Two Sweet Reds

The title of this post is a bit tongue-in-cheek, as only one of these wines is self-described as “off-dry.”  [Please see update below]  My wife called to say she would bring home some ribs and tri-tip left over from a work luncheon.  Anticipating that at least the ribs would be a little sweet, I thought it was the right time to open the

Red Velvet 2011 Zinfandel
back label says “off-dry”
Lodi, CA; 13.5% ABV
from Cupcake Vineyards, Livermore, CA
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 17 June

RedVelvet_2011_ZinfandelHowever, I quickly got bored with this wine.  Its flavors are not bad — tangy medium red cherry and raspberry, some raisin, and a little black raspberry after some air — but the wine is rather simple and I found its sweetness a little cloying.  If you’re looking for a reasonably tasty sweet red that’s not too sweet, you could certainly do worse.  However, I decided to move on to a “more serious” wine.




Pra Vinera 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
North Coast, CA; 13.9% ABV
$6 at the Richmond, CA, store on 9 June.  Likely still also at Berkeley.

PraVinera_2012_CabSauvThis wine has been around for a while, and I hadn’t been too curious about yet another generic Cab.  However, during the last sale, I saw many people eagerly making off with boxes of it, so I decided to finally try it.  Last night, I thought it would be some relief from the “off-dry” Red Velvet.  However, very much to my surprise, this Cabernet did not taste all that much less sweet.  Granted, it was more substantial and complex than the Red Velvet, with flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, and some cranberry, but it was also sweeter than I really like, certainly than I expected.  I would guess that’s why many folks liked it so much.  You could drink off-dry wine without being called on it.  🙂

Both of these wines went fine with the lightly sweet meat, and I’d call them both [see below] the Red Velvet Drinkable.

Update 19 June: I opened the stored half bottle (stoppered with very little air) of the Pra Vinera a few days later.  At first, it tasted much like it had on the first night.  However, after about 20 minutes of air in the glass, it showed nice acid that balanced the jammy, ripe fruit.  I now suspect I was wrong about its containing a lot of residual sugar, and I have to change my opinion to Thumbs Up.

13 thoughts on “Two Sweet Reds

  1. Woodsman

    People, forget the red. The Chardonnay is outstanding. I have spent $25 on chards and they were good but for 5.99 this wine is outstanding. If you like butter and smooth enjoyable fruit this is the wine for you. [ed. note: I presume he’s talking about the Pra Vinera Chardonnay, although I forget which vintage is current.]

  2. PW

    Love it when I repeat myself. I’d blame senility but in reality it’s just the delay in my text to speech on my phone app. (Well maybe a little senility… ) Sometimes when I scroll to proofread, I can’t scroll up enough to see that my typing has actually worked & repeat. Only to see it after it’s actually posted. Lol

  3. EHL

    BW….had the Pra Vinera Cab a while back and not impressed at all with it. See…..I can agree with you, too, on some matters.

    A rather pedestrian bottle, with vanilla highlights that stood out…..although Steve, the wine guy at the Oakland GO, thought it was truly special and wrote a rapturous review for potential customers…..which probably resulted in cases flying off the shelf, although a lot is still sitting there.

    The Cate Cab was much, much better… was the Fetzer, and it can nowhere compare to the Road Less Traveled, Stellenbosch South African Cab!

    Always — EHL ;}

    1. BargainWhine Post author

      Hi EHL. Thanks for the second on the Pra Vinera Cab, although there’s no need to agree with me or anyone else. Keep letting us know what you’re liking.

      Instead of getting something new but uninspiring-looking, I also got another bottle of the RLT Cab. I think it’s the best red around now for the price. Maybe I will have to finally try that Cate, since so many people here like it so much.

      1. PW

        I’d been reading mixed reviews on the RLT…but it’s here now. I’m thinking maybe I’ll pick one up. I’m a bit concerned about the listed green pepper comments though…hate that.

        Wasn’t a fan of the Pra Vinera. When I deleted it off my app, all my reasons why went with it. I just have DNB written on my purchase notes. The only thing I can remember was that it was fine straight out of the bottle (no decanting or aerating) but it morphed so quickly in the glass that by the time I finished one glass I thought it was already beginning to taste over oxidized. It was worse on day two. We tried two bottles to see if it was a bottle variation and exactly the same thing happened to it. Again for the first hour or so, it just rapidly changed. One of the quickest morphing (weirdest) wines I’ve tried yet.

        I had thought about trying the RLT but I’m concerned about the green-pepper tastes that you mentioned.

        1. Darrell

          PW, the green pepper component of the RLT isn’t that bad unless you can’t take this in some nice Bordeaux, Classified Growths that is. Quite unusual that the Pra Vinera changed so rapidly. Even old, old wines take hours to morph.

          1. PW

            I am going to try it. It will be interesting to taste.
            And I agree re: the Pra Vinera. I’ve never had anything shift as fast as it did (I’m not talking about the subtle changes as a wine airs…but I’m talking going from drinkable to a bit sour in an hour+…it was just weird).

            And to BW, I’m always willing to try a wine, at least once…my general rule of thumb is 2 or 3 different wines (of a similar style/blend etc) from a certain region or a specific a type of grapes or style (like Chianti…I cannot like it, no matter how many times I try and have given up on it) just to make sure it’s not a specific vintage or label that I don’t like. I’m willing give it resting time to see if it will improve.

            1. BargainWhine Post author

              Hi PW. I’m also surprised by your description of the rapid shift in your bottles of Pra Vinera Cab. I’m pretty sure I took more than an hour to finish my glass of it, and it hadn’t changed very much. However, I still have a stoppered half bottle of it, and I’ll report back when I open it.

            2. BargainWhine Post author

              Hi PW, et al.. Please see my update above about the Pra Vinera Cab. I found the second half did indeed become more acid, but I liked that.

            3. PW

              Interesting results BW. I’m glad you found it to your liking. I have no idea why our bottles morphed so quickly but glad it doesn’t seem to be across the board with this wine.

        2. BargainWhine Post author

          Hi PW. I also think the green bell pepper component in the RLT Cab isn’t very much like what I usually describe as GBP, and that you’re likely to be fine with it. Of course, I could be wrong, and I will be interested to learn your reactions, especially if you have some to try the next day.

        3. EHL

          Greetings PW,

          Have no concern…….this is a spectacular Cab for $5, especially on the second and third days, when the bottle has had plenty of time to breathe.

          When first opened, the RLT South African Stellenbosch Cab has an overpowering and somewhat off-putting bouquet — with the bell pepper overtones, mixed in with leather, earth and wood aromas……at least to my unrefined nose……LOL…..and it tasted just OK.

          …….but later it revealed itself to be quite an elegant, rich and smoky, mysterious, sophisticated and deeply satisfying red… eyeopener for me, really, as my experience with SA reds is very limited. Now I understand what all the fuss is about.

          After finishing a bottle, I quickly bought a full case when a shipment recently arrived this past week in the SF Bay area.

          What a find! (Should I have bought TWO cases…..LOL????)

          Regards — EHL

          1. PW

            I found the RLT at our local GO today. I picked up two bottles. I almost only got one because I have this “two bottle curse” that if I buy two, I invariably hate it…but I’m going with the recommendations and did get two. I’ll air it. There was plenty if I like it, to return for.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s