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- $19 for wine tasting for two with take-home wineglasses ($40 value)
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Côtes du Rhône: A River Runs Through It
Drinkable and affordable, côtes du rhône might be the perfect go-to dinner wine. Quaff some knowledge from this Groupon guide.
Some 100,000 acres of vineyards line the gently sloping plains of the Côtes du Rhône, a segment of the Rhône river valley that winds from Vienne in the north to the ancient papal seat of Avignon in the south. CDR, as it’s known, is one of France’s largest appellations d’origine contrôlée (AOCs)—areas with their own specific names for wine that no other region can legally use. (Other examples include Bordeaux and Champagne.) The area produces 250 million bottles of wine every year, almost all of it red, and much of it affordable; a decent bottle can be had for $15. This lower price point makes CDR a popular choice for drinking by volume, particularly at a casual bistro dinner. Because the region produces so much wine, the flavors you’ll find may be widely variable, ranging from light bodied to almost syrupy, ultrafruity to restrained and balanced. The core style, however, is known for being medium bodied and earthy, with occasional herbal notes. Traditional côtes du rhônes pair well with hearty dishes ranging from grilled steak to pizza.
As with all AOC wines, there are strict rules for what can and cannot go into a côtes du rhône. In the north of the region, closer to Lyon, growers raise exclusively syrah grapes. (The same varietal is called “shiraz” in the New World.) But farther south, where the bulk of CDR wines are produced, vintners can mix and blend their choice of 23 grapes, including grenache, mourvèdre, and carignan. Wherever their origin, modern côtes du rhônes tend to pack a punch: a 2011 New York Times survey of the genre found the bottles they sampled ranging from 14% to 15% alcohol, as compared to an average of 11%–12% for wines in general.