Holiday Wine Haul – Black Ink Red Blend

I apologize for trashing this wine on social media.  I really am.

I am here to have an open mind, and try new things.  I am also here to have an opinion.  I speak to this blog like I would speak to anyone about wine.  I am not hiding behind any flowery words or political walls.  I’m going to lay it out for you as painful as sometimes it may be.

Before I even tasted this wine, I attempted to do a little research.  What I did find was that this wine consists of a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Malbec and Zinfandel.  This excited me.  Syrah is just a sexy beast of a grape; violet hues, silky, full bodied, and all kinds of voluptuousness.  The rest of the grape crew was promising me spice, pillowy yet capable tannins, and balance.  This should be a balanced wine; perfect combination of earth, fruit, and tannic structure.  (more about tannins soon, I promise)

I really can’t say where this wine is specifically from.  I did know it was from California, and I believe one of my searches stated Napa, but that is all I got.  We can PRESUME the Zin was coming from Amador County, or Lodi (great growing area for Zin in California).  The rest MAY come from the North Coast of California, but this is just an educated guess.

Who cares anyway – the wine is a loser.

IMG_1363I tasted nothing.  The fruit was so fleeting that I didn’t even notice it was there.  There was this candied oak presence that turned me off instantly.  When I stuck my nose in the glass, I picked up a grape chewing gum smell.  This is just a turn off, and a sensory memory I left in grade school.

Black Ink wasn’t even a good pairing for pizza!  I think pizza is probably one of the easiest foods to pair with wine, specifically red.  You kind of can’t go wrong.; there was a lot of “wrong” going on.  There was also this viscous texture left on my palate after drinking the wine.  What the heck was going on here!

Crossfitters beware!  I know you want to try this because of the tattoo innuendoes, but just trust me and say no.  I may not be able to climb a freaking rope, or do a butterfly pull up, but I got this wine thing.

My sister usually asks me for a wine she can just guzzle; she is not choosey.  She is a music teacher in a grammar school, and a single mom to a four year old; romantic choices have left her consciousness.  I would tell her to take a pass on this $9.99 choice and pick up a box wine for the same price (Lindemans makes a great one; check it out).  Great marketing here, great packaging, and nice idea……if it’s not in the bottle, does this all really matter?




Holiday Wine Haul – Josh Cellars

I was not sure what to expect from a chardonnay priced at $12.99.

I did expect it to taste like it came from California.  Nope.  I wanted it to taste like the varietal chardonnay.  Close.  And I wanted it to be balanced with acidity, fruit and oak.  Closer.

My first mistake; I drank it way to cold.  As Americans, and as New Jerseyans, I see consumers make this mistake often.  Everyone thinks they need to ice the shit out of their white wine.  What this is doing is muting the flavors.  It’s like drinking the wine at 60%, and that is not what anyone wants to do, right?

Once it warmed up, I experienced that nice lemon/lime flavor that comes from Monterey fruit. (the area in California where this wine is sourced) It was, well, nice.  When I stated that I wanted it to taste like where it came from, this is what I was talking about.  I’ve always had wines from this area with more of a tropical feel; sexy, lingering, and a little spicy.  I got lemon/lime – eh.

And there was oak, but not to much.  I hate to say this, but I would have liked a little more.  Stating that is like showing more cleavage and pretending no one notices – more sometimes means MORE.  Chardonnay under $15.00 can be way over oaked and nasty.  I like oak components when done correctly.  That’s what this wine needed; a little oak kick in the ass to balance it out.

Didn’t light my world on fire, but did the job.  Was refreshing, but not life changing.  I wouldn’t be able to distinguish this wine in a blind tasting, but would not be embarrassed to bring it to a dinner party.  Better on it’s own, but could pair well with lighter dishes.  I had chicken with it, and it disappeared.  It’s good blog writing wine, or second bottle wine. (you know, when you are not really paying attention….)


By the way – I had this wine in my Riedel “O” glass.  This is a stemless glass from the very famous wine glass company Riedel. They produce glassware that supports and influences the flavors in wines to release and tell their story.  This does work.  This is not bullshit.  I was a non believer and poo poo’d this for a long time; I was wrong!  Blog post coming on glassware and I will explain further.  Keep drinking out of your mason jars for the time being, but know there is a glassware makeover coming your way!


Holiday Wine Haul – Kaiken Malbec Reserva

I was a fan of the grape Malbec back in the day.

Back in the day no one knew what the hell a Malbec was.

Why love this grape?  Well, for one thing, it can be cheap. (I should say affordable, but, let’s be friends here) You gotta love getting a voluptuous and earthy red wine on the cheap.  What I was drawn to were the dark plum flavors, sometimes smokey finishes, and coco powder nuances. When I couldn’t drink another bottle of Cab, I gravitated to Malbec.

Can we talk about the cheap factor again?  When you head to the South American section of your store, this is the grape you will see in droves.  South American wines give you a bang for your buck if your willing to take a few risks with grapes and places that may foreign to you.  If you are reading this blog, I think you can handle that risk.  Isn’t that what google is for?

IMG_1274Last night I grabbed my “hauled bottle” of Kaiken Reserva Malbec.  My friend Matt got to the bottle before I did.  When I asked him what he thought, he said “It’s sharp and boring”.  Now, that doesn’t make any sense.  Damn, he was right!  The sharpness he picked up on was the alcohol.  Holy alcohol.  We call this a “hot wine” in the biz; when your throat is on fire and all you sense is this aching in your chest.  What drives me crazy is that you know you will be awake with this wine, while experiencing acid reflux, at three in the morning. (guilty)

And it was boring.  It delivered a sweet fruit at first, but then totally fell off.  There was an oak component, but it made the wine clunky.  And way to much candied fruit – my goodness.  I call this the chewing gum effect; artificial fruit flavors that stick around longer than they should.

Alas, it’s a NO for this one.  Good news is I only paid $8.96 for the bottle.