Maybe it's because wine has always been a part of Italy's culture, or maybe because Italy's wine production did not originate under Capitalism, but Italy has something very basic that America lacks: table wine.
For those who like to drink wine with dinner on a regular basis but who are not capable of dropping $10-$30 a night, there are few solutions gracing the American grocer's wine shelves. Two-buck Chuck gets the job done, but why is it the only palatable wine sold for under $3? Besides Italy's vino sfuso, better known as "gas station wine" because it is stored in large tanks, pumped from hoses that look like gas pumps, and usually fills jugs large enough to be gas tanks (and it runs 1.10 euro a liter), Italy provides the customer with a wide range of inexpensive wines, particularly in Puglia. While they are not fine wines, they are, in fact, just fine.
It was never the intention of Dionysus to only share his wine with the elite. Wine is crushed fruit left in a bucket for a while. Through the ingenious minds of winemakers throughout history it has become something near to art (and certainly used by artists for inspiration: “Drunker than poet on a payday” as they say). But show me a rich artist—
Balance is the key to good wine, and for some, balance is the key to a good life. No one should have to drink mediocre wine all the time, or expensive wine all the time. I want a great wine to be a celebration. I want good wine to complement my dinner. Here are some good wines.
Wines for 4 dollars or less in order of quality:
1) Vecchia Torre – (3.50 euro)
2006 “Salice Salentino” DOC (90% Negroamaro, 10% Malvasia Nera)
Exhibiting all that a Salice Salentino can be, the wine is also uniquely expressive. Nose of dark fruit and smoke. The mouthfeel is soft and leathery, almost suede. It is aggressively bright and equally deep and complex. It does a remarkable job of balancing seemingly contradictory flavors. Dry, it is good with roasted meats.
2) Coppi Winery – 1.99 euro
3) Coppi Winery – 1.99
4) Vecchia Torre – (4.00 euro)
2007 100% Negroamaro 13.5% alcohol
5) Cantina Sociale Coopertiva Di Copertino Societa Cooperativa Agricola – 2.90 euro
6) Muller Thurgau – 1.79 euro (OK, not from Puglia, but very good)
2009 “Perle Fini”
7) Vecchia Torre – (3.50 euro)
2008, IGT 100% Chardonnay
8) Vecchia Torre – (3.00 euro)
2007, “Briose” (Frizzante/Fizzy) IGT (Bombino, Chardonnay, and Trebbiano)
9) Cantina Sociale Coopertiva Di Copertino Societa Cooperativa Agricola – 2.90 euro
2008 “Cigliano” IGT (Chardonnay and Malvasia Bianco)