Making Wine Sense: Sight with Red Wine

Last week, we kicked off the “Making Wine Sense” series where we explore how wine tasting involves all 5 senses.  We started with using our eye SIGHT and how you can tell what to expect from a sip of white wine based on color alone. And now on to sight with red wine!

SIGHT (Red Wine)

Color (or Hue)

Just as with white wines, we can tell a lot just from the color of red wines. And knowing a little about what you’re going to sip on before you sip on it can enhance your wine tasting experience. (Who doesn’t want an enhanced tasting experience?!)

While white wine goes from pale to yellowy to amber tones, red wine goes from purple to ruby to brick. For technical evaluations, red wine is described using following colors:

  • Purple
  • Reddish Violet
  • Cherry
  • Ruby
  • Garnet
  • Brick Red

Just by looking at the wine once in the glass, we can deduce a few things.

  • Age: In red wines, the color of the wine gets lighter as it ages. They will also get a bit of an orange hue as the mature (or overmature).  What do I mean “for their style”? Well, a Pinot Noir grape is not particularly dark (compared to a Zinfandel grape). But a younger Pinot Noir will be darker than an older Pinot Noir. However, a young Pinot Noir will probably not be as dark as a young Zinfandel. (That’s why the chart below is handy – it tells you what color you can expect a varietal to be.)
  • Body: The color of the wine also helps us deduce the body of the wine. Lighter colored wines are generally lighter bodied (Pinot Noir, Beaujolais) and darker wines are going to be more full-bodied (Cabernet, Syrah, Malbec).
  • Oak and Fruit: Color does not provide quite the indicator of oak or fruit flavors in red wines as it does in white wines.

The key thing is that once you know you like cherry colored reds a lot, then you can explore other varietals that are in that same color range. You may find some consistency with color and delighting your palate!

Making Wine Sense: Color Indications for Red Wine #makingwinesense

Making Wine Sense: Color Indications for Red Wine #makingwinesense


The clarity factor is the same with reds as it is with whites. You want bright color and clearness in your wines. A cloudy, hazy, or oily looking wine indicates there is a fault in it and it may not be good to drink.

Red wines could have some sediment in them. If you do seem some sediment in the bottle, it’s likely you’ll be sampling a full-bodied wine. (Of course, you want to avoid getting the sediment in your glass because no one wants to sip on a wine with bits of stuff in them.) But if you do, then leave that last sip in the glass so you don’t find yourself chewing on it!!


So… what color wine are you sipping on tonight?? Do you feel like its color range aligns with its body??

Why Is Red Wine Red?

This seems like it should be obvious. That red wine is made with red grapes and is therefore, red in color. But, sparkling wines (which are certainly not always red) are often made using the lovely red grape, Pinot Noir. So why is red wine red?

White wine and red wine go through different steps in the winemaking process. One of the key differences is that red winemaking includes a “maceration” step whereas white wine does not. After the red wine grapes are crushed, the must (or grape’s juice) is mixed with the grape skins and stems. This is called the “maceration” process.  It is the grape skins that give red wine its color (and also help form the tannins in the red wine). In contrast, white wine juice is crushed and pressed from the grape and then kept separate from the skins. When red grapes are used to make non-red colored wine, the grape must is kept separate from the skins, and therefore doesn’t absorb all that dark red color.

Wine Know Side Note: When you buy a sparkling wine that has “Blanc de Noir” on the label, that is a sparkling wine most likely made (in part) with Pinot Noir grapes.

Remember that I Love Lucy episode when Lucy is stomping the grapes with the Italian woman? Stomping of the grapes was sorta like the maceration processes of today. (Though they stopped stomping grapes well before this episode and switched to machines.)

Lucy stomping (macerating) grapes.

Lucy stomping (macerating) grapes.

There are a few different methods winemakers can use to macerate grapes. But all in all, it is that step in the winemaking process that is unique to red wines, and ultimately makes red wine red!


