The old adage don’t judge a book by its cover transcends many different facets of our lives. We are all guilty of it at times. It could be in meeting someone for the first time, or opting out of buying a new CD because of the jacket cover. In a recent marketing fad there are a number of wines that have funny, and sometimes downright racy, labels. While some are just good for a chuckle, some of these wines are well worth checking out. Granted none of them are going to win any wine of the year honors. However, in terms of value there are some real finds that are readily available out there. Here are some of my favorites.
Let’s start with the Magnificent Wine Company located in the Columbia Valley, Washington. Their wines are the ones with the very plain black and white labels that just say House Wine, Steak House, Fish House, etc. However there is nothing plain about these wines. They are producing some great Cabernet blends on the red side and Chardonnay blends for the whites. They have been highly rated in the top wine magazines (Spectator, Enthusiast, etc.) and for good reason. The same goes for the Red Truck Wines, which is actually an offshoot of Cline Cellars in Sonoma. They also produce a variety of reds, whites and roses under the Red Truck, White Truck and Pink Truck labels. While all the labels feature classic American trucks, these are not “powerhouse” wines. The blends are extremely well structured, balanced and food friendly (so much so that my wife and I served it at our wedding!). You can find all of these wines for under $10, making them all terrific values.
Also coming out of California is The Big Red Monster (which locally you can find by the glass at The TapHouse in Tuckahoe, NY). The label is a comedic spoof for a promotion of an old style horror movie. The wine is nothing but good California juice made by two of the best winemakers in Cali (Bob Pepi and Jeff Booth). They figured out how to keep the costs down without losing the quality of a fun Zinfandel/Syrah blend. It has lots of big fruit, spice and even a little vanilla to smooth it out. Fun drinkin’ wine!
I saved the two most “inappropriate” labels for last. I am sure you have seen the fat Italian guy sitting down, sipping wine with a giant Il Bastardo label above him. Don’t be scared! He’s a pretty good dude, and the wine in his bottle is quite tasty for under $8. It is pure Sangiovese from Tuscany, the same grape they use in Chianti. The wine has lots of ripe cherry, nice tannins and a delicate feel. Grab a bottle the next time you are doing a pizza and pasta night.
Then there’s the Bitch….and no I am not referring to (fill in the blank with whoever came to mind). The label just has a pink oval with the word Bitch in it. My wife likes to bring a bottle of this to parties as a fun gift for the hostess. However, after trying it for the first time at a barbeque….the Bitch rocks!!! It is a Grenache from Barossa, Australia and really has a lot going on. It has the strawberry and cherry you would expect, but it also has an earthy, smoky quality that is quite intriguing. Since you can get this at most places for around $9 a bottle, it is clearly another winner. Again, the key to finding a lot of these deals is doing a little research on where the wines are made and possibly if they are affiliated with a winery that you already like. And of course the fun part, keep tasting new things!
Have you found a fun labeled wine that you’re into right now? I would love to hear about it….