I like free stuff. I love entertaining. So hosting a Stella & Dot jewellery party was a no brainer. You invite your friends, family, neighbours, and mom’s friend’s over and supply some appies and wine, while they shop for trendy jewellery in your house. Then you get a percentage of the sales in free jewels. Perfect.
Except I’m kinda on a budget. So while I was getting free jewellery, I was also dishing out some dough to host this party. Enter cheap alcohol. Here were my conditions:
- Has to be under $10 a bottle
- Has take taste like I did not spend under $10 a bottle
- Can’t be a familiar cheap brand (Fuzion, I’m looking at you)
- Cannot skimp on the food
White wine was already established – Ogio. It’s my always-wine…cheap, non-cheap, just for me, for company, it is always Ogio. But red. Wow a cheap red really sticks out. Plus mom’s friends are a little posh. So I did what anyone would do – Googled it and asked my fellow fake-wine connoisseur at work. Google led me to a great discussion on chowhoud.com, and funny enough, my wino buddy had the same recommendations as the Chowhound discussion. He suggested Misterio (tried it, loved it, stay tuned for a review) and Casal Thaulero. My ears perked up when he said it was Italian, as most good cheapies are from Argentina. I practically ran to the LCBO when he told me it was under $7 a bottle.
Then at my party I only drank champagne. With a raspberry in the bottom of the glass. It made me feel classy.
BUT I did get around to drinking it.
Casal Thaulero Sangiovese
The first LCBO I went to, I couldn’t find it. I didn’t ask for help and I didn’t look very hard so there’s a very good chance it actually was there. The next LCBO I went to, I found it in the Italy section, on the bottom shelf. I crouched down to inspect it. Hmm. Looks neither cheap nor expensive. Perfect. Awesome price confirmed ($6.95). Then I proceeded to fill my mini cart with many bottles.
When I finally cracked it 2 months after my party, I was not the least surprised to learn it was a screw top. No biggie. Lots of good wines have screw tops now, even though I hate them. A bright red watery wine spilled from the bottle into my glass. Not bright red like cherry Koolaid. It was purple with bright red highlights. Enter worry #1. Then I did a quick swirl, and the wine was watery and didn’t leave any luscious residue on the side of the glass. Hello, worry #2. Immediately an aroma drifted from the glass. It was fragrant, but smelled light, like a Merlot. Worry #3. This isn’t looking promising. Already I’m thinking of the lies I’m going to tell my co-worker since this is his everyday table wine.
I let the wine breath for 5-10 minutes, then took my first sip. A sharp and peppery liquid assaulted my taste buds. They were bracing for something mellow. I took a second sniff. This time it smelled peppery and strong. This could have been a result of letting the wine breath, or mind over matter. My second taste was milder than the first, but still sharp. However this time there was a hint of fake-grape aftertaste.
The subsequent drinks were pleasant. They didn’t wow me, but they didn’t disgust me. I quickly concluded this wine is best drunk when you’re busy. If you sit and try to enjoy each sip, you will be disappointed. But if you’re sharing a bottle with a girlfriend while gossiping about Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise entering Splitsville, then you will enjoy the bottle.
I would absolutely buy again. I recommend for just about every situation, except for those times you really just want to savour a good bottle of wine. This will be my house wine. This will be my bring to a big party wine. Not my first choice to bring to a dinner party, BUT if it’s the only wine left in my rack, I’d absolutely bring it rather than make an extra stop at the LCBO.
Oh you want to know what scrumptious appies I put out? Prosciutto and Boursin-Wrapped Pretzel Rods, mom’s nacho dip, brie and pepper jelly, and good ol’ spinach dip.