Life is filled with moments shared over a glass of wine, whether fueling a gossip session with friends, or destressing after a long day of school. But what are the best options for the average broke college student who can’t afford a $50 bottle of wine? Each week, columnist Susana Alcantar will discuss different wine options for under $15, where to get them in Westwood and which are worth your money.
I have all my midterms this week – I’ve been stressed and sleep deprived, which opened up the perfect opportunity to treat myself to a glass of the world’s most popular white wine.
Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, France, before being cultivated around the world. The chardonnay grape is easy to grow as it responds well to both cool and warm climates – chardonnay grown in warmer climates leads to more tropical flavors such as orange and passion fruit, while varieties grown in cooler temperatures generate apple and oak flavors. The versatility of the wine makes it a great option to have all year round.
I first purchased a [yellow tail] chardonnay for $5.99 because of the charming artwork on the bottle. The orange and yellow kangaroo on the label of the Australian brand stood out as I was shopping at Rite Aid. The color of the wine – a medium-toned yellow with a metallic gold hue – was just as appealing as the packaging.
After uncorking the bottle, I smelled flavors of peaches, melons and vanilla, which matched the description on the bottle. I had hoped to relish the fruity and sweet flavors, but I was disappointed. I couldn’t pick up any of the juicy scents I had whiffed, and it wasn’t really refreshing either. Instead of going down smoothly, I felt the bland taste linger in my throat.
For my second option I purchased another Australian brand, Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay, at Ralphs for $5.99. The description promised me “sunshine in a bottle,” which I found to be accurate. The vibrant yellow instantly reminded me of summery days.
The variety had more of a tropical aroma compared to the [yellow tail], evidenced in its hints of passion fruit. Once I drank the wine, I felt conflicted as to whether or not I liked it. The drink went down great at first – refreshing and fruity – but then suddenly a bitter aftertaste set in, ruining an otherwise perfect glass of chardonnay.
As I poured myself another glass I realized it was 3 a.m. and instead of studying I had been listening to The Weeknd’s latest album for the thousandth time. I hoped my final glass of wine, the Cupcake Vineyards’ chardonnay – purchased at Ralphs for $8.56 – would make up for its disappointing predecessors and be worth the time I could’ve spent studying.
Unlike the other two options, I didn’t think much of the Cupcake Vineyards’ color, a rather unexciting yellow. In terms of smell, I detected a new combination of vanilla, apple and oak flavors – a blend I favored the most out of the three wines.
The drink was exhilarating – I felt revived the moment I tasted it. Though the flavors I had smelled were only slightly present, the chardonnay was still delicious. It was a heavy wine, but in a pleasant way because the taste of alcohol never became too overwhelming.
I wouldn’t say Cupcake Vineyards’ chardonnay is now one of my go-to wines, but it was by far the best out of the three I tried, during what was meant to be a midterm review. Though [yellow tail] and Lindeman’s Bin 65 had the potential to be great wines, they ultimately fell flat. They failed to offer the impressive and refreshing flavor of Cupcake Vineyards’, which became my desk-side companion as I continued to procrastinate.