Tasty Trio : Everyday Sipping with Helix


People are often surprised that I, having worked for Reininger for years and a native Walla Wallan, don’t have a wine cellar. But I don’t, and probably for some of the same reasons you don’t. I can’t be bothered. I’m too busy to put one together. I live in 900 square feet with someone else. I’ve moved 4 times in the past year. I’m way too cheap to buy a wine refrigerator.

Does that mean I run out and buy a bottle of wine every night for dinner, or each time I need a cupful to make a sauce? Heavens, no! I keep a little stash. Call it a cook’s wine stash. It’s very basic: a little of this, a few bottles of that, all tucked into an old wine box from many years ago (I think it might even be a 2002 Reininger Merlot box). I keep one bottle of sparkling and one bottle of white ready to drink in the refrigerator (neither stays longer than a week or two); between that and the 12 in the box, I’m pretty ready for anything.

While there are many wines that are delicious and affordable, I find that our Helix line is my go-to for everyday drinking. You might think that this is because it’s easy for me to grab a bottle on my way home from work, but as I work from my own office downtown, I choose Helix for its consistent quality, not its convenience. My idea is that you only need a few wines – three, in fact – available all the time for any meal you can think of. These babies aren’t the WOW factor wines that I bust out for special occasions or the rare get together, but they certainly satisfy any palate (a tested and proven theory) and are perfect for everyday drinking. As precious as these wines are to Chuck, they don’t come with precious prices.

For a case of wine, here is how I break it up:

2011 Helix Chardonnay (4 bottles) $21

This has, as Chuck says, “wonderful acid and a crisp, beautiful sparkle thanks to the stainless steel fermentation. It features Granny Smith apple sweet-tartness and a mellow draw on the finish with fresh pineapple and subtle orange flower.” I think it’s great to sip on while I’m cooking, perfect for adding a splash to soups, and excellent with a nibble of strong cheese and crackers after work.

2011 Helix Rosé (2 bottles) $20

With a base of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon this beauty has some body and beautiful strawberry and hibiscus notes with a nice dry mouth feel. The 5% Malbec gives this Rosé a STUNNING red color and a little pop of raspberry. I love this with salmon or soups when I’m not feeling like I want something as heavy as a red. I also tend to have about 6 bottles of Rosé on hand in the summer, lowering the amount of red.

2009 Helix Pomatia (6 bottles) $21

The ol’ standby. Chuck is pretty excited about the 2009 and didn’t want to cellar it at all. It’s a tasty little bugger and a great, classic blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, Syrah, and Cab Franc. It’s light on the wallet for everyday but big and balanced on your taste buds to pair with really tasty cuts of meat, hearty salads, stinky cheeses, and even chocolate.

Now, that’s a stash you can use. The beautiful part is you get to have wine on demand, and you only need to replenish it as the stash gets low. If I cleaned out my minimal kitchen a bit, I would also keep a few current vintage SoRho (obviously), 2008 Reininger Malbec, and perhaps a 2004 Anomaly for really special dinners. In the meantime, enjoy!

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