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Perfectly Decent $8.25 Italian Red

I’ve tried Farnese’s Sangiovese and Montepulciano d’Abrruzzo and wasn’t crazy about them. But last week I read something saying this 2010 Negroamaro was a great buy.

Negroawhat? To the Googles! Wikipedia says:

Negroamaro, also Negro amaro, is a red wine grape variety native to southern Italy. It is grown almost exclusively in Puglia and particularly in Salento, the peninsula which can be visualised as the “heel” of Italy. The grape can produce wines very deep in color. Wines made from Negroamaro tend to be very rustic in character, combining perfume with an earthy bitterness.

The only description the LCBO site offers for the Farnese version is “Medium-bodied & Fruity” (and the photo doesn’t match the current bottle). Wine Align has “clear garnet colour; floral, blueberry and sweet cherry aromas; dry, medium body; cherry and plum flavours with a touch of spice to finish”

“Amaro” is Italian for “bitter”, but that’s not really what I got from the Farnese version. Comparing it with one of my favourite cheap Italian reds (Montalto N’ero d’avola/Cabernet Sauvignon) it was darker purple and just a tad sweeter, but not jammy sweet. But I have a taste for dry, rustic, food-friendly Italian reds, so you might not taste any sweetness at all. The product sheet from the distributor includes a review comparing it to a California Zinfandel.

Overall, I’d say it’s a perfectly decent red wine to have with pizza or meaty pasta, or some other casual thing that needs red wine. Plus, it gives you another fun Italian word to wrap your tongue around.

(If you have another $0.75 to spare, wine access says the Mezzomondo Negroamaro 2010 is a killer buy at $9.00. I haven’t tried it, but I will!)

Salute!

Contrasts.

My spouse is allergic to wine — wine, a.k.a. the Universal Random Gift. Last week, I drank her birthday wine. At the time, I didn’t think I liked it, because Merlot.

 

It was Kacaba 2007 Reserve Merlot. At 5 years old, it was a lot more WINE than I usually drink. I liked the smoothness, but I don’t usually love a Merlot (such a weird combo of heavy darkness but fruity flavours… should be the best of all worlds but usually just seems to be arguing with itself) so I kept saying “This is great for a Merlot” and “this is a great MERLOT.”
Today, I knew I’d want wine after a kind of ridiculous day, so at the grocery store I went into one of those places that are popping up in grocery stores and headed to the cheap section. Most of them don’t have a great selection and what they do have is kind of overpriced, IMO, so I figured I’d just get some plonk. I was torn between $12 plonk I was slightly worried I’d had before and hated, and $10 plonk I knew would be bad but figured wouldn’t be THAT bad.

So I got the $10 plonk, namely, the French Cross 1L Cab-Merlot. Cause I drink cheap stuff all the time and am often sure I can’t tell the difference between the okay and the bad wines.

Turns out, yes I can.

I mean, it’s not TORTURE bad. I’m drinking it. It’s ok. It’s really only almost ok, though, and really only with food. It has a strange just-plain-alcohol burn that I haven’t tasted in a while and usually associate with a strong cheap vodka cocktail. Not with wine. After that, it’s a bit sour and has kind of “red wine flavour” going on. That’s all.

Drink it with a really greasy takeout pizza, definitely. Supply it at an open-bar wedding reception nobody’s rich parents are paying for, totally. Otherwise, buy the $12 plonk. And know that you can, in fact, tell the okay wines apart from the bad wines.