Tired of spending your hard earned money on those pricey Napa Cabs… next time try a Malbec from Argentina instead!

Don’t get me wrong, I love drinking Napa Cabs as much as the next guy. But nothing boils my blood more than sitting down at a restaurant and seeing the cheapest Cabernet from California on the wine list at a price four times what I would pay in the store. Who needs to spend $60 on a bottle of Kendall Jackson?!? That is when I look for the value selections, and most times I can find them in South America.

Malbec originated in France, and is actually one of the 5 grapes that can be used in the Bordeaux red wines. But these days Argentina has cornered the market on Malbec, and for good reason. They are making a ton of it, and making it well. The beauty is you can spend around $10-15 and get some really big, inky, fruit driven wines. Moreover, the restaurants don’t tend to mark them up as much as the Cali and European wines because there is usually such a large inventory.

Pascual Toso consistently makes solid Malbecs at every level. The vineyards are located in the Mendoza area of Argentina, where it is nearly impossible to find bad Malbec. Paul Hobbs, who is an icon in California, consults on these wines and his expertise is evident in their lush, fruit forward characteristics. The entry level wines run from $9-13 with the Reserva going for $16-22. These are great when paired with grilled beef of any kind, which makes sense as the Argentines are also infamous for their Asado.

Two other stellar producers of value Malbec are Alamos and Luigi Bosca. Luigi Bosca’s Reserva almost always scores in the low 90’s and stays in the $15 range. Alamos offers a Malbec that is under $10 and is a great inexpensive way to sample all that the varietal has to offer. It’s smooth and easy drinkin wine, with the ability to hold up to a hearty meal as well.

Catena Zapata has basically staked its claim as the dominant force in the Malbec world. While even their entry level Catena Malbec is not cheap (around $15-20), each and every wine they make gets high critical acclaim and is just flat out great Malbec. Their Catena Alta is something special, and even though it runs around $40-50, if it came out of Napa or Bordeaux it would cost double that!

Lastly, if you are one of those lucky people that can afford to spend $60-70 on a bottle then do yourself a favor and pick up some of the Cheval des Andes Bordeaux Blend.  Located in Mendoza, it is owned by the same people who produce the legendary St. Emilion Chateau Cheval Blanc (featured in the film Sideways) which can fetch up to $1,000 a bottle.

This wine has everything from big dark fruit, to complexities from the oak aging, yet stays delicate and elegant in the true St. Emilion style… it’s got it all!!  It’s certainly worth picking up for that next special occasion, or if you see it for under $150 on a wine list and decide to throw caution to the wind. After all, life is too short to drink bad wine.

Westchester Burger Guy?!? Well, maybe just for this post

Anyone who lives in the Westchester area is familiar with the Westchester Mall in White Plains. As the Mecca of suburbia shopping, it only makes sense that there are dozens of restaurants that reside in its shadow. While it may be the new kid on the block, The Westchester Burger Company may soon become the fan favorite of the neighborhood.

Located where the iconic Finn McCool’s (and the short lived Hito) once stood, Westchester Burger Co. has a game plan for how to steal the hearts and stomachs of the masses. While it has just opened up and is going through some early “soft opening” growing pains, the burgers are tasty and the selection is plentiful. There are around 20 different burger combinations each with it’s own catchy name; such as the Bada Bing Burger, the Italian Stallion Burger and of course Graziella’s Burger (WBC is owned by the same team as Graziella’s and Blue in White Plains)

Not in the mood for a burger? There are plenty of apps and entrees to choose from as well. They have everything from your classic wings and ribs to hot dogs and steaks. I think I saw a salad on the menu, but who goes to a burger joint to order a salad?!? Just put some lettuce and tomato on your burger… that counts as your veggies for the day!

The décor and ambiance is well suited for a local burger joint in the vicinity of the Westchester Mall. It has a real lively feel going on with couches and televisions lining the walls. An enjoyable combination of an active (yet small) bar scene, friendly staff, 80’s hair band tunes (WWG’s favorite!) and quality beef makes this a great spot to a grab a bite while watching the game or to bring the entire family. The prices are certainly fair with the burgers ranging from about $10-16 and the apps under $10. All in all this is a fun and cool new eatery to check out the next time you’re in the area.

And don’t forget to support your local businesses by drinking the Captain Lawrence Brewery (located in Pleasantville) selection that they have on tap!