I have been taking a lot of heat lately about my love of cheap wine, especially from colleagues in the wine writing business. They’re probably just jealous. They have to wade through oceans of very ordinary $20 wine to find something interesting to write about, while I get to write about the Tamas Estates pinot grigio.

This wine has long been a favorite, despite going in and out of availability, changing names (it was once called Ivan Tamas), and redoing its label at least once. The current vintage (about $10, purchased, Central Market) is more pinot grigio-like than the ones I remember, and I’m pretty sure it was called pinot gris back then. This is less turpentine-ish and has more fruit (soft lemons?) than similarly priced pinot grigio from Italy and California. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2011 Hall of Fame. Drink this chilled on its own or with salads, and it’s even soft enough to handle spicy foods like jambalaya.

One wine note: I’ll be competing in the Le Cordon Bleu Challenge at 7 p.m. Thursday in Dallas. I’ll be on one of three teams, featuring professionals who know a lot more about cooking than I do, as part of a nation-wide event that the Cordon Bleu is hosting to celebrate adopting the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts name (yes, the one in France).

Tickets are $25, and proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House. You can sign up at the previous link. Among those competing will be Dallas chefs Dana Cox, Nikki Bodamer and Jeramy Kunkel, as well as former Cowboy Everson Walls and Dallas fire chief Eddie Burns. Who’d have thought that a cranky ex-newspaperman like me could be in a competition with a Cowboy?

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.