Some of you might think I don’t like California wine, given how often California wine comes in for criticism. Nothing could be further from the truth. I dislike dishonest and cynical wine, and a lot of that just happens to come from California.
I am pleased to report, however, that not all California wine is that way. The Tamas ($10, purchased, available at Kroger, Goody Goody, Super Target) is an example of what a $10 California red blend could be if producers paid more attention to the wine and less attention to their focus groups.
This is a juicy, fruity wine with lots of ripe cherry, ready for beef or burgers. Wine geeks will say that’s the way a wine made with cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah, and barbera from the Central Coast should taste. But, and this is the important bit, the Tamas also has structure: some acid and even tannins — almost unheard of in grocery store red blends — that give it a backbone and make it something more to drink than grape juice with alcohol.
This is red wine for people who want red wine for dinner (Christmas dinner, perhaps?) but who are scared of buying something they won’t like or are intimidated by price. It’s another fine effort from Tamas, which is one of my favorite producers but doesn’t seem to get much attention from anyone but me.