Summer Food 2005: Of Wine Snobs & Shirazes

Our spirits columnist dishes on the right bottle for every Philly BYOB occasion

What can I bring to impress my wine-snob future in-laws for dinner at Pif—for under $20?
Even snobs are impressed when you can score killer wine cheap. Stop into one of the PLCB’s specialty stores and scout the stacks for “Chairman’s Selections.” Premium and luxury wines from around the world can be found, but the deepest discounts come direct from American wineries. A few of my recent favorites, with state store numbers for easy ordering:

.Cabernet Sauvignon Hanna “Bismark Ranch” 2000, Sonoma Valley, California, regularly $62, Chairman’s Selection price $19.99 (11004).
.Pinot Noir Saintsbury “Reserve” 2003, Carneros, California, regularly $50, Chairman’s Selection price $19.99 (13223).
.Zinfandel Renwood “Fiddletown” 2001, Amador County, California, regularly $25, Chairman’s Selection price $12.99 (13817).

I see a lot of Argentine, Spanish and Chilean wines on neighboring tables. Why are they popular, and what sorts of foods are they best with?

Wines from Spain, Chile and Argentina are red-hot for a reason; they deliver outstanding quality for the dollar in every price range. The red wines are better known, and their styles suit both Latin and other Mediterranean cuisines. Here are some newcomers to try.

Bargain Basement:
.Merlot Concha y Toro “Xplorador,” Chile, $7.99 (8445).
.Garnacha Borsao Campo de Borja, Spain, $8.99 (4758).
.Cabernet Sauvignon Trapiche ­“Reserve,” Argentina, $8.99 (7888).
Collector’s Corner:
.Priorat Morlanda “Criança,” Catalonia, Spain, regularly $49.99, Chairman’s Selection price $29.99 (26897).
.Malbec Catena “Alta” 2001, Argentina, $37.99 (28706).
.Cabernet Blend Almaviva 2001, Chile, $49.99 (28873).