(this is a bit long...sorry)
I feel like I have a reasonably good grasp on wines and flavours - I'm not sommelier or even connoisseur but I like wine and have experience with several and have about 300 bottles in the "cellar" I built out of a closet (fun story - took a regular closet, fully insulated it, put in wood flooring, vapour barrier paint, added a cooling unit and put on heavy solid core wood doors and now I have a small temperature controlled cellar). I'm an ill informed and uneducated collector, if anything. I've done a bit of wine traveling (Chateauneuf du Pape for our honeymoon, Okanagan Valley in BC, Canada - doesn't really count as it's where I'm from, and a trip to Napa last summer) and love wine but I'm not sure I have a very good grasp on selecting the best choices for cooking.
I know the age old "if you won't drink it, don't cook with it" and, naturally, follow that policy. I also don't want to cook regular meals with bottles of wine that cost $20+ (pretty much everything I have upstairs). Keep in mind that wine prices in BC are very high due to unfair taxing policies, but that's a different discussion. For example, a typical Pascual Toso Malbec for $10 mentioned in another thread is probably $15 here. A bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz is $13 here. That puts it into perspective, probably (considering when we pop down to WA, I often see Magnums at Target and Costco for $9). You don't even want to know what the wines taste like that cost under $10 here.
Now, my slight deviation from the norm - my dad makes wine from kits and, quite frankly, they're pretty good if you get a good kit. They aren't going to replace any of the wines that I would prefer to drink regularly but I don't turn my nose up at them (unless he's using one of those $20 kits from the grocery store - those are gross). To put a bit of perspective on that aspect of things - they're at least as good as Yellow Tail (which isn't necessarily saying a lot, depending on your predilictions).
As such, I'm going to get him to make me two kits - one white, one red. We will then bottle these in 375s so that I always have some wine on hand to cook with and so that I don't have to dig into the collection to make a stew or to add some nuance to a pasta sauce. Each kit yields about 30 bottles (750s) and will probably cost me about $50 - $75 + bottles (I have some empties on hand from a previous endeavour in this regard but will need several to make them all in 375s). All of this is fortunate timing as RJ Spagnols, one of the big wine kit companies is having their annual sale at their local warehouse next week so I can save 25% on everything.
My dilemma at the moment is to figure out which white and which red I'd like to make. I'm not worried about the price as a higher price just means higher quality, which is fine. My question is more about varietal selection (all of that jabber above to ask what has already been asked in this thread). The reason why I need to ask this question is because I'm doing it in bulk, obviously.
I know that I can always grab something special when a recipe really is dictated by the wine that I choose, so we'll ignore that stuff for now - I'm talking about the "every day" choices.
This website has two levels of quality that I'd be willing to try:
(the weeks refers to how long the kit brews for - letting them sit for a year+ then greatly improves their drinkability/taste...not surprisingly, it is wine after all)
I'm actually leaning towards two of the six week kits only because of my preference for the varietals as being relatively versatile:
I also like the idea of this one as I just love all things Rhone and those are classic Rhone varietals...but less certain of its versatility for every day usage in cooking.
For the whites, I'm kind of thinking of shying away from a Sauv Blanc because I think the acidity and tartness may make it slightly less versatile...but at the same time, it's far and away my wife's favourite wine and so something that we'd likely be drinking regularly.
Another good Red would be:
I just love Spanish wine for its value and Temp/Grenache is so good.
As you can see, I've got a lot to choose from and am trying to figure out what is best. It's not a HUGE financial commitment but I don't want it to be wasteful or regret my choices later so I'm hoping that maybe some of you chef types with more knowledge of what will be most useful may chime in.
Thanks in advance!