For the weekend, sir: The cash-strapped wine snob recommends ...


You gotta love the wine list at P.F. Chang's China Bistro, not necessarily for its depth and breadth but for the way it's mapped out. The wines aren't just broken down into reds and whites; they're target-marketed toward individual palates. After being disappointed by many a chardonnay, it's heavenly to have it in writing that the varietal I'm about to enjoy will be creamy and not fruity or oaky, and to have that actually be the case when the glass is set before me.

The wine in question comes from Columbia Crest in eastern Washington. The glass of 2004 Two Vines chardonnay I sipped at P.F. Chang's was the perfect complement to our meal of lightly sauced, slightly spicy seafood dishes. Served barely chilled, the wine had time to open up into full, buttery goodness, although its light creaminess was balanced by hints of apple behind.

At $6.50 a glass, the Two Vines is one of the more affordable offerings on P.F. Chang's list. A mere six bucks will get you a whole bottle at Trader Joe's, although pouring your own requires a little patience if you want the same fullness of flavor. If you refrigerate it, let it sit for awhile before you pour, since over-chill kills a lot of the creaminess. This is especially true if you don't finish the whole bottle at once; as much potential as Two Vines has, this chardonnay needs to be gently cajoled into showing its stuff if you pull its cork more than once. Still, it's nice to know that my La Crema cravings can be satisfied by a similarly rich wine at less than half the price.