That's what one of our wine gift bags says. It's cute and it sells but who's kidding whom: Wine is personal and what one person likes the next person doesn't. That is, unless it's one of the mass marketed types that is constructed to not offend anyone. You can confidently pour one of those for friends and family over the holidays and no one will complain...unless they notice the wine has no character.
The way I see it the mass marketers have done two things to further their dominance in the industry. Through technology they have been able to clean up ordinary grapes to remove bacteria that used to result in unsavory off-flavors and they have added extraneous flavors and texture to their product. In their efforts to please everyone the mass marketers smooth out all of the wine rough edges and adjust the flavor profile to fit the contemporary palate template. Unfortunately what can sadly result is a flabby unstructured amorphous wine that no longer has any claim to distinction.
Here are some alternatives that are neither too old world nor completely manipulated.
1. Trifula "Truffle Dog" Rosso - This Barbera blend from Piedmont (!) Italy is made for the American market with its forward fruit and rich red fruit flavors. And it's popularly priced!
2. Chateau de Jarnioux Beaujolais - From Albert Bichot this one has the explosive brilliant Beaujolais fruit and polished profile that no one cannot enjoy. This is fun wine!
3. Villa Antinori Toscana Rosso - 100% Sangiovese that seduces with its softness and just enough acidity to keep it interesting. This one not only complements pasta but any other lighter entree also.
4. & 5. Need Chardonnay? Here are a couple that don't go overboard with sweetness or oak. Rutherford Ranch Napa Chardonnay is 1/2 Steel and 1/2 oak aged. It is definitely California wine but a step back from being the fully-blown California Chardonnay style. DMZ from South Africa is my corollary to Rutherford Ranch. While still a new world venue, South Africa leans European.
6. & 7. Need Cabernet? BV Rutherford Napa Cabernet Sauvignon has always been a benchmark in Napa Cabernet. It's a structured masculine example of what the product is supposed to be - steak wine. The counterpart currently would be Ferrari Carano Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon which is not really feminine, just more complex with lighter complementary flavors. Both Cabs offer the muscular grip that good Cabernet needs.
Please join us this Thursday after 5pm when Bob Reynolds presents a tasting of three from Italy and the Niner red blend from Paso Robles. Then on Monday the 23rd Adam Bess returns for a tasting from his fine portfolio.