Did You Wine Know… What is (and is not) a Red Blend

Recently, a friend and I were chatting about bottles of wine labeled, “Red Blend”.  We Winos know these bottles are a mix of various grapes blended together.  But why is it that some bottles are categorized as “blends” whereas others are not? And what exactly makes up a “red blend”?

Upon looking for a little extra Wine Know on the topic, I concluded that it is easier to explain what a red blend is by explaining what it is not. So, fellow Winos, on today’s “Did You Wine Know…?” post, in order to explain what it is not, we will begin to explore the wonderful world of wine labeling…

Labeling by the Varietal

We are all familiar with enjoying a glass (or bottle) of Cabernet Sauvignon, or Malbec, or Syrah. Most wines from around the world are labeled according to the type of grape (“varietal”) from which they are made.  In order for a bottle to be labeled “Cabernet Sauvignon”, for example, the wine must be made mostly from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. And “mostly” is far more ambiguous than the rules actually state.  The American Viticultural Areas (AVA) defines and establishes wine regions and labeling rules in the U.S.; it states that in order to name a wine by the grape varietal (“Malbec”), that 75% of the wine must be made from that grape. And some states have made the rules even more strict. For example, in Oregon, most wines labeled by the varietal must be made from 90% of that varietal.

There are other ways to define a bottle of wine besides the varietal. A few such options (in the U.S., anyway) include:

  • Labeling by AVA Wine Region: When designating a wine from a specific AVA wine region, such as “Napa Valley”, 85% of the wine in that bottle must be made from grapes grown in that region.
  • Labeling by County: Likewise, when labeling wine by a county, such as “Sonoma County Wine”, 75% of the grapes that made that wine must be from that county.
  • Labeling by State: And similarly, when labeled by state, 75% of the must be made from that state.

Note that these rules are only for areas within the AVA, which includes only the U.S.  The European wine laws are approached much differently (…stand by for future W2WK post!).  Other wine producing areas of the world have their own regional wine laws, but have a similar approach to that of the AVA’s system.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

(…Once Again…) What’s a Red Blend?

So back to the beginning… what makes up a red blend?! Well, based on the above labeling rules, a red blend is basically red wine that is made up of less than 75% of any one varietal. Most bottles of red blends list the different grapes that make up that wine, and often list the percentages of those grapes as well. For example, I recently enjoyed a bottle of Alamos Red Blend, and its label indicates that it consists of: 53% Malbec, 15% Bonarda, 14% Tempranillo, 13% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Franc.

Why Blend?

Why do winemakers mix up so many varietals? Usually, they are doing so to find a certain texture, or flavor, or complexity in the wine. Mixing varietals allows a winemaker to balance harsh or soft flavors of different grapes to create a unique flavor.

Most European wines are a blend. There, they are not labeled according to grape varietal, but by region. So when you drink a Bordeaux, for example, you are drinking a glass of wine made from grapes in the Bordeaux region, but a mix of Bordeaux varietals.

Hopefully that clarifies a little about red blends. I’m considering this an introduction on the topic. Once I started reading about some of this, I discovered there is A LOT to understand about labeling, wine regions, and how it is approached differently around the world. In the meantime, check out this list of 10 red blends for under $10. (Oh, and although it may be tempting to make your own red blend by mixing the last drops of one bottle with another, I don’t recommend it.)

Source for this post’s Wine Know: The Wine Bible

Divine Wine Sunday: Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

In my humble Wino opinion, a birthday should always be celebrated with a good bottle of wine. When I first enjoyed this week’s Divine Wine, it was during a birthday celebration with a bunch of friendly Winos. We ordered the bottle, none of us knowing quite what to expect.  We had the obligatory birthday “cheers’ing”….  and then we each took a sip.  Although it was now five years ago, I remember the moment clearly. I took a sip, and then – with the glass still held up in front of my face, I lifted my eyes from the glass and made eye contact with one of the other winos at the table. We held that eye contact for a moment, knowing we were both thinking the same thing. We were both in love…. with the wine.  Since then, I’ve had this wine a number of times and each time, have found myself savoring each sip (or gulp) from my glass.

