Wine of the Week
The Endless Search
Searching for great wines under $10 feels like Indiana Jones searching for the Ark of the Covenant. No, there are no boulders or snakes, but the ratio of good to mediocre wine would make the batting average of most Major League Baseball pitchers look pretty strong. But, I've just found two that fit the bill.
Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage is from South Africa's West Cape. The Pinotage grape is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault that tastes like neither. It has a pungent and sweet aroma that blends nicely with the Cabernet's more traditional flavors. Sebeka's winemakers are aiming their wines at people who normally like wines from California and Australia. It's an easy drinking wine for an aperitif, but it will also go very nicely with grilled pork or lamb chops, especially for just $7.
Pietra Santa Winery is 25 miles straight east of California's Monterey Bay, a dry area with hot days and cool nights ideal for growing lots of ripe grapes. Its main collection of wines runs about $20, but it has succeeded in beating the $10 boundary by 50 cents with Sacred Stone Master's Red Blend (more holy-search metaphors). This red wine is a blend of grapes from all over California. They don't list them, but I would guess it has Zinfandel and Sangiovese with maybe some Ruby Cabernet and a few others. Happily, the wine has good acidity, making it perfect for hamburgers or Italian food. By the way, pay no attention to the groaner of a back label ("Behold our Master's blend – It makes every meal magical!"). It's what's in the bottle that counts.
The Sebeka Cabernet Pinotage is available at the Randalls on Bee Caves Road, and you can get both the Sebeka and Sacred Stone at Spec's on Airport.
Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter
If you want to submit a recipe, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org