“How to pick a good wine? We all have our ways.”

Issue #12     March, 2020

Since we get together each month down here in the cellar to seek out wines that are both enjoyable and affordable, I thought it might be interesting to explore just how we go about making our choices to buy the wines we do. For many of us this is a process that is certainly personal and sometimes a little unexplainable.

Of course, there’s the old stand-by method; word of mouth. A friend or someone like me, mentions a great wine so as any self-respecting wine lover would, you give it a try. A close cousin of this approach is the ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ method. Basically this means you surreptitiously watch what wine the person next to you takes off the shelf at the LCBO and when he or she leaves the area, you grab yourself a bottle too.

Some wine shoppers employ purely visual techniques. They use the shape of the bottle or look of the label, or the name of the wine to make their decision. Personally, if I see any bad puns in the name of a wine, I smell vinegar.

A friend of mine chooses her wine by feel, using the uncommon method of inspecting the bottom of the bottle in question with her fingertips.

If that bottle has a deep indent, (actually it’s called the ‘Punt’) she deems it worthy of a purchase. If it’s mostly flat with no punt or a very minor one, her quest continues. Hey, it sounds nutty, but it works for her.

I’m sure there are other methods too but when it comes right down to it, it doesn’t really matter how we find our favourites, as long as we find them. So let’s.

Welcome back to Jim’s Affordable Cellar.


Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz/Cabernet 2017
South Australia
750 mL  bottle  VINTAGES#:  186114

Our red this month isn’t new to the shelves. It periodically shows up and is most always worthy of consideration. And you can’t miss the curious name on the label. I have no idea what it means but Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz/Cabernet is a very pleasing blend of two very pleasing grapes.

It has a deep plum colour in the glass with aromas of black raspberries, blueberries and basil. But when you tilt it mouth-bound you discover a silky, smooth flavour-burst thanks to the bold richness of Shiraz and the elegance of Cab Sauvignon.

This bottle has an impressive ‘Punt-factor’ of an inch and one eighth.

My translation,  Jip Jip Rocks, rocks!


Ribotta Pinot Grigio 2018
DOC delle Venezie, Italy
750 mL bottle  |   VINTAGES#:  12725

Now to the Venezie region of Italy for our white this month. Since March brings us the first day of Spring and reason to think of warm afternoons to come, a bright, light and crisp Pinot Grigio is in order. You’ll notice Ribotta Pinot Grigio 2018 on the shelves by it’s refreshing Sea Green floral patterned label.

In the glass you can’t help but behold its crystal clear, pear colour with scents of melon, lemon and peach.

Have a taste and you’re treating yourself to a perfect balance of acidity and smoothness. That’s wine talk for ‘this is really good.’ Of course it is, Ribotta Pinot

has a ‘Punt-Factor’ of over an inch!


Julia Florista Red Blend
750 mL bottle  LCBO#:  532358

Our under to radar wine this month is a bottle you’ll find hiding on the regular listing shelves of Portugal. I was drawn to it by the quirky, storybook label and the charming history behind it. That of Julia Florista, the infamous flower girl and spontaneous Fado singer of Lisbon. No matter how well she sang, for under ten dollars this wine named in her honour, hits all the right notes.

It’s deep garnet in colour with bright, fruity aromas and hints of leather.  It doesn’t scream at your taste buds, but softly sings to them in a smooth and tasty voice.

And as for the bottom of this bottle, it has a ‘Punt’ factor of just under an inch. Not bad at all.

This brings us to the close of our March visit together down here in the cellar at the old oak tasting table. In a month when we meet again, I’m planning to use yet another criterion for my selections. Perhaps a healthier one. Not the depth of the bottom of the bottle or the look of the label, but wine designated as ‘Organic’. So hold on to your Birkenstocks because we may have to break the $20 barrier. But it’s worth a try.

See you in April. Until then, keep your glass of wine close and you’re friends even closer.


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