Two for $20 sounds more like a sale at a cheap clothing store than my local liquor store. For me, two bottles of wine for $20 is much more exciting than 100% cotton crew neck T-shirts in an assortment of spring colors.
Although sale pricing is quite common at the liquor store, this is the first time I’ve noticed a 2 for $20 sale. Unlike clothing stores and supermarkets, liquor stores are restricted by our state regulations from selling below cost. They can’t employ loss leader marketing, taking a loss on some items for the purpose of driving business into the store for more profitable ones.
I’m game for taking a chance on an inexpensive wine with a backup plan of making Sangria with it if it underperforms. There are about a dozen reds from which to choose. A few I’ve tried and am not likely to buy again. I find a California Cabernet Sauvignon and an Argentinean Malbec that look worth a try.
The first one we try is 2014 Crimson Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Crimson Ranch is a new collection of wines from the Mondavi Family. The two other offerings in the collection are a Chardonnay and a Red Blend. Grapes are sourced from various areas of California.
The nose is brightly fruity and a little vegetal. Oak and vanilla are more present in the second glass. The medium-bodied palate is filled with ripe cherry, raspberry, and blackberry. The tannins are firm and end in an easy, medium-length finish. Overall, we’re pleasantly surprised by our $10 wine purchase. It’s on my list to buy again (even if the everyday price is about $13.50).
Wine #1 of our 2 for $20 sale has set the bar pretty high for wine #2, the 2013 Cruz Alta Grand Reserve Malbec. While I didn’t find company information online, the label seems to provide more than enough in the way of specs. But I must admit, I’m a bit leery of an overly ambitious label. This Malbec is made from high altitude, old vine grapes and aged 70% in new French oak and 30% in American oak for nine months. Okay…
As I pour the wine into the decanter, the grape jelly aroma is evident. We give it time to blow off, but essence of barnyard appears in its place. The palate is full-bodied with tobacco notes but the grape jelly flavor overpowers. Where are the oak and vanilla I expect in a Grand Reserve Malbec? The finish becomes tarter over time and we finally relent to implementing Plan B, making Sangria with the remainder of the bottle.
Internet reviews of various vintages or reserve qualities of Cruz Alta Malbec are all over the map, from horrible to wonderful, leading me to suspect that the batch in our blow-out sale was not up to par.
BTW, our Sangria recipe has evolved again. We’re using E&J XO (Black label) brandy in place of rum. Here’s the updated recipe:
- 12 oz. red wine
- 6 oz. triple sec
- 3 oz. E&J XO brandy
- 3 oz. orange juice
- 3 oz. lemon juice and simple syrup mixture (half of each)
Back in the day, we used a store-bought lemon mixer that contained high-fructose corn syrup. Now we make our own lemon mixer with Real lemon juice and simple syrup in a 50/50 ratio. Instead of mixing it up for one or two drinks at a time, we make a one quart batch to keep on hand for Sangria and other cocktails.