Taste Test: Wines of the Week

What’ve you been drinking this week?

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After months of nothing but beer (delicious stouts and IPAs, mostly), I finally started craving wine. On Tuesday night, I wanted a nice dry rosé, so I splurged on a French one for $16.99 at Food Lion on the way home from work. It wasn’t too sweet and oddly helped to settle my stomach. Just one glass and I was satisfied, with some saved for later.

That’s one reason why I don’t drink wine often. It’s impossible for me to finish a bottle on my own, and it can even be difficult when my husband is helping. Then, there’s the question of whether it will be palatable the next day. Some wines, like the Rioja pictured above, just don’t keep well. It got too bitter or acidic or whatever chemical composition happens to stale wine, and I had to throw out the last glass.

The rosé, however, was fine the next day, and the Toasted Head merlot was actually much better the day after. I’m actually falling in love with the Toasted Head brand, especially the merlot and the chardonnay. There was a time I wouldn’t drink anything darker than a cabernet sauvignon, but I picked up the merlot on a day I wanted to make mulled wine over Christmas break. I tried it on its own first, and the mulled wine never got made — at least, not that day.

Toasted Head’s chardonnay is oaky and buttery — exactly how I want a chardonnay to be. It’s getting harder to distinguish when I’ll like a chardonnay just going by the tasting notes on the bottle. Apricots and apples? Maybe that means it’s unoaked. But I appreciate when a winery comes out and says whether it’s oaked or unoaked, and Toasted Head’s schtick is that their wines are barrel aged, so that ends the battle for me right there.

I love a good Spanish or South American red, so when I saw the Rioja on sale for $12, it somehow magically got transported into my basket. The gold netting was cool to look at but getting it off was a bit of an ordeal, plus I had to cut it all apart to save the seagulls. The flavor was much lighter than the merlot, of course, and it had some depth and character that really dark reds tend to lack. I thought I could taste some kind of wood — oak? — but I’m glad I got it on special because I’ve had better Spanish reds before.

Not pictured is the disappointing chardonnay I picked up at random from Harris Teeter. Chateau Souverain, California, 2014. “…soft tropical notes, layered with flavors of caramel and toasted oak.” Did it taste like oak? No. I’ll stick with my Toasted Head.

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