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Protocolo

Cost: Average price $6.99

Where buy now: Everywhere, if you hit a great sale, this baby can get as low as $5!

Grapes: 100% Tempranillo

Region: La Mancha, Spain

Vintage: 2009

So, I was in a conundrum last Friday night. A friend, we’ll call him “Matt” (because that’s his name) was coming over and insisted he pick up some wine en route. Yes! Unexpected wine donation! Predictably, though, I was then asked, “Well, what should I get?”.

Ugh, that all-important question. Where do I even start? “What store are you hitting?” “What’s your price range?” “Are you going for quality, quantity, or both?” “What other wines are we going to follow up with?” I hemmed and hawed. I sighed and stammered. [Awkward!] Decisive wine selection is a crucial skill, as trying to come up with _the_ perfect_wine_ inevitably leads to disappointment.  If only there was a simple, inexpensive, yet gratifying wine, ideal for most any situation.

Well, I’ve found it.

Let me introduce you to one of THE best inexpensive red wines out there: Protocolo Red. An unassuming Spanish table wine, this is a quintessential “Skank” (but only in good ways- not in a “you need me to stick a Q-tip _where_?!?!” kind of way), and often my ace in the hole. [Oooh, poor choice of wording, there.]

I first bought Protocolo Red from Solo Vino years ago. Short on cash, and with 3 other bottles already in tow, I saw this baby for $6 and swiped it up. My expectations were low, but after one sip, I knew I’d found a winner. Was this just the mystique of low expectations at work? I saw it again and again at different stores and bought it, again and again. This wasn’t just a fleeting fancy, nor a coincidence. This is typically one of the bottles I grab when money is tight, or if I just want “one more bottle”.

This wine is very easy to drink, a solid table wine that can be paired with many types of foods. Like so many of my favorite reds, this one sports a dark cherry fruit redolence, a little earth, a bit of oak. With it’s mild-medium finish and pleasant amount of dryness, it isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is, which is key.

What makes this wine so inexpensive? I did some digging (well, I went to my human wine encyclopedia, Jason). Check out what he and his compadres are doing: http://www.thewinecompany.net/The Wine Co He informed me that a major reason we are seeing consistently delicious Spanish wines with an affordable price tag is because they have more vineyard acreage than any other country. Protocolo hails from the dry highlands of Central Spain, known as La Mancha. Surprisingly, this small region produces more wine than the entire country of Australia! However, Spain isn’t number one in wine production, or even number two- those top spots go to France, then Italy. This is because the old vines in Spain produce less fruit, and therefore, lend themselves to higher quality wine. This page explains it well: http://www.wineanorak.com/struggle.htm/Wine Anorak

Are you seeing a pattern here? I am: Win/Win!

“He likes it! Hey Mikey!” By gosh, the kid dug it and that made me grin. (Perhaps I shouldn’t call him a kid, as he’s only slightly younger, and recently referred to himself as a “grown-ass man”.) I’m tickled he is digging on wine right now, and knew Protocolo would serve as a proper gateway vino.



Last Updated ( Monday, May 14, 2012 12:55pm )  

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Fine. I don't have any sommelier badges. But I have drunk a lot of wine. A lot.

And though I’ve swirled my share of Chateau Valandraud Saint-Emilion, the bottles I buy are almost always under fifteen bucks. Because I'm not made of money.

So now I invite you to benefit from my tireless field work in the sodden trenches of great wine.

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