The Pregame: Bargain Bottles – A wine expert’s picks

To save money before a big night out, drink in.

Wine shopping can be intimidating, staring down hundreds of bottles, all with different countries of origin, vintages and grape varieties.

But how can you go wrong when you find a man who has sampled nearly all of them?

Troy Thompson, a wine specialist and buyer at the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods Market, has traveled the world tasting wines from the small family-owned vineyards that comprise most of the store’s stock. Thompson picks orders based on customer preferences and also determines pricing.

Here are Thompson’s bargain bottles, all under $12.

Terra Noble Sauvignon Blanc – Central Valley, Chile ’12

$8.99
“This is a really good wine for the price,” Thompson said, praising the wine’s fruity notes and fresh taste.

Punto Final Malbec – Mendoza, Argentina ’11

$10.99
The best grape variety is the Malbec, Thompson said. He called Punto Final’s versatile and complex, giving off balanced fruity flavors, a touch of smokiness, the subtle taste of blackberries and a spicy finish.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé – South Africa ’11

$10.99
While highlighting notes of raspberry and strawberry, this wine is clean on the palate. It matches well with seafood and salads.

Temptation Zinfandel – Sonoma County, California ’09

$11.99
This “Zin” is initially spicy with a full-bodied and well-balanced flavor, Thompson said. At 14 percent alcohol, you will definitely taste the booze, but it is not overwhelming.

Evodia Calatayud – Zaragoza, Spain ’10

$11.99
Thompson’s favorite Spanish wine, Evodia, is from Zaragoza, Spain. The acidic young wine is well-suited for cold sangria, and summertime fruits will only make its spiciness better. Try out our sangria recipe using Evodia red wine.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé – South Africa ’11

$10.99
While highlighting notes of raspberry and strawberry, this wine is clean on the palate. It matches well with seafood and salads.

Temptation Zinfandel – Sonoma County, California ’09

$11.99
This “Zin” initially spicy with a full-bodied and well-balanced flavor, Thompson said. At 14 percent alcohol, you will definitely taste the booze, but it is not overwhelming.

Evodia Calatayud – Zaragoza, Spain ’10

$11.99
Thompson’s favorite Spanish wine, Evodia, is from Zaragoza, Spain. The acidic young wine is well-suited for cold sangria, and summertime fruits will only make its spiciness better. Try out our sangria recipe using Evodia red wine.

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