Barefoot Merlot Review

Name: Barefoot Merlot
Type: Red
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: Non-vintage
Price: $8.99

Barefoot wines have interesting marketing. They all have these stickers indicating that they won some wine competition. I’m not really aware of the competitive wine circuit so I can’t judge all this but I suspect they sponsor the competitions. It must work. People must like those stickers and buy the wine on that basis (“Look, this one won a competition and that one didn’t!”).

The judges at those competitions had a crappy job…and I recognize the irony of me saying that. Every bottle of Barefoot I’ve ever tasted has been utterly pedestrian. This merlot is no exception, in every sense of that phrase. The color is appropriate and it smells of boysenberry and tobacco. The flavor has berries, spice, a touch of smoke and a medium finish.

It’s not a bad wine, it’s just unexceptional, which is normal at this price but one can do better.

Bottle of Barefoot Merlot wine

Barefoot Red Moscato Review

Name: Barefoot Red Moscato
Type: Red
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: Non-Vintage
Price: $5.99

I’m not sure how to categorize this wine. It’s a Moscato, which is supposed to be white. It’s named “Red” but due to some apparent mixing of red and white wine it has a color that I’d describe as a rose, maybe a touch darker.

It smells and tastes like cherries. It’s very light and slightly effervescent, as a Moscato ought to be. There’s a very light touch of acidity on the short finish. This is a deft addition to the Barefoot portfolio because a red Moscato is somewhat intriguing and while the flavor is sweet, it’s several shades less sweet than the Barefoot Sweet Red wine.

This is a prototypical summer wine. Good for pleasing crowds of people who aren’t wine connoisseurs, in fact, it closely resembles my memory of what a wine cooler tastes like and could easily be altered into a passable sangria. I wouldn’t bring it to a party unless I was crashing, but if you used it in the punch bowl at your own affair, none would be the wiser.

Bottle of Barefoot Red Moscato wine

Kris Pinot Grigio Review

Name: Kris Pinot Grigio
Type: White
Origin: Italy
Year: 2013
Price: $12.99

Kris is consistently one of my favorite summertime Pinot Grigios. It has gotten a bit more expensive over time but I found a great deal on this bottle at a Wegman’s market. Kris makes a more substantial Pinot Grigio than you typically find. Many wines of this type are so light and delicate that there’s barely any flavor in my opinion. It’s a wine for folks that don’t really like wine. Kris always makes theirs with more color, character and flavor and this one is no exception.

It has a light straw color with an aroma of citrus and honeysuckle. There’s a hint of vanilla when it first makes contact with your tongue and a light mouthfeel. The flavor progresses with some light acidity, a slight nuttiness and more citrus fruit. This is another great, affordable Pinot Grigio from Kris, highly recommended.

Bottle of Kris Pinot Grigio

Rex-Goliath Merlot

Name: Rex-Goliath Merlot
Type: Red
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: non-vintage
Price: $10.99

This is another repeat visit for me and I’ve enjoyed the Rex-Goliath wines in the past so I was looking forward to this. As usual, the bottle is talking about that huge rooster and bragging about winning wine competitions. The color is a light ruby hue and the nose is softly aromatic with plenty of raspberry. The flavor is very fruit forward, with raspberry, cherry and boysenberry notes. It’s a lighter bodied wine with very little tannin and a round, supple body.

This wine is fairly direct, there aren’t layers of complexity here, but I would expect that for the price. It’s a very affable wine for short money, well in keeping with the Rex-Goliath tradition.

Bottle of Rex-Goliath Merlot

Menage a Trois Cabernet Sauvignon Review

Name: Menage a Trois Cabernet Sauvignon
Type: Red
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2012
Price: $8.99

I’ve had this same wine in other years and it was just ok. But I saw it on sale and I know it’s widely distributed so I thought I’d give it another go. The name of the wine is a slam dunk from a marketing perspective and no doubt the reason for its success and wide distribution. I mean, if you’re having dinner with your girlfriend and her roommate, is there another wine one could serve that would be more appropriate?

The wine is ruby colored and fragrant, with scents of dark berries. The flavor is somewhat understated, dark berries again with a hint of spice and it’s somewhat tannic. Not super tannic but they definitely make themselves known. The tannins quickly give way to a medium finish. It’s an ok wine…again. I think you can do better for the price, the quality just isn’t on par with the name…which is second to none.

