I happen to share not only names but also tastes in wine with Jess Day from New Girl. That said, I’ve been trying to expand my palate and my knowledge of wine over the past year. I will now attempt to pass on some of my limited and budget constricted knowledge to you in a wine review column which I will try to write as regularly as I can. But first, a disclaimer: this article is meant for students who are over 21 and live off campus or have some good friends off campus who’s house you hang out at a lot. Now onto the recommendation; we’re gonna go with a red for this one. Budget per bottle for this column will be $15 or less.
Dynamite Vineyard Merlot (2013-15)
You can find this for around $12 at Kroger. Merlots are a bold, full-flavored red wine. They also tend to be heavy on dark fruit flavors such as blackberry, black cherry or prune. They can have some herbal secondary flavors and tend to have more earthy finishing flavors when aged. However, Merlots are low in tannin flavor. When making wine, the dark red color is produced by longer contact with the dark grape skins and seeds. Tannin flavor occurs when grapes are in contact with the woody grape seeds for a longer period of time. This produces a somewhat dry sensation, almost like if you steep black tea for a really long time. Merlots like this one have dark fruity flavors and light tannin, giving the wine a silky sensation and slight bitterness to curb the sweetness of the fruit and herbal flavors. Overall I really enjoy the full, silky, and warm sensation of this wine.
A good rule of thumb for wine is that as it gets lighter and more bubbly, you should chill it more. Basically, temperature changes and can improve or wreck the flavor and aroma of your wine, so chill carefully. Basically, your wine shouldn’t ever be above 68 degrees (room temperature) or below 45 degrees (the temperature of your fridge). For a darker to mid-dark red like a merlot, your best bet is to serve it around room temperature which is where I enjoyed this one since it already has a very pleasant warm quality.
A good rule of thumb for most wines is to let them “breath” (basically uncork the bottle and let it stand) for about an hour before drinking. This will get all the aromas flowing and your wine will taste a lot fuller and smell nicer. Grabbing a few different shaped wine glasses at your local thrift shop can definitely make the experience of trying new wines a lot more dynamic and fun, plus it feels super fancy. I would recommend drinking this one in a glass that tapers in slightly at the top to give you the full force of the aroma as you drink it.
And finally, this wine has a very full flavor, so it pairs well with beef. If you shop on Monday, you can get discounted meat at Harris Teeter and if you shop on Tuesday, Kroger meat deals are your best friend (especially with easy to load coupons on the Kroger app). At Kroger, I got a pretty inexpensive London broil cut and some green beans that went really well with this Merlot. Prepare it in your oven with some herbs, some garlic, and some butter and you’ll have a very fancy (very easy), but not very expensive dinner and wine pairing. Other good pairings fall pairings would be some beef stew, a roast, or some pasta with a hearty red sauce. All in all, this is a solid red that will make you feel super classy but won’t break your bank.