Beringer Pinot Grigio

Price: $6
Maker: Beringer
Variety: Pinot Grigio
Packaging: Bottle, natural cork
Our Rating: 8 out of 10

For a staple of supermarkets and convenience stores, Beringer Pinot Grigio (2004) is a pleasant surprise. It has a melony aroma, and tastes of apple, melon, and citrus. Its flavor is crisp and slightly tart, and its finish lingers on the tongue pleasantly. It’s not as dry as some Pinot Grigios, and will appeal to neophyte wine drinkers more than some more refined examples of that varietal.

You won’t impress your guests with the Beringer label, but this wine makes an exceptionally affordable (we found it on sale for a rock-bottom $4.50) accompaniment for lighter foods, and for those guests who prefer a white wine under any circumstances. Beringer makes a number of Pinot Grigios, including Founders Estate and Stone Cellars; this one, simply dubbed California Pinot Grigio, is the least expensive of the group.

Oliver Riesling 2003

Price: $9
Variety: Riesling
Packaging: Bottle, natural cork
Our Rating: 9 out of 10

This Riesling from Oliver Winery has a mild aroma of apple blossoms, and a golden color that is bright and clear. The wine has a very slightly syrupy texture, which isn’t a bad thing. Tasting it reveals apple and melon flavors, with a hint of honey and spice. Finish is a pleasant balance of sweetness and acidity.

The 2004 version of this wine won was awarded the “2005 Best New World White Wine” at the Jerry D. Mead’s New World International Wine Competition, which features blind tasting of a group of wines not restricted by price range.

If your tastes tend toward a sweeter wine, this is a choice that will still provide interesting flavors and satisfy those who might prefer a dryer choice.