It wasn’t until I moved to the Yukon six years ago that I heard the term “money diet”, but I immediately liked the concept.

Sometimes we diet because our life circumstances require it in order to restore or maintain our health. Other times we do it just because we are feeling a little beyond what we are comfortable with.

Whatever the case, it makes the idea of scaling back for awhile a little more palatable.

So, I’ve gone on a money diet. I’m still looking to be able to enjoy the odd bottle of wine with friends and meal and, of course, still have something to write about in these columns.

I keep mentioning to my editors at What’s Up Yukon that the wine columnists at the Wall Street Journal have their wines paid for by the paper, but so far they haven’t taken the subtle hint.

At dinner last night, a new friend said she had noticed my wine column in the paper in the past, but thought that I was writing about wines that were out of her budget.

As I think about it, I believe I have usually bought wines in the $14 to $24 per bottle range, which seems to me to be about mid-range.

There is certainly a wealth of wines in the high $20 and into the $30 and $40 sold at the Yukon Liquor Corp, but I rarely buy such treats.

Even $14 to $24 may seem like a good chunk of change, but when I think of it equating to the price of two to four beers on a night out with friends, it doesn’t seem too bad.

So, as I embark on my “money diet” let me tell you about a couple of wines that I have found.

In my last column about “camping wines” I mentioned the interesting Copper Moon lineup, from Roundpetal Wines.

In addition to the new three-litre boxes of their wines ($31.30 and, as of the end of July, completely sold out at the YLC), Copper Moon offers an extended line of reds and whites, all priced at $9.95 per bottle.

Yellowtail was a pioneer of developing wines designed to be sold at a targeted price point. They work backwards from the price they’d like to hit, build in the profit margin they would like to earn, and set their wine makers to the task of coming up with the best wine they can, sourcing the grapes from wherever they can.

This can yield interesting results, some of which are extraordinarily drinkable for the price.

In the States, there is a wine sold as “2 Buck Chuck” that has been around for six or seven years.

The maker buys up grapes from California vineyards that may have leftovers after making their own wines, blends them together to create a drinkable wine, and sells it for $2.00!

The wine may vary in flavour from year to year, as the winemaker is blending a mix of different grape juices, based on whatever he has been able to source in the way of leftover grapes.

I kind of think of it like shopping at Winners … you never know exactly what you’re going to come home with, but you know it will be an excellent value, and you may be pleasantly surprised by your find.

I’ve now tried four of the Copper Moon wines, and I can recommend them all as “money diet” winners.

A white, the Pinot Grigiot, was fresh and bright, only marred by a slight sweetness in the finish that made it less than ideal from my standpoint. But chilled down and served with seafood or some roast chicken or grayling, it would be pretty tasty.

The Cabernet Sauvignon was pretty robust, and would go well with burgers. It doesn’t have mouth-puckering tannins that I enjoy in a Cab, but some people don’t like that aspect, so this might be a good one to try. Again, I seemed to detect a slightly sweet finish on this, but it wasn’t off-putting.

A fellow wine fan and I tried the Shiraz together, and both of us had the same reaction … she beat me to the punch saying it was a “one note” wine.

What we meant was that from the bouquet, through the taste, and after we swallowed, the taste of the wine seemed to remain exactly the same.

In wines that I enjoy, the bouquet (smell) will suggest certain flavours and scents, the taste will allow you to taste different aspects of the wine, and after you swallow, the “finish” left on your tongue will reveal additional characteristics.

This Shiraz was just a little boring and unrevealing. Absolutely nothing wrong with it, and I’d drink it again with some different foods, to see if my impression changes, but it just seemed a little uninteresting.

My friend and I also tried the Malbec, and agreed that this was the best of the bunch.

Since South American wines are already quite inexpensive, I would not be surprised if Copper Moon is sourcing a significant amount of their Malbec juice from Argentina, the motherland of Malbec.

The result is an interesting, relatively complex, well-balanced Malbec. I’d stack it up against a number of Malbecs priced 20-50 per cent higher.

One other “money diet” discovery that is an extraordinary value, and pretty tasty, is the Italian “Le Contrade”, priced at $10.15 for a litre bottle (a third more wine than a regular wine bottle).

A blend of Sangiovese (the primary grape in Chianti wines), Montepulciano and Merlot grapes, this red applies the same approach of mixing Italian and French grapes that produce the world-renowned “Super Tuscan” wines, but at a bargain basement price.

I served it with homemade pizza, and think it will become my “go to” basic Italian red to serve with pizza and pasta … it’s really food-friendly.

So while higher priced wines are always a treat, a little digging reveals some very drinkable choices priced at right around the $10.00 mark.

I anticipate staying on my money diet for a while longer, so I’ll report back on further finds.

Cheers!