PSA: Lidl Is THE Place to Buy Great Wine On the Cheap
Normally I hit Lidl for the snack aisle. In case you haven't discovered it, the discount European grocery chain is like the IKEA of the grocery world—but more condensed and super duper organized. The main attraction (at least for me, personally): a never-ending wall of cured meats, cheeses and Italian snacks. But after hearing Lidl employed a Master of Wine, Adam Lapierre, to curate its wine selection, I immediately strolled over to the other side of the store to scope out the wine.
(FYI: there are only 409 Master of Wines in the world).
I was shocked to find several of my favorite Italian wines from lesser-known regions...for under $10, along with many other great European finds. Rule of thumb when looking for good wine in grocery stores: look for quality control labels (little stickers usually around the top of the bottle). For Italy, it's DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) or DOCG (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin). This will often help weed out some of the not so great wines.
Here, check out six great wines for $10 and under, that you'll likely come to love this fall.
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The Cured Meats Happy Hour Wine
If you ever see Lambrusco (a fizzy, frothy Italian wine), do yourself a favor and grab several bottles—especially when shopping at LIDL. At $4.99 a bottle, Villa Bonaga Lambrusco Dell'Emilia Frizzante Amabile is the way to go. Hailing from Italy's gastronomic Emilia-Romagna region, Lambrusco is my favorite wine to whip out when serving Italian meats and cheeses during happy hour—or whenever friends pop by. The frothy, frizzante (meaning lightly sparkling) wine is also a perfect fall sipper as it's not too sweet and not too dry with a little effervescence.
Pro tip: hit the cured meat wall and stock up on salty, savory favorites like prosciutto di parma, jamón serrano, copa and the antipasto trio. They make for the most fun impromptu hangouts. And not leave without a tub of marinated artichokes.
Chinese and Thai Food Takeout Wine
Soave is also a fun white wine that I enjoy introducing to friends. It's a dry white wine produced in Italy's Veneto region, near Verona—coined the "city of love," as this is where William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet takes place. Anyway, back to wine. Soave is a light-bodied, fruity (but not too fruity) wine that you can throw back anytime. I've also confirmed Giulio Pasotti Soave Classico, for 5.99 a bottle, is a solid bet for Chinese and Thai food thanks to its slight saltiness. It just works well with spicy, salty foods across the board.
A Solid Pizza Wine
Whether making pizza from scratch or ordering a Domino's thin crust pizza all to yourself (hey, no judgement here), the cheesy goodness is best enjoyed with a glass of red wine. On my last Lidl haul, I discovered a Beaujolais Villages for $5.99 (the one with birds and trees blowing in the wind). Beaujolais, a small area south of Burgundy, in France, is known for its Gamay grapes—one of my favorite grapes, hands down. Sure, it's not the best Beaujoulais in the world, but for the price, it's a wine you'll want to keep handy. Think slightly dry wine, with hints of fresh raspberries and ripened cherries, is a perfect partner to salty foods such as pizza.
A Dry White Wine for Fall
While fall is synonymous for switching over to a more hearty red wine, I still stick to my favorite whites—and Gavi, a protected white wine produced in the Piedmont region of Italy, is one of them. It's crisp like the cool fall air but also a little tangy with hints of pear. And FYI: it's bone dry. Gavi (especially this $7.99 Rosewood Gavi from Lidl) works exceptionally well with chicken, pork and pasta dishes, but to be completely honest, it's become a go-to for fall when I crave an after-work glass of wine.
An Easy Weekday Supper Companion
I often preach the Albarino gospel. It's an underrated Spanish wine that legit pairs well with everything from fish tacos to herbaceous salads, vegetarian food and all things shellfish. It's a consistent good time and I've quickly become addicted to Tabagonia Albarino—not only for its $10 price tag—but for its zesty, fruity bite that's a refreshing alternative to New Zealand Sauvignon. It's also a solid porch pounder and I highly recommend giving it a whirl if you're looking for a new, easy-drinking white wine to stock up on.
Guzzle Down with Hearty Fall Dishes
The Nero d'Avola grape is indiginous to Sicily and a super important grape in those parts—and clearly makes a great red wine, too. Grab a bottle of Caladelverde Nero d'Avola for $6.99 and have fun with it this fall. It's bold and acidic, and will be your best friend when serving hearty soups, stew, chili, rich meats and so forth. It also goes well with a bacon cheeseburger, so there's that! Consider it your new favorite bargain red for fall.