Divine Wine of the Week: Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon

Price Range: $15-20 at Costco, Total Wine, and most likely your favorite wine shop.

Wino Assessment: As previously noted, upon the first sip, there was nothing but love for this wine.  It is dry – has that woody/oaky flavor. But not at all chalky.  It also has a bit of that dark fruit flavor (plums, perhaps) that balances the dryness without making it too jammy or sweet.  In a way, this wine goes down like a smooth cup of coffee.  As you enjoy a few sips of the Franciscan Cab, the swirl of flavors are so satisfying that I swear you’ll suddenly start taking smaller sips because you just want it to last longer.

Tasting Notes: Here is what Franciscan Winery says about their Cabernet Sauvignon:

Aromas: Complex and vibrant aromas of red plum, anise, cherry, violets, and tobacco accentuated by notes of black currant, dried herbs, toasted oak, and cocoa.

Flavors: Elegant and supple texture on the palate make the frame for generous flavors of sweet plum and dark cherry, with notes of vanilla and mocha. Silky tannins and well-integrated structure tie together and linger in the finish.

The winery also has a nice write-up of the history of this wine, if you’re interested in reading more.

Franciscan Cab with tasty burger

Franciscan Cab with tasty burger

Divine Wine Bite: So now that you have the wine in hand, what should you eat with it? Cabernets generally have a lot of tannins, which typically make the wine taste a little more bitter (in the same way that dark chocolate might taste bitter), and also makes it taste dry. Because of that, Cabs tend to go well with red meat. The red meat’s protein and fattiness balance the bitter/dryness of the wine.  So try this wine with a nice grilled steak or grilled lamb.  I personally enjoyed it with this delicious burger tonight!

Divine Wine Sunday: Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

Wine is always best when enjoyed with good company… and I had the pleasure of enjoying this week’s Divine Wine with several of my favorite people over a long dinner (and several bottles of happiness).

Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir

Divine Wine of the Week: Cartlidge & Browne 2010 Pinot Noir, Healdsburg, California

Price: $14.99/bottle available at Sportsman’s Fine Wine & Spirits, $12.99 at Total Wine (both based on prices in Phoenix, AZ)

Wino Assessment: Pinot Noir is one of my favorite overall wines (oh wait – most wines fall into this category for me!).  It is great with appetizers, with a meal, by itself, in the afternoon, in the evening. It’s just versatile.  And who doesn’t love good versatility?

The Cartlidge & Browne Pinot is a great “standard” Pinot Noir. It has all the typical flavors that you might find in a Pinot – a little earthy/oakiness while also having some soft fruit (strawberry/cherry) which balances the overall flavor. While enjoying with my friends, we all agreed that it was very smooth, easy to drink wine.

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes: The winemaker describes this wine as follows:

“Cherry, strawberry and rhubarb notes define the aromatics of this wine and are backed by hints of cinnamon and oregano. Bright flavors of cherry, raspberry and ripe tomato are balanced by a layer of earthy mushroom. Smooth and silky!”

Divine Wine Bite: Now that you have the bottle, you’re wondering what the heck to eat with it. (And yes, I firmly believe that all good meals are planned around a good bottle of wine.) Since this particular Pinot Noir has the earthy flavors as well as soft fruit and spice flavors, it can really go with a variety of dishes.  Enjoy it with hearty meats such as lamb or veal. It also pairs beautifully with salmon.  Keep in mind that to pair wine and food together well, look for common or opposite characteristics in both.  Maybe prepare your meats with a mushroom sauce (matching smooth flavors in the food to that of the wine). If you pair this wine with salmon, try it with a rich red wine reduction or a glaze of sorts.

Looking for a specific recipe? Try this Sesame Encrusted Salmon with Pinot Noir Reduction.  This is the dish that I enjoyed with friends and this bottle (or bottles) of wine and we all agreed the combination of the dish with the wine brought out flavors in both!

Give it a try! Let me know what you think!

