Source: Flickr User jetalone
Source: Flickr User jetalone
When I first received this bottle of Bordeaux in the mail, its Bad Boy name and whimsical label, which features a black sheep and an arrow labeled "garage," meant little to me. But after doing some research, I discovered the whole thing makes quite a bit of sense.
The inky red wine, which is 95 percent Merlot and 5 percent Cabernet Franc, hails from the famous French region of Bordeaux, which is known for its style of highly tannic, collectible wines. But this bottle is different: It's the venture of Jean-Luc Thunevin, a leader in what's known as the garage wine movement, an effort that's focused on developing bolder, fruitier Bordeaux wines that can be enjoyed right away.
Wine critic Robert Parker deemed Bordeaux's black sheep, Thunevin, a "bad boy," which explains how the wine's name came to be. It may be a silly name, but the wine is satiny, with earthy plum notes, and the subtlest hint of smoke. And, at $17.50, it's priced rather affordably. Are you familiar with this wine and Bordeaux's garage wine movement?
Red wine headache, or RWH, has long been a subject of contention. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't caused by sulfites (both sweet white wines and dried fruits contain more sulfites than red wine), but rather compounds found in grape skins. Still, no single chemical has conclusively proven to be the culprit.
Some believe the cause is a group of chemicals, which include tyramine, histamine, and others. Red wine contains higher levels of these, because it's produced using the grape's skin and juice. Other scientists theorize that tannins, another byproduct of grape skins, could be at fault. Still others point to lipid compounds. These potential culprits vary among red wines. If you aren't ready to give up red wine just yet, experts suggest trying a small glass of different brands and varietals — like less-tannic Burgundies, Riojas, and Pinot Noir — then noting whether they cause a headache, which would likely appear within 15 minutes.
In general, during the warmer months, I prefer white wines, but ever since I attended a wine and chocolate pairing earlier this Summer, I've been prone to winding down with a chunk of chocolate and a glass of big, complex red wine.
My recent favorite? The ridiculously low-priced 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from Lander-Jenkins ($14). I've gotten into the habit of pulling out the largest stemware I have, pouring myself a few ounces of this dark Cabernet, and watching Conan O'Brien's monologue before climbing into bed.
I love that it's full-bodied but not overly tannic. A swirl in the glass produces thick tears of liquid, indicating a high alcohol content, yet each sip is incredibly smooth. The wine's plummy, mellow flavor pairs perfectly with a piece (or two) of dark chocolate. Have you ever tried Lander-Jenkins Cabernet? What did you think of it?
It may be a stressful time for makers of rosé, but for red wine producers, things are looking up: at the same time that a new scientific study suggests red wine may help you think, the results of a large survey indicate women prefer red over white and rosé wines.
According to a Northumbria University study, men and women performed better in math exams after being given resveratrol, a plant chemical naturally found in red wine; researchers involved say the chemical boosts the brain's blood supply. Incidentally, a Vinexpo survey of more than 4,000 women in the US, UK, France, Japan, and Germany has concluded that women actually prefer reds over whites and rosés, considering red wine compatible with a healthy, balanced diet. The survey results run contrary to the long-held stereotype that women prefer lighter-bodied white wines.
Perhaps the wine industry will take note of this — since apparently 80 percent of women are also in charge of choosing the wine for their household. I love every red from Malbec to Merlot, but now have an excuse to drink that extra glass of wine! Are you surprised to hear the survey results? Are the health benefits among the reasons you drink wine?
One of the wines I enjoyed at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Tasting was Hey Mambo by Don Sebastiani & Sons. The wine is part of their "Other Guys" collection and is considered to be a Sultry Red, bistro-style wine. I'll admit it now: I was definitely drawn to it because of it's swank packaging — oh wait, their white is swanky, their red is sultry. The stark graphic label caught my eye from across the room, and so I decided to give it a try.
The wine itself has quite a lot of character. It's not an amazing wine, but for under $10 a bottle, it's really quite nice. It's a blend of several different grapes and is very fruity with tones of blackberries, raspberries, and chocolate. It's definitely not a wine to go with a serious meal, but if you're headed to a party, or are getting ready for a night out, Hey Mambo will help you slip into your dancing shoes.
This weekend I had the opportunity to taste a lovely sparkling red wine. Even though I knew it was a sparkling Shiraz, I couldn't help but think it would be light colored, like a rosé. However, when I poured Vixen by Fox Creek Wines into my glass, it was definitely a full-bodied red color. The effervescence caused by the bubbles added just the right bit of fizz, and it definitely rounded out the subtle black cherry flavor. Overall, it was very smooth and fruity, but had just enough bubbly that it ended up dancing on your tongue. Sparkling reds are still uncommon in the US, but are increasing in popularity in Australia and I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace on our shores. Available for $19.99.