Bottle of Menage a Trois Cabernet Sauvignon

Cupcake Merlot Review

Name: Cupcake Merlot
Type: Red
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2012
Price: $10.99

In another marketing coup for wineries, I think Cupcake sells a ton of wine primarily because of their delicious name. People love cupcakes, it’s like a cultural phenomenon that I don’t entirely understand. It’s on the way out at this point, but still, it’s pretty amazing that a whole industry arose to fill the seemingly insatiable desire of Americans for cupcakes. Why not just cakes? Too fattening? Not portable enough? Makes no sense.

Anyway, this is Cupcake’s Merlot. The problem with calling a wine “Cupcake” is that wine never tastes like cupcakes, it sets the wrong stage for a wine’s flavor. This wine is ruby colored and cherry scented. The flavor is fruity as well, with a medium mouthfeel and mild tannins. The finish is short but the overall experience is decidedly decent. Again, it’s hard to deliver on the promise of cupcakes, but I’d give it a 5 out of 10.

Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon Red Wine Review

Name: Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon
Type: Red
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2012
Price: $10.99

This is a pleasant wine for sure. A dark ruby color, scents of blueberry and jam. The flavor is fruit-forward with berries and spice pelting the palate. Soft tannins and a medium finish round out the affair. This is a mouth-watering wine, one of the better Cupcake wines for certain. I drank it without accompaniment but it would pair well with pasta and meat sauce or some cheese raviolis.


Bottle of 2012 Cupcake Cabernet Sauvignon

Trying Out Trader Joe’s House Riesling

Name: Joseph Handler Pfalz Riesling
Type: White
Origin: Germany
Year: 2013
Price: $6.99

I was in Trader Joe’s the other day in Nashua, NH and they were sampling this riesling from Germany. I don’t know how they can import a wine from Germany that doesn’t taste like crap for $6.99 but here it is. I sampled it and the guy there described it as having a pleasant acidity and not at all sweet. I’ll give him the former but not the latter.

Most people wouldn’t describe this as a sweet wine, per se. But it is described right on the bottle as semi-sweet and I think that’s on target. Many people don’t know this but rieslings can run from very dry to very sweet even though most people assume they are sweet. I once had a minor argument about this because someone didn’t believe that riesling could be dry at all. I’m pretty sure they still didn’t believe me at the end, but it’s true.

This wine is a very pale yellow color and the aroma is very subdued. The flavors are not though. It has piercing citrus flavors, a jolt of acidity and a medium finish that contains the zest of all that citrus fruit. Very crisp and clean, low (10%) alcohol and overall pretty refreshing at this price point. This style of wine isn’t necessarily my thing but it has its place for sure. In my opinion that place would be beside the pool on a hot summer day.


Bottle of 2013 Joseph Handler Riesling

2012 Cupcake Red Velvet Wine Review

Name: Cupcake Red Velvet
Type: Red
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2012
Price: $10.99

I’ve previously gone on about how calling a wine Cupcake is marketing genius but sets an expectation that won’t be met. They’ve one-upped this strategy by calling this one Red Velvet, bringing to mind a niche cupcake that some people LOVE and I think is just so-so.

It is a dark, almost purple-ish colored wine with a slightly chocolate-y aroma, but mostly dark berries. It has a rich mouthfeel and distinct tannins. It’s a pretty good wine, but again, it doesn’t deliver on the marketing promise of a red velvet cupcake. If you want a dessert wine…get one…but this isn’t one. If you want a cupcake, then buy a cupcake. This is just a decent wine with berry and chocolate flavors.


2012 Cupcake Red Velvet Wine

14 Hands Merlot Red Wine Review

Name: 14 Hands Merlot
Type: Red
Grape: Merlot
Origin: U.S. – California
Year: 2012
Price: $9.99

This wine, while being an decent wine in a vacuum…is the ugly sister of the Cab in the same vintage. Similar in color, but with a less appealing aroma, a lot more spice and barely any tannins. To my palate this is just a lot lower quality wine for the same price. I would seek out the cabernet of the same vintage and pour all my money into that…as I have done in fact.


Bottle of 2012 14 Hands Merlot Wine