Last year, Robb Walsh visited Phoenicia Specialty Foods's Bargain Bin section to stock up on some obscure Italian wines at low prices. We are always looking for a good deal, so we decided to pay Phoenicia another visit. Last weekend, we found ourselves wandering around the Ikea-like aisles, feeling a bit overwhelmed. But take a deep breath and dive in. It's worth it.
Trying not to get distracted by the warm, homemade pita conveyer belt, we headed to the small wine section. The size was not what surprised us. What surprised us were the unusual wine regions featured in their collection - Armenia, Slovenia, Georgia, etc. We've never visited these places, let alone tried wines from there. But there's a first time for everything. We chose two wines, a red and a white, to start our wine adventure.
The Lebanese white wine, Chateau Ksara Blanc de Blancs, turned out to be one of our favorite white wines. Crisp and refreshing, this dry white was a perfect combo for our Sunday night trashcan dinner - cheese, crackers and boiled shrimp. The wine was smooth and light with a hint of pear and apricot. We drank it like water, finishing the bottle way too quickly. Next time, we will remember to buy two bottles.
Unfortunately, we didn't have the same luck with our Brazilian pick. Brazilian wines had been recommended to us as some of the best, so we decided to try Phoenicia's only Brazilian wine, Miolo Pinot Noir 2008. The first thing we noticed was the light grayish-purple color on the cork and the vinegar smell. Surely, the wine had not gone bad, but the vinegar smell was not promising. After two sips, we decided to pass on the rest. The light, almost watery red tasted like black pepper and tobacco, leaving a harsh aftertaste in our mouths. Maybe we have to go to Brazil to get good wine. You don't have to tell us twice.
We'd take a special trip to Phoenicia just for the wine. But if you're there stocking up on hard-to-find international foods, grab a bottle or two of obscure wine for your collection.