Sorella Wine & Spirits: 11 great bottles under $20

I love asking people the question, "How do you save money on wine?" Many say they buy by the case, or the comedian in the group will say don't buy wine at all. The key is buying wine on sale, as the average savings are $3 to $5 per bottle at most shops. Sorella (the old Liquor Depot) is having a sale that runs through May 22, and you can pick up a few bottles for your next dinner party.

Sorella Wine & Spirits is in the Bridgewater Lofts on the corner of Washington and 10th Avenue South in Minneapolis. It's a well-organized store with plenty of elbow room. They have a tasting bar, and you'll find a great selection of wines from around the world.

The shop really focuses on wine, and Darrin Minehan, head wine buyer, does not select many wines unless his palate says yes. Michael Johnson, "MJ," is one of the nicest people you will meet in a wine shop, and he is great at describing characteristics of the wines at the tasting bar. Few wine shops in the Twin Cities can match the knowledge base in the store, and none matches the upbeat personalities. Also, the free heated parking in the winter is a nice touch.

As a wine expert I love that Sorella doesn't carry the name-brand producers as much as artisan producers. While you will find big-name producers you know, I encourage you to check out my wine reviews below and try something new. I am always amazed at how many good wines are out there.

On Friday (4 to 7 p.m.) and Saturday (2 to 7 p.m.) the store will have between eight and 12 wines to sample in a Riedel stem. Also take advantage of the helpful sales staff's wine recommendations. And be sure to sign up for the email blasts about upcoming special events and tastings.

Sorella Wine & Spirits 1010 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis 612-339-4040

Wineglas Picks

2005 Chateau Moulin Delille St. Estephe, $18.77 A Bordeaux blend with cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. Cherry, gravel, blackberries, and mild oak on this drink-me-now wine. 2005 is a great vintage, and this is an affordable intro to Bordeaux. 91 points

2007 Chateau Beauchene Cotes du Rhone Villages, $11.47 A super, vibrant nose featuring cherry, earth, and floral notes. Concentrated palate and medium finish. 90 points

2008 St. Urbans Hof Ockfener Bockstein Kabinett Riesling, $13.97 One of the best Kabinett wines you will buy under $15. Apricots, peach, floral, and minerals on this fragrant nose. Good balance to the wine. Enjoy with Thai food. 91 points

2007 Fattoria di Basciano Chianti Ruffina, $12.47 This is not the wicker straw bottle of Chianti. It's a super-clean, smooth wine featuring cherry, spice, and dust. No food required. 90 points

2006 Bodegas Ramon Bilboa Crianza Rioja, $14.97 100 percent tempranillo and features dust, cherry, spice, and cedar. This is a great food wine to match with lamb or even steak. 91 points

2008 St. Hallet Gamekeeper's Shiraz Blend, $10.97 A nice, easy-drinking wine with cherry, blackberries, and dust flavors. No heat sensation on this one. Pair with a burger. 88 points

2007 Educated Guess Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $15.77 Nice Napa cab for under $20, which shows cherry, oak, vanilla, and spices. Good structure and not too tannic. 90 points

2007 Jacobs Creek Reserve South Eastern Australia Riesling, $9.97 Really different in style to St. Urbans-Hof, with petrol, lemon, and apricots. Sharp acidity that craves food. 89 points

2008 Crios de Susana Balbo Mendoza Malbec, $12.47 A solid malbec under $15 with blueberries, spice, oak, and vanilla. On the palate and finish a coffee bean element comes into play. 88 points

2008 Tre Monti Albana di Romanga Secco Vigna della Rocca, $11.47 Refreshing Italian white with floral, peaches, slate, and pear. Enjoy with seafood. 90 points

2008 Tre Monti Trebbiano di Romanga Vigna Rio, $11.47 Lemon, petrol, and peach on the nose. The palate is full of life; an interesting wine. 91 points



John Glas Wineglas

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Sorella Wine and Spirits

1010 Washington Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55415


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