The First Vine Red Wine Blend (Sonoma, CA) is one cheap glass of wine. But there are times when you know only a cheap wine will do. Those times are when you don’t care what you’re drinking — you just want something vaguely alcoholic in your throat and so you should not spend much money to get it. Those times are also the times in which you’ve been waiting forever for something stressful to be over and it finally, finally is and you’re too relieved to buy alcohol you want to savor – you just want to drink it.
But enough about me. This wine smells mildly of leather, cherry, and sulfur. Yes, I said sulfur. But I meant chemicals and plastic. The nose is all-around unremarkable unless you count that it should serve as a warning. Drinking it is a little more exciting. It’s heavy on the leather, and that sulfite taste is strong. So if you don’t mind a bit of chemical with your grape, you’ll be all right with this wine. It mostly reminds me of sharp herbs, almost like munching on a curry leaf. For fruit, my husband tastes grape, I taste cherry with thin vanilla but agree that the aftertaste is grapey.
I could do without the chemical element, but honestly, I’ve had much worse $3.99 bottles of wine.
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Luxardo Maraschino Original Liqueur
This is a spirit of legend for me, in that I’d seen it in a million cocktail recipes before I could ever track it down. Now that it’s finally appeared at my local ABC store, I can explore it. And it’s full of shockers. Per Luxardo’s website, the spirit is distilled from the marasca cherry and aged for two years before being diluted and sweetened. When I think maraschino, I think of the dessert topping and thus (1) sweet and (2) reddish-pink. This spirit is neither.
It’s clear as it can be for one. And there’s nothing sweet about the nose. The smell is a blend of cherry and almond that makes me wish it were in ice cream form, like now. I’m not talking toppings. I’m talking the main event.
Okay, the Gourmez, just drink it already! Fine, fine. So about that sweetness…it’s there, but its taste is pure sugar in undissolved, granular form. The sweetness bears no resemblance to most mixers’ almost plastic taste and its very light. Vanilla notes are strong, but it’s the spirit’s nuttiness that’s most surprising. Cherry comes across as the least of its ingredients.
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Napa River Napa County Merlot 2008
Napa Valley, CA
I can’t pick anything up from the nose of this merlot, but I’m not complaining. It’s a delicious wine. It’s thin-bodied, very smooth, and just to the right of dry. The prominent berry flavors are present in equal parts of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry like a fruit punch blend. A mellow cocoa accents the berry bounty, helping it all glide down more easily. Small traces of leather and spice round out the glass.
This is definitely a merlot worth trying. I may just keep a few around.
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