One of the things that I don’t like about this job is how cynical it has made me about grocery store wine. So many of them have been so disappointing that I’m at the point that if the front or back label uses adjectives or descriptions like reserve, old vine, or artisan, I figure the marketing department is compensating for quality (given that federal regulations for using terms like these is vague, at best).
So I expected absolutely nothing from the Ravenswood ($10, sample, widely available); that’s why it sat in the wine closet for 13 months. Shows how much I know, other than to reiterate the No. 1 rule of wine reviewing: Don’t judge the wine until you taste it.
This red is surprising in many ways, not the least of which is that it held up for a year. There is lots of sweet berry fruit in the modern zinfandel style, but it’s not unpleasant and it’s balanced by some some traditional zinfandel character (particularly pepper). It’s a nice value for $10.
Don’t worry too much if the wine you find is the current vintage and not this one. One of the good things about grocery store wines is that they are consistent in taste and style from year to year.