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Achieve Balance from 8 California Red Blends

Talks between my husband and I over a holiday schedule is comparable to UN negotiations. They can sometimes go smoothly and other times cause threat of war and trade embargoes. I find it difficult to blend his families traditions with mine. His folks live five hours away so we can’t do the “lunch at your parents and dinner at mine” action. His family has large gatherings, while my side is very low key. It is funny how even little things one family does can be outright bizarre to another. I remember discussing Christmas presents for our daughter, Chris stated we had to wrap Santa’s presents. “What the hell are you talking about, Santa doesn’t wrap gifts. Santa doesn’t have time for that shit, and Santa is using our wrapping paper? Nope, no way!” I know that seems small, but you would have thought he instructed me to light the couch on fire with my reaction. In a relationship you have to compromise, blend, and bend. Routines and rituals are my jam, which make me great at some things in a relationship, and awful at others such as breaking my routine. In honor of surviving the holidays through self improvement/medication I thought introducing you to some of my favorite California Red Blends would be fitting. I know I have a way of infusing alcohol as a solution to all of life’s conundrums, but the Red Blend is more of an inspiration. You see, like people, grapes can sometimes be too strong, too bold, mild, or fragile. When blended, the sum is much greater than its parts. I know there are plenty of other countries and regions that make amazing blends, but I like California and I like Red. I told you I have difficulty with change. If you want white wine reviews you will have to get Maggie, our wine buyer, to stop drinking and start typing. 

Winemakers create blends by combining different varietals and/or vintages of grapes to create a complex, yet balanced wine. Usually the blend will feature 40 to 50% of one grape and lesser percentages of two to four more varietals. The mix of different grapes adds so much flavor, color, and layers to the wine. These Red Blends will satisfy over the holidays, and year round, due to their complex and diverse flavor profiles. Although they are all bold, they aren’t over the top and are well balanced. If only all of our interpersonal relationships could be that healthy. So just like the wines below try to find balance through the stressful days ahead. If your partner or family member is being too bold or bitter, remember you can be the subtle sweet flavor to create perfection…or throw it out, sometimes the crop can’t be salvaged. Wait am I talking about grapes or people? 




Starter Blends - $10 or Less

Apothic Red Winemakers Blend - Lodi and Central Valley - 2013

Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon

You have seen this wine, it is quite popular for a reason. This is the perfect bottle of red to begin your blend journey. The price point is around $10. The flavors are bold from dark fruits such as cherry and blueberry. Its rounded off with hints of vanilla and mocha. Apothic Red is smooth and easy to drink, with a kick of spice. If you are going for a Merlot, do yourself a favor and venture out and try this wine.

Bogle Essential Red - Clarksburg, Lodi, Sonoma and Monterey - 2013

Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah

The ripe fruit flavors from sweet cherries and subtle hints of vanilla make this wine robust without being over the top. Its a great wine to serve with pasta or pizza. My sweet red wine drinking friends have actually enjoyed this semi dry blend.

Black Ink Red Blend - Napa Valley - 2013

Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Zinfandel

The winemaker’s notes state it is blackberry cobbler merged with black plums. Cherry and licorice are also prominent in this lighter flavored red blend. If you are not a fan of super bold reds this is a perfect blend for you. Its flavors are subtle making it a very smooth easy to drink wine. This is a good one to serve at Thanksgiving, plus it has a rad label.

Dark Horse Big Red Blend - Argentina, California and Australia - 2013

Malbec, Rubired, Syrah, Tempranillo, Merlot

My favorite by far for a red blend under $10. This wine is big and bold, if you are a Cabernet fan you will dig this blend. It’s got deep plush flavors and color from red berries with a toasty oaky finish. Pair this red blend with a ribeye steak!

Sugar Shack Enchanted Red - Lodi - 2013

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel

This ones for you sweet wine drinkers. It is fruity and delicately sweet. I am not a fan of sweet wine, but this one was pretty good. I paired it with spicy chili like the winemaker’s notes directed and it was quite enjoyable. The black cherry flavor gives it the sweet quality, but the peppery finish keeps it away from Kool-Aid territory.

Next Level Blends - $30 & Up

Are you ready to stop messing around? Good! If you enjoy the wines above treat yourself to the bottles below! We can special order wine at any of our locations, on top of 10% off case discount.

Klinker Brick 1850˚ - Lodi - 2012

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Petite Sirah and 10% Old Vine Zinfandel

Klinker Brick Winery is known for their zinfandel, which is fantastic. This blend is definitely one to try. Eucalyptus, pepper, and raspberries are prominent in the aroma, but the raspberry is definitely the star of the show when it comes to the wine’s flavor. The peppery raspberry and cherry flavors round out this silky red blend. The winery’s name comes from Klinker Bricks, they are historical bricks you see on many historical homes and buildings throughout Lodi, CA. They’re unique in color and shape and are known to be stronger than an average brick, a perfect parallel to the wine they produce. 1850˚ is the temperature that brick is fired. The wine is smart and playful just like its name.

Francis Ford Coppola Eleanor- Rutherford, Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley - 2012

28% Syrah, 6% Petite Sirah, 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Syrah, 2% Merlot

Balanced, fruit forward, jam berries, subtle oak and spice. Juicy and smokey, simply put, it is romantic. The art deco inspired label is lovely along with the wine’s namesake Eleanor, Francis Coppola’s wife of 50 years. You know people use the term “made with love”, but you can seriously taste the love in this wine.

Cain Cuvee NV10- Rutherford, Oakville, Yountville, Spring Mountain, and Los Carneros -2010

48% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Cabernet Franc, and 6% Petit Verdot

Smooth and velvety with flavors of dark chocolate, berries, and sage make this wine so versatile. It isn’t fussy, it is simply a great medium bodied wine! You don’t have to pair it with anything, yet it goes with everything. This wine is like your favorite pair of jeans; not trendy, looks good, fits beautifully, and you can dress it up or down.

Charles Krug Family Reserve Generations - Napa Valley - 2012

83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, 5% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot

(Considered a Cab, but I love it so much I had to include)

Full bodied, deep toasty aromas, with flavors of brown sugar and dark berries make this bottle of wine solid, but innovative. The wine’s pays homage to the four generations of the Mondovi Family who have taken Charles Krug’s vineyard to the state of the art award winning winery it is today. If you have been in a long term relationship with cabernet, its ok to go out with this fun eccentric friend for the night to break the norm.