$20 Booze Spree 

Local experts pick their favorite drinks for under $20.

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If you just had a single Jackson—a $20 bill— to blow and you were headed for a state liquor store, how would you spend it?

Personally, I’d opt for one of the best $20 bottles of wine I’ve come across in a long time: Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir. It’s a delicious, food-friendly Pinot that’s rich and luscious. But I was curious to see what local restaurateurs, sommeliers and wine managers would do with their $20. What follows may surprise you.

Louis Koppel, sommelier, Spencer’s for Steaks & Chops
“You gotta spot me the tax, but at $19.99 the 2006 Atrea Old Soul Red is the steal—almost equal parts Zinfandel and Syrah, with Malbec and Petite Sirah making the final quarter. This hand-crafted, unfiltered, inky-colored Mendocino gem flexes with dark fruit that delivers gracefully and reiterates its layers of fruit with notes of spice blending in on the lengthy finish.”

Elio Scanu, chef/owner, Zucca Trattoria
“It would be simple ... I love Navarro Correas Private Collection Malbec ($10.99). It’s ruby in color with fruit and flower aromas that make me think of violets, with tastes of strawberry, blackberry and cherry and delicate nuances of vanilla and smoke, with smooth tannins that make it medium-bodied and elegant. I really enjoy it with grilled pork chops with fennel, salt and pepper, grilled blood sausages and steamed yucca with roasted pepper chimichurri. With the remaining money: Uinta Tilted Smile ($6.95) while I grill Argentinean chorizos as an appetizer!”

Frederic Barbier, assistant food & beverage director, Snowbird
“I would most likely go to the liquor store and get a six-pack of Squatters Hop Rising ($8.94). And then, as I would have some money left over, most likely, I would go with Paul Jaboulet Parallèle “45” ($9.99), a Grenache/Syrah blend and easy-to-drink wine, perfect to finish a “bad day” next to the fireplace. It’s fruit forward and finishes with some spicy notes—a typical, well done Cote du Rhone.”

Jim Santangelo, sommelier & wine educator
“Give $20 to the devil in me, this is what you’ll get: I’d make cocktails called ‘Jumper Cables’ we created back east in college: For $20, you could get a fifth of 151 Rum and a six-pack of Jolt Cola. As for the angelic side, I’d order Chinese takeout to go with the following wines: Conundrum White Table Wine ($8.50) and Seghesio Zinfandel Sonoma ($12.99).”

Ian Campbell, general manger, Log Haven
“One bottle of wine doesn’t go so far if you are sharing, so I think I’d opt for a bottle each of Uinta’s Crooked Smile Imperial Pilsner ($6.95) and Labyrinth Black Ale ($11.95). Both are full-flavored, high-alcohol beers that can stand up to lots of different foods.”

Peri Ermidis, wine director, Shallow Shaft
“I’d go with the Kourtaki Agiorgitiko ($16.99/1500ml) from Nemea, Greece. It makes a great food wine.”

Eric Dunlap, partner, Red Rock Brewing Company
“On a $20 wine night, I like a bottle of Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava ($9.99) and Columbia Crest Merlot ($9.49).”

David Perkins, proprietor, High West Distillery
“I’d buy Elijah Craig 12-year old bourbon for $19.99. It’s the oldest whiskey you can buy for the lowest price and is just divine, one of my favorite bourbons.”

Tim Nelson, pastry chef, Fresco
“I’d buy a 30-pack of PBR. It will last all night.”

Now, how about you? How would you spend your $20? 

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