the list I could find at Trader Joe's was the Fetzer 2006 California Gewurztraminer. (It should be noted that TJ's sells this wine for $7.99, three bucks below its list price.) Garr describes this Gewurzt as having "peach and pink grapefruit forward, a hint of honeydew melon behind." My palate detected mostly sugar forward, with hints of vanilla and apple behind, which is how most white dessert wines taste to me. I thought it was good but not necessarily worthy of a "best of" list, until a friend who had graciously agreed to share the bottle with me pointed out that it's an $8 wine, and I should adjust my expectations accordingly.

Having done so, I would recommend this wine paired with a sharp cheddar, bittersweet chocolate or any other dessert that would complement but not accentuate its sweetness.

The Fetzer was the only dessert wine to make the QPR list, which features 56 entries ranging from $39.99 to $9.99. the Gewurzt is also one of only nine entries from California; the bulk of the wines listed aren't made in the U.S. With that in mind, I'm heading to BevMo in hopes of crossing the Argentinian Malbec or Italian Sangiovese off my own tasting list.


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