2010 Fetzer Crimson Winemaker’s Favorite Red Wine Blend
Mendocino County, CA
I admit to reticence when trying this wine, not knowing if a big label’s wine was up to snuff at under $10. Plus, there were a lot of words on that label, which frankly can be off-putting for those not that skilled in wine-label deciphering. I am not that skilled in wine-label deciphering. This particular blend comes courtesy of winemaker Dennis Martin.
It smells like raspberry jam with a hefty dose of tobacco and some mustiness. When drinking, it’s pretty delicious — my expectations were wrong, wrong, wrong. The wine recalls a shortbread cookie with jam including the buttery, slightly burnt crust. Heck, I can even taste the flour dusting. There is also spice — pepper, allspice, star anise — just enough to jazz it up into perfection.
I could drink this wine all night. In fact, I probably will.
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Jasper’s Corner Tap and Kitchen is an appealing Tenderloin escape from the crowds near Union Square in downtown San Francisco, especially if you’re in a drinking mood. The walls are a sleek gray with the occasional geometric patterns and letters embellished on them in shades of blue. Booths and tables are done in dark woods and black. Service is relaxed, and the extensive cocktail and beer lists with seasonal specialties should please most imbibers like myself. The menu is the everpresent mix of snacks, small plates, and large plates I’ve seen in pretty much every San Francisco restaurant I’ve tried so far. That’s not a complaint — just a statement of fact. This one has a bent toward New American and comfort foods.
Friend #1, my husband, and I quickly made our drink selections. Rather, they made their drink selections while I took forever to decide on the Smashing Pumpkin.
Smashing Pumpkin on the left, Friend #1′s drink in the middle, and my husband’s Wiessen Sour on the right.
The Smashing Pumpkin was a heavy drink with a light texture from velvety egg foam. Maple pumpkin butter gave it depth and richness, but you could probably have two without feeling like you swam through calories. Dark rum, amaro, and sherry made for a creative combination of liqueurs with the amaro injecting smooth herbal notes into the mix. I would drink more. I would drink often.
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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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