Divine Wine Sunday: The Velvet Devil Merlot

Did you Winos ever see that movie, Sideways?  It’s about two dudes taking a road trip into wine country as a sort of bachelor party for one of them.  The other is a bit of a Wino (or perhaps a Wine Know).  And throughout the movie he talks about his dislike of Merlot.  Because the movie had a sort of cult following, it actually did make an impact on the wine industry due to less popularity with Merlot purchases.  Oh Hollywood… you ARE powerful after all.

Anyway, I admit that this Wino is just returning to Merlot drinking after seeing that film.  And yes, I am embarrassed to admit that. But I’m here to say publicly that I  have reopened my taste buds to Merlot and, so far, have very much enjoyed them!  So today’s Divine Wine is a personal celebration of Merlot and one that I think you Winos will enjoy as well!

The Velvet Devil Merlot

Divine Wine of the Week: The Velvet Devil 2009, Charles Smith Winery, Walla Walla, Washington

Price Range: $12 from the winery, $9.99 at Fry’s Food

Wino Assessment: Ok, so this will sound a little cheesy.  But I swear upon trying this wine, I truly understood what it meant when someone described a wine as “velvety”.  It is literally a soft smoothness to the wine that quite frankly tastes like you’re drinking liquid velvet.  This wine is obviously smooth, and while it has some fruity flavors (I’d say a hint of strawberry), it also maintains a nice – but not overwhelming – dryness.  I suppose the “devilish” part about this wine is that you just want to guzzle it.

The Wine: 

You might recognize the style of this wine label due to a previous Charles Smith Divine Wine of the Week on W2WK – Kung Fu Girl Riesling.  I have tried a couple of this winery’s other wines as well, and have been more than delighted by all of them! This is what Charles Smith says about The Velvet Devil:

“PURE VELVET! Milk chocolate, wild blackberry, baking spice, rose oil…beautifully perfumed Washington in a glass….Velvet Devil? HELL YEAH!”

I kinda wish all wine descriptions were as exciting as this one.  Obviously, I agree – it IS pure velvet!

The Bite:

Merlot has a lot of tannins which gives the wine  a bit of a bite (among other characteristics that give the wine “structure”).  But because it is rather hearty, Merlot goes well with hearty dishes such as lamb or beef tenderloin.  For my veggie Winos, try some Merlot with your next eggplant parmesan or portabello burger.  You will enjoy!

Varietal: Wining at Lunch… Turkish Style

I know…. The biggest blogging mistake is dormancy. And I have been dormant. But today’s lunch is going to propel me from my hibernation and back into gaining more Wine Know!

So, I don’t often have a glass of wine at lunch… Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because it usually leads to an unplanned nap. (Apparently, I have real issues with dormancy.) But it was a long week… I was getting ready to get on a plane (where I usually nap whether or not I want to)…so why the heck not?!

My lovely co-worker suggested Pasha Mezze for lunch in the Kent neighborhood of Norfolk, VA. This place has “Mediterranean and Anatolian cuisine” made from local ingredients… And much to my delight, it also had regional wine options on its menu! I generally think it makes a meal more interesting (and often better) when pairing wine and food by region. Especially when the wine offering is somewhat unique! Can’t say I often look for Turkish wine at the wine store… Though now that I’ve tried it, I may just have to!!

I enjoyed a glass of the Kavaklidere Yakut red wine… And it did indeed have fruit flavors and ripe tannins with a pleasant and velvety finish (as indicated on the menu).


Here’s to many more wining lunches in the future!

Divine Wine Sunday: GaVin Pinot Noir

Over the past several days, I have been gallivanting about Portland, Oregon with a few friends, including loyal W2WK reader, Ms. Snodgrass.  We excused ourselves from life at our respective homes under the guise of running in a race, but knowing it was an opportunity to hang out in Portland to enjoy the food, wine, and merriment the city has to offer…. not to mention hanging out with some lovely ladies!  So while I have the Northwestern spirit in my bones, I thought I’d blog about a lovely Oregonian vino that I had the opportunity to enjoy while in Portland!

