Inside Stories

Winning Wines: Ellen’s Early Favorites

by Ellen Andre

Another article in my ongoing series; Winning Wines under $20.

This month I decided to share some of the red wines I tried early on in my wine drinking “career”.  Back in 2009 I had the good fortune to become a partner in Tutto Bene a gourmet wine and cheese shop in downtown Lowell.  Dick Rourke had invited me to join him in this new venture and together we built a great little gem.  In those days I was drinking the weakest of wines “white zinfandel”.  I get the shivers when I think about drinking that now.

I had no idea about the world of wines at that time.  I realized that the only way to really learn and understand this complex world was to try as many as I could!!!  So I would bring home bottles I had never tried and experiment.  I would listen and learn from Dick, our wine reps., go to tastings and shows, read, attend seminars and more.  We had the tough task of having to sample many new wines every Wednesday morning…it was a tough job but somebody had to do it!

Slowly I began to learn and understand varietals, regional styles, wine making techniques, aging, etc. a lot began to crystalize and I started to be able to share that knowledge with customers.  After some time I could ask the customer a few questions and be able to recommend something new I thought they might enjoy.

In the early days Red Blends were a great way to transition (not only myself but others) from white wines into the world of Reds.

Here are several of my favorites:

Cline Cashmere – this deeply colored wine has notes of dark berries, is full-bodied and very pleasing.  It’s juicy fruit and with a smooth finish.  This wine is great with pastas, pizzas and also nice by itself.

14 Hands Red Blend (used to be called Hot to Trot) now Stampede – delicious fruity wine, juicy with raspberry, blueberry and black currant flavors.  Perfect with wings, pizza or by itself.

Monte Antico – this super tuscan wine is 85% sangiovese, 10% merlot, 5% cabernet sauvignon.  It is fermented in stainless tanks followed by one year in oak barrels.  Wonderful notes of cherry, ripe red fruit, is well-rounded and has a soft finish.  Again, great paired with pastas, pizza, meats and cheeses.

Siena by Ferrari Carano – easy sipping unusual red blend of sangiovese, malbec, petite sirah and cabernet.  Ripe red fruit notes.  Perfect paired with prosciutto, cheeses and pasta dishes.

So if you’ve read this far you’re getting the message.  Find a nice red blend for under $20 and enjoy by itself or with whatever you’re having for a snack or dinner.  Let me know if you find a new favorite!

4 responses to “Winning Wines: Ellen’s Early Favorites”

  1. Cathy says:

    As always Ellen, great tips! Thank you fir sharing

  2. Nancy Petrillo says:

    Ellen knew how to always pick a delicious wines for our tastings!

    • Ellen Andre says:

      Hi Nancy we did enjoy some very good wines during our tastings. We especially had some good ones at the end of the class when we decided to try something “really” good.

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