Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. This wine now costs as much as $15 a bottle. Which, as much as I like it and as much as I respect the producer, Lodi’s Peirano Estate, is a lot of money for what it is.
Fortunately, The Other (purchased, widely available) can still be found for as little as $10. When that’s the case, it’s the kind of wine that makes writing abut cheap wine such a pleasure. This vintage is a blend of moslty cabernet sauvignon and merlot, with 10 percent syrah, and is fruitier than usual (cherry). But it has enough acid and tannins for balance, as well as just 13.8 percent alcohol. The difference in alcohol between this and 14.5 percent wine, over the course of a bottle, is not only noticeable, but enjoyable — a weeknight dinner without getting buzzed.
Note, too, that the cherry is real fruit, not the fake, candied kind that is the current style as winemakers try to give the impression of sweetness in dry wine.
It does seem a little thin in the back, but that may be a function of age. Three years is a long time for this kind of wine to last. But The Other remains one of the best California-style red blends available, and has never disappointed me. Serve this with any casual red meat dinner.