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Oct 26
Supermarket Cellars: A Perfect White Table Wine

(Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in our ongoing feature, “Supermarket Cellars,” which aims to uncover those drinkable Turkish wines that won’t kill your budget or – let’s face it – you. In charge of this mission is Aaron Stein – an expert on nuclear non-proliferation issues and PhD student by day, avid wine drinker and enthusiast by night – who has been assigned the thankless task of scouring the low end of Istanbul’s wine department shelves for budget-friendly diamonds in the rough. We plan on featuring his discoveries on a regular basis for as long as he can survive this hazardous assignment.)

Istanbul summers are hot and unbearable. The crowded concrete-filled city radiates heat and few, if any, taxis are air-conditioned. However, as most of Europe begins the descent into winter, Istanbul’s warm weather lingers. Therefore, fans of drinking chilled Turkish whites can continue to indulge well into November.

As I’ve noted before, a favorite pastime of my fellow Istanbulites is to watch life from a chair on the balcony and gossip about anything new or unusual. White wine is the perfect complement to this age-old tradition. However, most “drinkable” Turkish whites continue to be priced out of my comfort zone and make the idea of wasting an expensive bottle of wine on such a trivial activity unthinkable.

However, anyone who visits Migros with any frequency, or makes a weekly pilgrimage to one of Istanbul’s few major wine sellers, will realize that many of the major wine producers have begun to offer wines for less than 10 TL. Initially wary of the low price (8.90 TL), I bought Sevilen’s Majestik Sauvignon Blanc-Sultaniye to cook with. Naturally, I sampled some of the wine after using half the bottle for a white-wine pasta sauce.

Surprisingly, Sevilen’s Sauvignon Blanc-Sultaniye blend was well balanced and filled with nice flavors. The wine has a honey-tinted yellow hue and is laced with the scent and taste of green apple. It is medium-bodied and finishes with a hint of citrus. The grapes are grown and harvested in Turkey’s İzmir-Denizli district.

The wine would pair really well with vegetarian dishes. I served it with veggie tacos and was pleased with the way it held up against the spices in the dish. It would also be nice with a simple pizza, a dolma appetizer, a garlic-heavy cacık, tangy acılı ezme (my personal favorite) or baked fish such as levrek (sea bass) or çipura (sea bream).

Sevilen is a large producer that makes nice affordable wines. While the Majestik Sauvignon Blanc-Sultaniye is not as good as some French or Italian options under €5, its price is the lowest I have seen for a quality wine in Turkey, making it the perfect accompaniment to a night catching up on your DVR or an evening spent editing thesis chapters. More importantly, Turkish wine producers appear to be focusing on producing wines under 30 TL, making it likely that Turkey could be prime for a golden age of affordable wine drinking. Stay tuned.

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4 Responses to “ Supermarket Cellars: A Perfect White Table Wine ”
  1. Hi, not sure which Migros you are buying at, but I went to mine in Atasehir and found that bottle for 15.50TL. Is it possible that prices vary according to location? Anyways, it is a good quality for this price, but I found the wine a bit bland. But hey, for that price – no complaints 🙂

  2. Aaron Stein

    Oct 30, 2012

    Hi koszyczek – Thanks for the comment. I generally buy my wine at five locations in Istanbul. I live near the Suadiye Migros, which has a large selection of Turkish wines. On the weekends, I frequent the Caddebostan Migros, which has an even bigger supply of local wines and a nice compliment of foreign beer. When I travel to the European side, I always make time to visit Sensus, La Cave, or Solera. All have lots of options in the sub-30 tl range.

    I bought the Majestik 2010 from the Suadiye Migros and I am sure I paid 8.90 TL. It is distinctly possible that different Migros’ charge different prices for their wines. It is also possible that you may have bought the 2008 vintage, which lists on the Sevilen website for around 15 TL ( I drank the 2010, which may be less than the 2008. It is also possible that my Migros was trying to dump its wine and was charging less than market prices. Anything is possible and I think it is important to remember the golden rule for us foreigners living in Istanbul – Burasi Turkiye.

    In either case, the wine is a perfectly drinkable option for less than 30 TL. Given the state of the competition at its price point, I think it is a steal at either price.

  3. Yeah… I ran to my garbage disposal room to check but the bottle was already gone 😉 And my Migros does not have it anymore 😉 I am sure there were more bottles… guess more readers in my area.

  4. Mystery solved. 2011.

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