Diving Wine of the Week: 2007 GaVin Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Price Range: $12.99

Wino Assessment…

This was a bold, earthy Pinot Noir. But the earthiness didn’t leave your mouth dry – the wine finished very lightly and with a little bit of a soft raspberry fruitiness.  I definitely could have had more than the one glass I did enjoy. (Don’t be too surprised that I stuck with just one glass.)

The Wine…

Oregon is certainly known for its Pinot Noirs. Nearly all Oregon wineries grow Pinot Noir, which originates in the Burgundy region of France.  In fact, Oregon happens to be the only other region in the world (outside of Burgundy) that specializes in Pinot Noir.  (Interesting, eh!?)  Another interesting Pinot Noir fun fact is that the grape is never blended with other grapes – in Burgundy, Oregon, and other regions, a bottle of Pinot Noir is always made with 100% Pinot Noir grape. It isn’t blended with other grapes because it isn’t just doesn’t blend well.  (That said, it is used with some sparkling wines… but, of course, they are not labeled “Pinot Noir”.)

Anyway, the GaVin Pinot was delightful.  Interestingly, however, I cannot find a website for this winery.  (Hmm… new business idea… find small wineries and build their websites and request payment in liquid form…. it could work!)  I did however, find this write-up on GaVin’s Pinot in a “Leschi Market” newsletter from Seattle:

“Aromas of raspberry and strawberry lead to flavors of red cherries, with hints of baking spices and supple tannins. This is a well crafted wine and considering the complexity and quality it is an incredible value in Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.”

I don’t know how trustworthy the Leschi Market wine news is, but sounds pretty accurate to me after enjoying my glass of GaVin!

One more tidbit… Willamettte Valley is often mispronounced.  I know because I have been corrected in the past.  It is “will-AM-ette”… not “will-am-ETTE” as I feel is one’s natural assumption.  Now you can sound cooler when scoping out Oregonian wines from this fine valley.

The Bite

So what does one eat with an Oregonian Pinot Noir?  Well, I personally think Pinots can be enjoyed with just about anything… but to narrow it down from “anything”, may I suggest grilled salmon?!   You’ve probably heard that silly rule that white wines should be enjoyed with seafood and red wines with meat.  Well, that’s a bunch of baloney.  And apparently, Oregon Pinots were among the first famous ‘stupid rule-breakers’.  And they did so with grilled salmon.  In fact, there’s a whole festival called the International Pinot Noir Celebration which brings Pinot Noir winemakers from around the world to celebrate the delights of Pinot with U.S. Northwestern cuisine.  The event apparently comes to its grand conclusion with a salmon dinner to accompany all the tasty Pinot consumption.

I think I’m adding “Attend International Pinot Noir Celebration” to my list of must-dos in life.  Especially convenient that it is in Oregon, because I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to this very beautiful part of the U.S.!


[Source for all Wine Know in this post is from The Wine Bible.]


Divine Wine Sunday: Niner Cabernet Sauvignon

Last weekend, while enjoying a lovely dinner out on the Scottsdale scene (and just before hitting up my favorite dive karaoke bar), I had the pleasure of tasting this week’s Divine Wine. As previously mentioned here on Wino to Wine Know, I visited several of Paso Robles’s wineries last fall and on the list of wineries to visit was Niner.  Several people had suggested Niner as a good stop but I wasn’t able to fit it in among all the others at which I “sipped” vino.  So last week, when my dinner date suggested we order that Niner Cab off the Wildfish wine menu, I gladly agreed!  And much like the many other Paso Robles red wines I’ve tried, I thoroughly enjoyed it…

Before getting too far along, I would like to take a moment to say HAPPY PISCEAN BIRTHDAY to my blogging guru and friend, Miss Dreamer!!  May we try this Divine Wine together some day soon…

Divine Wine of the Week: Niner Cabernet Sauvignon (2007), Niner Winery, Paso Robles, CA

Price Range: $28 from the Winery, $44 at Wildfish, $30-ish for a Niner Winery bottle (Twisted Spur) at Olive & Ivy Marketplace, (have not seen it available at wine shops….yet)

