Food & Drink, Beverly

A guy walks into a liquor store to see how much good wine $100 buys

TOWN:Beverly
WHAT:Shopping with a guy who knows his way around wine
WHY:Because really enjoying wine can mean finding bottles you may not know about

America likes its wine cheap – close to 90% of wine sold at retail is priced well under $10 a bottle. So why spend more? One answer can be found on the bumpersticker, “Life’s too short to drink cheap wine”. 

If you’re ready to up your wine game – or would simply like to bring a great bottle to a friend’s dinner party – it’s fun to explore the fertile ground between cheap and expensive wine. 

I recently joined Freddy Cicerchia on a visit to Lighthouse Wine and Spirits in Beverly. I leaned on his expertise as we navigated the aisles in search of a few bottles that flew a bit under the radar. Freddy has 40 years worth of wine knowledge which he gladly shared with me, and he’s happy to share with you on his Father Daughter Wine website

Freddy chose Lighthouse because he’s known wine specialists Katrina Sullivan and Alex Murray for many years and respects their wine knowledge. In addition to everyday wines, Lighthouse stocks some truly rare – and expensive – bottles. We navigated to the European and New World aisle and Freddy went to work selecting three red and two white wines that he respects.

The bottles included:

Marquéa Rioja Reserve Rioja from Spain. Freddy loves this wine and shares more about the wines of Spain on his website. Wine Enthusiast gives it a 93 rating – well into the ‘great wine’ category. 

A French Loire Valley white – Dyckerhoff Reuilly – which is a close cousin to currently-popular Sancerre. You can learn more about the Loire Valley wines by reading Freddy’s post

Freddy then grabbed a couple of Italian selections – Tiberio Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and Ascheri Fontanelle Langhe Barbera. Freddy has visited both vineyards and is friends with the winemakers so knows their wines well. He told me that the wines were outstanding examples from their respective regions. 

Our fifth bottle was a bit of a surprise – Garzon Albariño Reserva from Uruguay. Those familiar with Albariño, the grape from the Rio Baixas region of Spain, will find that this New World edition is every bit as good. 

All five bottles turned out to be a cut above popularly-priced wines from their regions, proving that spending just a little more can provide pleasant surprises to budget-conscious wine lovers. How much more? At checkout, our average bottle price came in at just under $18 and we walked out with $11 left over from our $100 budget. We were at Lighthouse on “Wino Wednesday” so enjoyed a 20% discount on several bottles at check-out, too. 

There are plenty of good, locally-owned wine stores on the North Shore of Boston, a few of which are listed below. It’s both educational and fun to take advantage of the wine knowledge resident at these stores. Simply ask for help selecting a few bottles – you may be pleasantly surprised when you first fill your glass back home.

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MORE TO EXPLORE

Vin Fromage
152 Main St, Wenham | 978-468-1315
A new and classy addition to the North Shore
Website

Ipswich Bottle Shop
188 High St, Ipswich, MA | 978-356-2400
A extensive wine selection with many great values

Marcorelle’s Fine Wine
30 Central St, Ipswich | 978-356-5400
Conveniently located on Rt 1A, with a good selection
Website

Liquor Locker
287 Main St, Gloucester | 978-283-0630
Ask their knowledgable staff for recommendations