Wine on a Dime: Bring Home the Wine!


Wine tasting is not a spectator sport – a full participation of all team members is essential for success and fun. This column is in honor of the recent Winter Games in Vancouver, which seemed good timing to toast this event.

With the exception of two semi-ringers from TJ’s, the rest of the picks were from Grocery Outlet. Five countries “competed” – Australia, France, U.S, South Africa and Argentina. The U.S. took the gold for red, silver for white. South Africa’s Shiraz received the gold for reds.

All wines were tasted blind. Each bottle was wrapped in a numbered paper bag, we only knew the type as red or white. After each group of white or red wine tasting, the winery and price were disclosed. All the whites received below Yah scores with the exception of the Charles Shaw Pinot Grigio, which fared the best with everyone giving it a Yah and above. The reds suffered a similar fate except for the Shiraz – highest rated with Charles Shaw Merlot coming in second.

We discovered there’s reverse correlation between cost and taste – at least for wines under $5. The Charles Shaw standard is good and predictable, plus you can’t beat the price at $1.99.

The eclectic food flavors were in harmony — chow mein and teriyaki wings by Joy, a wonderful medley of tastes by Doni’s salad of arugula, pears and candied pecans and a spectacular chocolate custard with reduction of fresh raspberries topped with fresh raspberries by our new tasters Bob and Karen McGrath. Blood oranges, luscious Meyer lemons and magenta quince blooms from Don and Elaine Cohen’s garden provided a festive accent.

NAH = Life is too short to drink bad wine — marinate something in it.
SHRUG = Would probably drink it but not sure why.
YAH = Like it, would probably buy again.
HOORAH = Love it, run out and buy a case.

  Wine Price   Store   Nah   Shrug   Yah   Hoorah
1 Ventus – Savignon Blanc 2007
Patagonia – Argentina
$4.99   G.O.   3   4        
2 Les Arpents – Chenin Blanc 2007
Loire Valley, France 1
$2.99   G.O.   7   1        
3 Charles Shaw – Pinot Grigio 2009
Napa & Sonoma, California
$1.99   TJ   1       6   1
4 Reserve Perrin – Rosé 2006
Côte de Rhône, France
$4.99   G.O.   7   1        
5 Pampa de Baco – Malbec 2008
I.P. Mendoza – Argentina 2
$4.99   G.O.   3   5        
6 12 Apostles – Shiraz 2009
Aussie Vinyards – S. E. Australia
$3.99   G.O.   4   3   1    
7 Rustonberg Roxton – Shiraz 2006
Western Cape, South Africa
$3.99   G.O.           6   2
8 Charles Shaw – Merlot 2008
Napa & Sonoma, California
$1.99   TJ       3   5    


Wine No. 1: “tastes like the white part of grapefruit” and “like a sweet tart”

Wine No. 2: “left on the truck too long … prune juice.”

Don Cohen is a retired commodities trader who has lived in Redding for 10 years. Joy Yoshioka is a retired high-tech exec who has lived in Redding for four years.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar LJ says:

    Yippee…. was glad to see your piece today!! Thanks for the feedback on some wines and Cheers to the winners!!

    Do have a question… I am not sure which wines the "comments" at the bottom of the piece refer to…

    Thanks, Lana

    • Avatar Don Cohen says:


      Footnote ! refers to wine #1 the Sauvignon Blanc.

      Footnote 2 refers to wine #2 the Chenin Blanc.

      Thanks for the interest.


  2. Avatar Susan Daugherty says:

    Oops -the word's out now…I'd better get over to GO and grab a few more bottles of the Rustonberg Roxton – Shiraz 2006 before it's gone!

    I will look forward to reading future columns for any wines I was not already picking up at GO…and I expect you may save me from future bottle dumpings!

    Great addition to anewscafe. Thanks!

  3. Avatar Pat j. says:

    For a good White Zin try Oak Leaf, $1.99 at the "dreaded" W/M

  4. Avatar gLo says:

    One question: Were ALL these tried in one sitting? The results may be skewed depending on who competed early in the event and who went last. Just sayin'…

    • Avatar Don Cohen says:

      Yup, we not only try them, we usually drink the ones we like. This can also affect the judging. especially if we get a few we like in a row. If you look at some of our old reviews you will see we don't take it too seriously, but we have a good time. Even a blind squirel occasionaly finds a nut.

  5. Jennifer Jewell Jennifer Jewell says:

    My favorite part is the judging system – the shrug is just so apropos to so many things in life…:) but I prefer the Yah! I'll give these a try – thanks Joy and Don! Look forward to more…

  6. Avatar jess cohen says:

    Don: Is that a goatee or just bad lighting. Jess.

  7. Avatar shannon shapiro says:

    We love the Pampa De Baco- Malbec 2010. How do we buy and what is the cost. Please include shipping price to Florida ! Thanks so much !