Okay, so if you’re from the United States, or Europe, or Australia, or anywhere with a strong wine culture other than Canada,* $9.95 might seem expensive for over-the-counter wine. But in Canada, wine under ten dollars is hard to find (unless you’re drinking arbor mist, or another “wine drink”). My husband and I recently spent our fifth anniversary weekend in the Niagara region (wine territory), and basically did a bunch of fun things in between drinking various wines. It was glorious. We brought back some of our favorites, but wine-estate wines are also more expensive than LCBO wines (all of our purchases range from $25-$60/bottle). Sometimes you want a bottle of wine to pair with a nice dinner, and sometimes you want some wine to pair with your knee socks and paperback. I have put myself on a mission (along with reading good books, writing a dissertation, and maintaining some semblance of physical and mental health) to find good wines at the LCBO for under ten dollars. We’ll see how long this project lasts (when I find something I like I sometimes get very attached- this *may* be the only one), but for now: meet Trapiche’s 2015 Cab Sauv. This is an Argentinian wine, which seems to have won some awards. I assume that the awards are a good thing. My biggest association with Argentina, as far as wine goes, is inexpensive Malbec. I picked this wine because Trapiche makes my favorite LCBO wine, their $11.45 Malbec. But $11.45 is more than ten dollars, so here we are. PS: this is the hobby at which I am least qualified, but if you’re a wine baby you might find it useful, or at least interesting.
If you’re going to taste some wine, you do it with your eyes first. You can skip this step if you’d like, especially if your goal has more to do with getting drunk than with tasting the wine, but it’s kind of a neat thing to do. You’re basically looking for color and viscosity. In both cases, more of each will usually mean stronger flavors.
This Cab Sauv is medium rich in color: deep burgundy at its darkest, and a kind of rich pink when the light shines through. It doesn’t appear to have any sediment, and is only a little bit viscous.
Step #2 in wine tasting is to smell the wine. If you’re doing a formal tasting, you’ll likely be instructed to smell the wine, and then swish/swivel/aerate the wine before smelling it again. Fancypants guides will tell you all about primary, secondary, and tertiary kinds of smells. I’m not that fancy. I like to try to pick out 1-3 things that I smell in a wine. Identifying smells has helped me to appreciate wine flavors, and especially subtle flavors, more.
This wine has a bouquet** that is a bit rich, but also fruity. Three smells that I identify are: blackberry, cherry, and a spice smell that is almost like cardamom.
If you’re not interested in formal wine tastings, feel free to skip straight to this step (though I do think that practicing the other steps will help you taste more things!). This part includes things like flavor, mouth feel, and sweetness.
This wine is a bit sweeter than I would have thought, based on the smell and dark color, but is by no means overly sweet. The strongest flavor that I get when tasting is cherry, which begins as a sweet taste, but then gets nicely sour.
Cab Sauv Profile
I don’t drink a lot of Cab Sauv, so I had to look this one up. According to this website, CS characteristics include: dark, full body; dark fruit flavors; savory tasting notes. This wine is definitely full bodied with dark fruit flavors, but is more sweet/sour than savory. The effect is nice, but particular.
What dirtbag snacks can I pair this wine with?
Excellent question! Because of the sweet/sour flavor, I would pair this wine with savory snacks. I’m talking: reese peanut butter cups (maybe the mini ones you can buy by the bag?), regular potato chips, and beef jerky. Salty, salty snacks, and whatever cheap entertainment you enjoy on a Sunday night in your home alone. (For the record, I’ve cycled about 16 km today, and might just be low on salt.) For me, that means reading a book and possibly crying about my poor life choices, but you do you.
Update: I just paired this wine with some crusty rolls, guacamole, and twitter, which I highly recommend.
I like this wine. It is easy-drinking (read: great with weird snacks, with a movie, or just all by itself), and while it isn’t my alltimefavorite, it has some nice characteristics. 8/10 for “would I drink this while relaxing after work” and 10/10 for “would I drink this in the tub during a snowstorm.”
*fun fact: Canada has at least two globally renowned wine-producing regions.
**fancy word for “the way a wine smells.”