Wino Assessment…

So some of you astute Winos may be thinking, “Wait, what? You went to a seafood restaurant and ordered a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to go with your fish??”  To  you astute folk, I say, “Yes! Yes, I did.” To the few to none of you who may have no opinion on this, I say, don’t believe all the hype out there that fish can only be paired with white wine.  It isn’t true.  And I don’t know why people believe that red cannot go with fish. But that’ll be a future blog post on Thoroughly Wine Know Thursday some week…

Ok, so back to my assessment of the wine.  From the first sip, I knew I loved this wine… so much so that I wanted to take small sips to ensure it lasted for a while.  (That said, I generally find that big sips allow you to experience the flavor of the vino a bit more.) I’d say it is a medium to full bodied red.  Note that I want to say full-bodied more than medium, but have learned that whenever I think a wine is “full” it seems to be described as a medium-bodied wine by the experts… so I’m learning despite this consistently off instinct on wine verbiage. Now, I was just struggling to find the words that I wanted to use to describe the flavor of this wine, so I just referred back to the Flavors and Aromas list of a previous post, “Let’s Talk About Taste“.  I feel like this wine was woody or earthy to start with perhaps a black cherry type flavor, but had a silky smooth finish.  Essentially… just my kind of wine!  (Fear not… I shall keep expanding my horizons so that I don’t only write up wines like Niner’s Cabs here on this bloggity blog.)

The Grape…

On my last Divine Wine Sunday post, I passed off this section with the note that I had already written about Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on previous posts.  While there are many, many different kinds of grapes out there, I feel  like I’ll run into this “repeat” info on grapes type problem repeatedly. So I’m working on some changes to the content of posts, but for now, will not be repeating info on grapes here on Divine Wine Sunday.  (Stay tuned for blog revisions soon to come!!)

The Wine…

The Niner Winery has a very thorough “fact sheet” on this fine Divine Wine that covers information about the vineyard, the vintage, the winemaking process, and more.  I’ve copied the winery’s tasting notes here:

“This vintage is again classic Cabernet Sauvignon. It has pleasant herbal notes in the nose, along with lavender, dark red and black fruits, some tar and a little smoke. Flavors include cassis and dark cherry, with a hint of herbaceousness. It has a plump mid palate of dried cranberry, nice depth, fine tannins, and a long lasting finish.”

As usual, the winery description of the wine, once I hear it, seems spot on.  “Herbal notes” and “black fruit” and “a little smoke”… I wouldn’t say my description was spot on, but I don’t think it was too far off! (Am I giving myself too much credit??)  Also, when they say, “long lasting finish”, all I can think is, “exactly!  THAT’s what I meant!”  PS: I am going to incorporate “herbasceousness” into my daily vocabulary.

The other fun fact info on the winery’s fact sheet for this wine lists a few suggested food pairings.  While fish isn’t on the list, Cheddar Bacon Burgers are.  And quite frankly, anything that goes with a cheddar bacon burger has got to be a good wine in my book.  (Other suggested food pairings include Italian Roast Beef and Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola Sauce.)

The Region…

Paso Robles is a warmer areas of the Central Coast of California.  It is “sun-baked” and has “oak-studded hills” (The Wine Bible).  Due to the Santa Lucia mountains, the Paso region is blocked from the Pacific’s ocean air influences.  While the nights are cool, the days are hot and dry, which apparently is what grapes like cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, and syrah thrive in.  And it seems that Niner’s Cab is made of grapes that did, indeed, thrive in this climate…

So there it is – the Divine Wine of the Week.  If you try and of Niner’s wines, I’d love to hear about it!

Divine Wine Sunday: Inconceivable Cab

Winos and Wine Knows alike… here it is… the most exciting Divine Wine yet to be presented here on Wino to Wine Know.  (Exciting in my book, anyway.)  A few weeks back, thanks to Action Dave, I learned about The Bottle of Wits – a wine made in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the  glorious movie, The Princess Bride.  And now, thanks to a loyal blog follower and blushing new Wino – we’ll call him “the Karate Kid” – I have had the pleasure of tasting The Bottle of Wits – Inconceivable Cab.  And without a doubt, regardless of what it tasted like, it HAD to be posted for name alone as the Divine Wine of the Week.  (Quick preview: lucky us – it ALSO tasted great!!)

