By Bob Hosmon
City & Shore Magazine
In 1967 Neil Diamond recorded Red, Red Wine, a song extoling the virtues of drinking red wine as a way to forget one’s troubles. Who knew what grapes were used to make it — it just had to be “red.”
Fast forward to the 1970s and ’80s and a more educated, more sophisticated audience emerged that wanted to know more about what they were drinking — and winemakers obliged by naming their wines with the primary grape in the bottle. They might be great or just OK wines, but consumers at least knew what they were getting.
Now fast forward to this decade — and what goes around has come around. Several red wines — budget and high-priced — are not promoting the grapes in the bottle, at least not on the front label; but using proprietary names for their blended reds.
A classic example is the Paraduxx from Atlas Peak ($80), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Sangiovese. Pair this extraordinary red with wild game, prime rib or a rich Italian pasta and meat dish. If you opt for the Joseph Phelps Insignia ($200) – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot – the next time you fire up the grill, you’ll find this ethereal red pairs well with a T-bone or ribeye steak.
Other proprietary reds that deserve our attention include The Spur from Murrieta’s Well in Livermore Valley ($24). A blend of Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec, this user-friendly red delivers a smooth taste on the palate, accented by rich earthy flavors. Pair this unique wine with beef stew or chicken pot pie. The same foods will complement the Kendall-Jackson Avant Red ($18), a user-friendly, palate-pleasing red that’s a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Malbec, Petite Sirah and Carignan.
If you’re dining on pizza, burgers or lasagna, make it a special meal with the Kuleto Estate Native Son ($36) from Napa County. A blend of six grapes, the primary ingredients are Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. And Our Daily Red ($10), one of the most affordable proprietary wines out there, is produced from organic grapes, primarily Zinfandel, and is the perfect choice for casual meals that feature burgers, lasagna or pizza.