CORRECTED-The vino files: how to get the most out of a glass

Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:27am EST

(Corrects spelling of surname Simonetti-Bryan throughout)

By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK Nov 13 (Reuters) - Bargains for the world's great wines may not be easy to come by but experts believe value can be can be found at any price point and to suit any preference or palate.

Whether it is buying second label wines -- the younger cousins of the grand chateaux -- or vintages from lesser known regions or countries, they say bargains are there for those who know where to look.

"Given the price of top growth Bordeaux, one way to get a reasonable bang for your buck is in the second labels," said Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, the author of "The One Minute Wine Master: Discover 10 Wines You'll Like in 60 Seconds or Less."

Second label wines from the Bordeaux region's major houses usually represent 90 percent of the quality for less than half the price. A 1996 Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauilliac can be found for about $650 a bottle, while the chateau's second label, Carruades de Lafite '96, sells for about $100 a bottle.

For cheaper priced wines experts suggest a fourth-growth Bordeaux, Chateau Prieure-Lichine Margaux 2009, which sells for about $60 a bottle while its sister, Confidences de Prieure-Lichine Margaux 2009 has a price tag of about $28.

Christian Moueix, who makes the most expensive Bordeaux in the world, Chateau Petrus, which sells for about $1,000 a bottle, also produces Christian Moueix Merlot that can be had for under $20 a bottle.

Simonetti-Bryan, one of 300 people worldwide who is holds the qualification of Master of Wine, described second labels as "often wines made from younger vines, but it's the same terroir and the same high-quality producer."

Mike DeSimone, who with Jeff Jensen is a co-author of the just published "Wines of the Southern Hemisphere," suggests when ordering wine at a restaurant to steer away from the most well-known appellations or regions such as Bordeaux or Burgundy.

"Instead, if you're interested in French wines, look for something from the Southwest, Languedoc or the Loire," he said.

"But I think, in many cases, you'll find better values by going to the Southern Hemisphere. Wines from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand or Chile can be very good bargains, and just based on the currency valuations, they're simply less expensive."

Simonetti-Bryan also recommended Argentine wine.

"You rarely see wines from Argentina above $30, but some of their wines are so rich and concentrated, you are getting lots of flavor for reasonable prices," she explained.

Madeline Triffon, chair emeritus of the American Chapter of the Court of Master Sommeliers which was established to improve standards of beverage service in hotels and restaurants, also urged consumers to explore unfamiliar regions and uncommon varietals, wines made from a single grape variety.

She suggested trying a Pinot Grigio, a grape synonymous with Italy, from Slovenia or trying wines from Puglia, Abruzzo or Sicily, Italian regions often overlooked.

"I, myself, will look for wines that way - something that is super off-beat and reasonably priced," she said.

Her go-to region, she added, is the Iberian Peninsula for wines from Spain and Portugal "that truly over deliver at any price point." (Reporting by Leslie Gevirtz; editing by Patricia Reaney and Alden Bentley)

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