The Wine Idiot Reviews: Cheap Pinot Grigio Challenge Edition!
Years ago, when my friend Natasha Perez and I first started hanging out, our nights were usually supplemented with a bottle of pinot grigio. We'd post up on my balcony and kill a bottle of the only wine either of us would drink. Why pinot grigio? It's not JUST because we're basic bitches. Even the cheapest bottles of pinot grigio are drinkable--the worst that can happen is it tastes like water. (Although Natasha, remember that one time we got a bottle from a 7-Eleven and it was downright abysmal? And we vowed to never buy wine from a 7-Eleven again?)
So for old times' sake, we decided to bring back the grig' (pronounced GREEGE, with a soft second G) the other night when we actually managed to get together. Trader Joe's has quite a few bottom-shelf pinot grigio options. To keep it interesting (and prevent this from getting too scientific), I picked the Contadino Piniot Grigio ($4.99) and the Villa Cerrina Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio blend ($3.99).
I had to open the bottles before Natasha got here, so I tasted them by myself first. Of the Contadino, I wrote: "Smells fruity and light. It has a sweet finish, tart and light--it's basically alcoholic pineapple juice. Crisp and smooth." As for the Villa Cerrina (the chardonnay/pinot grigio blend), I wrote: "Smells more wine-y. Tastes like pear maybe? Not quite as fruity but still light and crisp. Would probably go better with food than the first one?" Obviously I wasn't raving about either of them, but I felt they were both ultimately drinkable.
Then Natasha showed up. I gave her the Contadino first, and she literally yelled at me.
"CARRIE! This is AWFUL!" I think she almost threw it at me.
She really hated it. So I took it away from her and gave her a glass of the Villa Cerrina. "Oh I like this," she said immediately. Then a moment later: "Honestly, the first sip was better than the second. The first sip tastes like apple juice? But the second just tastes like wine."
Several moments (glasses) later, in the middle of a conversation about boys or makeup or something, she interrupts me with, "See, that sip tasted different. I don't get this."
We both agreed that it did that thing we don't like wine to do, which is kick us in the back of our throats, like when you eat a sour candy. I said, "but for five bucks it's not bad, right?"
"Ew no," she declared and made a face.
"Well, I have, like, vodka, would you rather have that?" Before I was finished with the sentence, she was in the kitchen pouring her wine down the drain and searching for the vodka.
There you have it, folks. Get vodka instead of either of these wines.
Contadino Pinot Grigio, 2014 ($4.99)
What the bottle says: "Contadino Pinot Grigio comes from the Venezie. This light, crisp and easy drink wine has hints of apples and pears with underlying tones of something more exotic. This wine is well balanced with a soft finish."
What the Wine Idiot says: OK first of all, HAHAHAHAHAHAH! I love it when the labels are barely translated. Also, "something more exotic" is SUCH a cop-out I kinda love this wine more. Like, even the winemaker was all, "mmmmm I have no clue what this tastes like."
Who's responsible for this? "Bottled by TV 590 IT - ITALY, Imported by Santini Fine Wines - San Lorenzo, CA"
Do I need a corkscrew? Yes.
What do smarter people say about it? User Liliana Cabana on Vivino tasted WAY more than we did: "Sunny yellow w/bright aromas of lemons & salted almonds that tickle the palate w/lime zest & bone dry minerality. Zesty with almost zero cost." However, Angel at Truth In Wine agreed with me and Natasha: "Tasted full bodied, medium strong acidity, sour. Personally I think it was too plain and lack of flavor. citrusy"
Should I bring it to a friend's house? Well, definitely not if you're going to Natasha's house.
Villa Cerrina Chardonnay Pinot Grigio, 2014 ($3.99)
What the bottle says: "This custom blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio grapes from cool vineyards in northeastern Italy is fresh and clean with subtle flavors of apples, peaches and citrus fruits."
What the Wine Idiot says: Yeah, I don't disagree with the above assessment. Just doesn't mean it's good. It's not VILE. It's just not good.
Who's responsible for this? "Bottled by CVZ SPA - Gambellara Italy, Imported by Americal Beverage Group, San Clemente, CA"
Do I need a corkscrew? Yup.
What do smarter people say about it? The College Sommelier was kinder than we were: "Delicious, and not as fruity as the smell would hint at. My only criticism is that it’s a very flat flavor, with no crispness. But for a warm wine that was only $5, I was certainly impressed. Some cheap wines taste like grape juice gone bad; this wine tasted like what wine is supposed to taste like, just without complexity."
Should I bring it to a friend's house? No, bring vodka.