Bottle Rocket: Sommelier Jason Hisaw on Supermarket Wines
Call me weird, but I usually don’t buy my wines from my local grocery store. If there isn’t some obscure variety from some obscure region, I’ll usually pass. How foolish is that? The truth is that you can find a great bottle of wine at many local supermarkets, and a good wine doesn’t have to be expensive.
A friend recently gave me a bottle of 1993 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico, and it changed my entire opinion on buying “grocery store wines.” She purchased the Ruffino years ago, put in in a cold, dark place and left it alone for a few years, then rediscovered it only recently. Inside its 18 years I discovered complexity, notes of baking cherries, sandalwood, and one of the best finishes I’ve tasted on a wine in some time.
This wine proved to me that a $35 bottle from the local Tom Thumb has the ability to age, gain complexity, and show that there are plenty of wines out there that can do the same. Even though you won’t likely find an old bottle of Ruffino on the shelves of a grocery store, the message is the same: a Sangiovese-based wine from the hills of Italy’s Chianti region is worth seeking out and picking up a few bottles. The most common vintage that I have seen on the shelves right now is the 2006. Buy one. Put it in a cool, dark place like a hall closet for a few year. Forget about it. Then rediscover it 10 or 20 years from now.
Jason Hisaw is certified as an Advanced Sommelier (Court of Master Sommeliers) and writes about wines and spirits for EscapeHatchDallas. He is a member of the wine team at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Dallas.