I chose this wine as Wine of the Week since I've been travelling in the USA and in a rare supermarket opportunity, I spotted this wine, which I knew I'd seen in Marks and Spencer. Sadly, I've not had feedback from readers this week. Whether this is because certain branches of M&S have sold out, or because at £9.99 it's a little pricier than the wines we normally use for Wine of the Week, I don't know. Perhaps you can resist cupcakes more than I can? Or maybe you're a little shy of sharing your views? If you did manage to try this, please feel free to put your comments here on the blog.
So what is special about this wine? Firstly, it's an off dry red, which is pretty uncommon with most reds being decidedly dry. How does it come to have some residual sweetness?
The technical blah: when wine ferments, yeast turns the sugar in grapes into alcohol. When the alcohol level reaches 15% abv the yeasts that convert the grape sugars into alcohol are killed off. Most of the wines we drink achieve complete alcoholic fermentation at between 13-14.5% abv, making them completely dry as all the sugar is used up before the yeasts get overwhelmed.
Our Red Velvet is 15% and those Zinfandel grapes have obviously benefitted from the awesome sugar producing powers of the California sunshine, so there was some sugar left over when the wine reached it's full alcoholic potential. If you're looking for something different and want to drink your red wine with something sweetish, eg red cabbage, or fruit based sauces on venison, for example, then this one will help avoid that slightly metallic clash which can come from super-dry tannic wines meeting sugar in the mouth. It's a bold suggestion, but you might find it's even okay with a small piece of dark chocolate.
What did I think of it?
Oddly, it's not as opaque as I'd expect from this kind of wine and medium bodied rather than thick velvety and full as we'd expect from it's name and variety. It is full of red fruits, raspberry and almost like a coulis, though obviously not quite as sweet. It's easy drinking, and since it's made from regular Zinfandel vines rather than my favoured Old Vine varieties, it's a simple and pleasant wine, rather than rich and complex, despite coming from one of California's most treasured spots for Zinfandel, Lodi. After drinking a Sonoma Bordeaux-style blend, my friend tasted it, but found it too sweet and too different to make a fair judgement. I'm guessing that as it's selling out, it's found it's niche already among ladies graduating from White Zinfandel to red wine. But that's nothing to be embarrassed by. Enjoy it as I did on a spring evening, outdoors if we ever get some sunshine, or simply tuck into it instead of dessert.
Next week, we will feature our firs white wine for Wine of the Week. I've chosen Sainsbury's "Taste the Difference" Albariño. At £7.99 it's friendlier on the wallet and at 12.5% abv it's also friendlier on the liver. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.