14 Hands Hot to Trot
Welcome to Swill or Swell, a weekly series where I taste grocery store wines and let you know if they’re worth the buck or just meant for the drain!
CAVEAT! As you read this, please keep in mind that wine is subjective! This means that everyone enjoys different things and something I like might not be something you like and vice versa. I’ll be as objective as I can with facts about the wine’s quality, but in the end if your opinion differs from mine...that’s perfectly fine! Wine is only worth drinking if YOU like drinking it!
LET’S INTRODUCE THE WINE
So, it’s actually a funny story about how I came into possession of this wine. I didn’t buy this wine nor was I gifted it (on purpose anyway). Don’t worry, I didn’t steal it either (if I was going to steal a wine, I’d like to think it’d be one over $10). This wine ended up in my grocery order during one of my pandemic online order/curbside pickups. Of course, with the pandemic going on, they didn’t want it back. Thus, I got to keep the bottle--along with a box of granola, fresh tomatoes, and a box of hot pockets.
This wine is a Red Blend. All that tells you is that the wine is a blend of two or more red grape varieties. After a bit of digging, I found that it is certainly more than two grapes that go into this wine...try nine! This wine is mostly Merlot and Syrah, but it has small quantities of: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Mourvedre, and Grenache.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Ugh, Merlot. How boring. But that’s not true! Merlot is a very underrated grape. Some of the most expensive wines from Bordeaux, France are made from Merlot! I blame Paul Giamatti for the Merlot hate (if you haven’t seen the movie Sideways, take this as your sign to go check it out!)
From the Merlot we can expect nice red fruit flavors: think plum, strawberry, and cherry. The Merlot also helps to tone down the tannins in the other major grape in this blend: Syrah. Also known as Shiraz, Syrah will likely give this wine more black fruit flavor, a bit of a darker color, and more tannin (the component that makes your mouth feel dry)
14 HANDS HOT TO TROT FUN FACTS
Before we get into the review, I wanted to share a few fun facts about the producer of this wine. 14 Hands was launched in 2005 by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates (yes, of Chateau Ste. Michelle) as a restaurant-only brand. This meant the wines were initially only available on restaurant wine lists. The wines were an immediate hit thanks to their burst of flavor and low price point. Soon, consumers were asking for the wine at their local shop and this is when 14 Hands expanded from the restaurant to the shop shelf.
The name 14 Hands comes from the height of the Wild Mustangs that used to roam the hills along the Columbia River. The winery now produces over 2 million cases of wine every year!
Alright, enough chit chat. Onto the review!
WINE TASTING NOTES
Look: Medium ruby w/ hints of garnet
Smell: Baked raspberry & black cherry, cinnamon/baking spice, plum, hint of eucalyptus
Taste: Lots of cooked red fruit on the palate, alcohol is slightly overwhelming ( better have 1 hr of decanting), med plus tannin in front of mouth, medium acidity, medium bodied.
Food Pairing - Leaning towards meat heavy dishes: meatloaf, pork chops (especially with a sauce of sorts with shallots & butter ooh or a fig jam reduction sauce). I think it could stand up to steak as well. For vegetarian dishes...I think you need either a smoked element or roasted element to match this wine. It could work well with a creamy sharp cheddar mac’n’cheese as well!
Occasion - Everyday table wine, nothing fancy. I also think this is the perfect Sangria wine.
Rating - Out of the bottle...not a fan! But let it sit for a bit and decant off some of that overwhelming alcohol and it’s quite swell!
Overall, this wine isn’t one I’d turn my nose up at if I was offered some...but I’m not sure I’d buy it again. Unless...I’m planning on making Sangria! Something about the high alcohol and burst of fruit flavors that makes me think it would go perfectly with some orange juice, triple sec, and fresh fruit!
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