A few of you may know this, but I am in the process of applying to law school. Nerve-wracking, stressful, and exciting are all words that come to mind as I reflect on going through the application process. The other thing that comes up is that it also costs money. Between the holidays, applying, and actually trying to save some finances to pay for three more years in school, my wine habit has taken a hit. I am fortunate enough to receive samples, but pricey bottles stay out of my shopping cart. Now, I’m seeking out more affordable wines that are approachable and can be enjoyed with a wide variety of food. When I was offered the opportunity to try out the Domaines Paul Mas wines, I jumped at the chance. It was a test to see if affordable wines can also taste good.
The first bottle I opened was the 2016 Côté Mas Rouge Intense. A fruity wine with a touch of tobacco, this was all cherries and dark red berries on the nose with a nice dose of acid. I tried a rosé from Côté Mas over the summer, and while the pink was decent, this wine had more complexity to it and was easily my favorite of the three I tried. Some wine bloggers I know don’t like to say “oh, this was the best one,” and while I understand this thinking because most of the wines we try have some great qualities to them, I pick favorites. If I try three wines back to back, I’m going to like on the best and I will share that with you. It might not be your favorite in the long run, but it might just help you when you’re picking out your next bottle, and that’s important to me.
For these wines, I wanted to try them the way the typical college student would. For this wine, I paired it with Hot Pockets. Although I am a snob, I have a soft spot for frozen breading filled with pizza stuff. It was admittedly disgusting with the cheeseburger flavor, but that may have had something to do with the fact that the Hot Pocket itself was gross. Seriously, if you are also a Hot Pocket aficionado, stay away from the burger one. However, pop a pepperoni in the microwave for two minutes, and you’ll have an easy pairing that works. On its own or with this pairing, the bottle feels affordable but it is far from cheap. Over the two days I had it open, it certainly softened. So, with an SRP of $10.99, buy a couple and bring them out while watching trashy TV, or studying for an exam, or just when you need something reliable to drink on a night it. This one shouldn’t disappoint, especially since it comes in a larger bottle with more wine inside.
Staying in the Languedoc region, the second bottle I opened was the 2016 Côté Mas Blanc Méditerranée. All citrus and tropical fruits and lemon curd, this oversized bottle was the color of leaves just as they start to turn yellow in September. The somewhat creamy, mellow impact of the wine reminded me of some of the Albariño we tried several months ago on #WineStudio.
Since my goal was to try these with college foods, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pair this with Ramen. I only touch this stuff on the rarest of occasions and doctor it up with some hot sauce, but the fruity quality of this wine paired surprisingly well with my lunch. I wasn’t expecting much and the fullness of the wine was still a touch too heavy to make it a perfect pairing, but it was certainly one I’d be willing to do again. Overall, it’s not the type of white wine that suits my desire for high acid whites, but it is one that I wouldn’t mind having on hand in the summertime to share with friends. At $10.99 a bottle, I might even buy a few to whip out whenever the occasion calls for something fun and fruity.
The third and final wine I tried was the 2016 Arrogant Frog Cabernet-Merlot. Made up of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot, this was an uber smooth wine. On the nose, this reminded me of a mulled cider with some bramble berries. The taste was juicy, and while it did lack some of the complexity that the average Cabernet has, this meant it paired well with a larger variety of foods. I paired the critter wine with a real cheeseburger to much better success than with the Hot Pocket flavor. Topped with mushrooms and fontina cheese, the wine gave it a smokier edge. I tried it with and without caramelized onions, and the pairing sans onions was definitely the winner. Overall, the wine was a bit blah to be honest, but working on this one alongside a pairing helped it out immensely. The SRP is $9.99, so although it might not blow you away with layers of flavor, it will be an affordable option for anyone who wants a critter wine with a bit of dependability.
Throughout my years of blogging, I have tried wines that I would drink every day, some I would never touch again, and a few bottles that weren’t for me that still had some real style behind them. These budget-friendly wines are not blockbusters, but they are great for parties or your average weekday wine. The two blends from Côté Mas are really where it’s at. You can buy all three for less than $40, and if that isn’t a deal, I don’t know what is. As I make this transition from work to going back to school, I’ll be keeping my eye on these options and a few of them will make their way into my regular rotation. Let me know if it makes it into yours too!
These wines were kindly provided to me by the wineries/importers listed above, but all opinions are my own.