When I pay $40 for a bottle of wine I want to be absolutely certain that I’m going to get my money's worth.
Why? Because it’s just as easy to take that same $40 and buy four decent $10-a-bottle wines that will provide me with a good measure of enjoyment over a longer period of time.
But if purchasing a wine in this price range makes you nervous, let me nudge you out of your comfort zone and suggest giving it a try. Pricey wines should — and, fortunately, usually do — offer you a lot more in terms of quality and taste, plus it's fun to do the occasional splurge and give yourself a real treat.
A case in point is the Northstar 2003 Columbia Valley Syrah. I recently shared a bottle with friends and we were all equally impressed.
It's dense and chewy with subtle, ultra-black cherry flavors that melt into a layered finish of coffee, dark chocolate and hints of molasses. Polished, silky tannins complete the package and make this $40 wine worth every penny.
The irony of this story is that Walla Walla-based Northstar Winery was originally on a mission to make the world's best merlot — and merlot alone. But customer demand led them to expand their product line, and they also currently produce cabernet, semillon, and now this spectacular syrah.
Northstar wines are usually available at local Haggen stores, but if you have trouble tracking down the 2003 syrah it can be purchased online at www.northstarmerlot.com.