Divine Wine of the Week: The Bottle of Wits, Inconceivable Cab, Cabernet Sauvignon,

The Bottle of Wits, Inconceivable Cab

Price Range: $28 from Alamo Drafthouse (and now available online!)

Note: The Alamo Drafthouse is actually a movie theater.  Their full title is the “Alamo Drafthouse Cinema”, and they celebrate a chosen movie each year via a special bottle/line of wine.  This year, in honor of the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride, the Alamo Drafthouse bottled The Bottle of Wits. And we Princess Bride fans, who are also Winos, will forever be grateful.

Wino Assessment…

Disclaimer: Normally, I do not read about the wines that I’ve selected for Divine Wine Sunday until after I’ve written my own assessment.  Since I have been pretty darn excited about trying The Bottle of Wits (and because I had already blogged about it – though not as a “Divine Wine”), I felt it necessary to disclose that I did read the description of the bottle before writing my “Wino Assessment”.

That said, did I enjoy The Bottle of Wits Inconceivable Cab? YES!  And yes, you’re right.  I was slightly swayed by the idea of The Bottle of Wits… and then when I saw the packaging, I was swayed even more.  I thought, “there’s no way I won’t like this wine!”  I mean the box itself has lots of PB quotes all over it.  It indicates that the wine is “iocane free” … “most likely”.  How could a PB fan not love that?!

But ok – beyond the awesome packaging (both on the bottle and the box), the wine was very enjoyable!  For me, it was an ideal combination of that Cabernet dryness and a smooth fruit flavored finish.  The wine left your tongue a little chalky, but not so much that you needed a glass of water to accompany your glass of wine.

The Grape…

I have posted on Cabernet Sauvignon here on Wino to Wine Know before.  There is certainly more to say about this wine, but for the purpose of this post, I think it will serve it justice to reference the details of the grape from the previous Cab Sauvignon write-up.

The Wine…

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema included a nice description of their Inconceivable Cab.

“Inconceivable Cab” is a 2009 vintage California Cabernet, with a deep ruby hue. The nose is all black currant with subtle hints of oak. Medium bodied, full of plum and black cherry fruit, balanced by firm acidity and tannins. On the finish, lingering notes of cedar and vanilla dominate. It is complex & intriguing, with no trace of iocane powder.”

For sure, I am happy to know that there was no iocane powder in this wine, for I have not yet built up my tolerance like the Dread Pirate Roberts.  That said, the power of suggestion is strong with me, and I totally agree that there were plum and black cherry flavors.  That and the “lingering notes of cedar…” are certainly accurate descriptions now that I’ve heard it after tasting this delightful red.  (Some day, I’ll be able to construct such elegant sentences to accurately describe vino.)

The Region…

California Cabs are recognized and respected around the world and the state plants about as many of these grapes as the Bordeaux region does.  Apparently, those crazy Californians from Stag’s Leap Winery beat out the Wine Know Frenchies back in 1973 in a blind tasting (funny because I just commented on this wine last week in the Wine Talk Leap Day post per CA Wino’s comment!).  In the late 1980s, California’s vines were hit with phylloxera (vine disease) which forced many parts of the region to replant all together.  But by the late 1980s, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were replanted and in nearly twice the numbers they had been before the pesky vine disease. An interesting Cali Cab fun fact is that Cab grapes from Sonoma County have anise and black olive flavors, while Napa Valley Cab grapes tend to have black fruit flavors.


The Bottle of Wits, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

In conclusion, I gotta say that I’m so glad this Inconceivable Cab is not only something I can and have now conceived, but also a wine that I truly enjoyed!! For the delight of the wine AND the fantastic packaging, I highly recommend ordering it if you’re a Princess Bride fan… or maybe you’ll be as lucky as me and have someone like the Karate Kid be kind enough to pick up a few bottles while visiting the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas.