2008 Biltmore Reserve Napa Chardonnay, California; $20
In addition to the delicious wines produced on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., Biltmore also is producing wines from some of the premier growing regions in California. This wine starts with a nose full of tropical fruit, pear, pineapple and cream. These flow seamlessly into the mouth, delivering a rich, buttery, yellow apple tasting experience. Notes of nuttiness come through on the finish. The tropical fruit and oak balance each other perfectly, with just the right amount of acidity to keep the flavors fresh and lively. It's terrific with creamy dishes or veal.
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Platinum Vodka, United States; $10
This vodka is easy to find in many stores due to its cobalt blue triangle-shaped bottle. It is distilled seven times and made from grain. If you are looking for a great-priced vodka for parties or mixing cocktails, then you cannot beat the price and quality of Platinum. It has a nice nose of pepper hints and spice. The flavors are a little warm, but it still has layers of minerality and a subtle creaminess. When we used it in a Bloody Mary, it gave the drink some backbone and spunk. Overall, it's a great everyday vodka for an exceptional price.