As will be obvious shortly, I know nothing about wine. But I make a
point of drinking 5 oz. of French Paradox red wine every day, just
in case. Up to now I've been buying either Cabernet or Merlot in
the 5-liter box from Almaden. (By the way, in searching the 7000
articles in this newsgroup on my server, not a single Subject
contains the word "Almaden". Why is that?)
Anyway, I've noticed that Almaden also sells another red wine in a
box called Mountain Burgundy. On their website, Almaden is careful
to make clear that this is not a varietal, but they give no hint as
to what varieties it might include in the blend. Does anybody here
know, or have an educated guess based on the taste? I assume Pinot
Noir would be way too much to hope for, but is it possible to say
anything about it other than it's genuine red wine? Also, what
might it taste like, compared to the two varietals I've been
It occurs to me now that in this newsgroup *I* may be the foremost
authority on Almaden box wines. But if there's anyone here who will
admit to having drunk them, and can shed any light on the Burgundy,
I would appreciate your opinions.
I was advised in early 2003 by my doctor to drink a glass of red wine daily.
When I first started, I knew nothing about wines, and the typical wines I
picked up at the grocery store did not taste good at all to me. In June of
that year, my wife and I vacationed in the wine growing reigion of Virginia,
and toured several wineries. I began to learn more about finding wines that
I liked better. Taste is a very individual thing in wines.
Because of a significant loss of income, the boxed wines began to be used.
There are some companies producing better quality wines in boxes (Black Box
and Hardy's come to mind - in 3 liter boxes). In our area, they typically
sell for about $16 per box (3 liters equals four 750 ml standard wine
I'm not an "authority" on Almaden, but: Almaden (and Franzia) are two US
producers of low priced bulk wine, usually sold in 5 liter boxes. I think
that my wife and I tried the Burgundy once, but I can't find it in my notes
(Excel spreadsheet of all wines purchased and drunk, and our relative
satisfaction). We bought one box of the Cabernet, in October, 2003. It is
one of the only wines I have ever just poured out - even though it was low
priced, we didn't like the taste. That in no way means that you won't like
the taste. We do use three Almaden products: the "Mountain Rhine" white wine
is used for cooking; and the Red and White Sangria are used for low priced
quaffing with routine meals.
We have not tried their "Mountain Burgundy". We tend to buy the Cabernet
from Hardy's (also available in 750ml and 1.5l bottles), as it is a bit of a
step up in taste. We also buy some higher priced wines. Unless someone else
responds, your only method is to purchase one and see. I would expect that
it would be a similar wine to the Cab and Merlot which you have tried. One
reason that they do not publish information on percentage contents is that
this will vary - they purchase some of their wine on the market based
heavily on price sensitivity, so the box you buy this week may well have a
considerably different composition than the box you bought a few months ago.
This is a worldwide international newsgroup, with contributors ranging from
those who have a very high income to those who live on much less. Most of
the reviews found will be on wines which range from (US prices) $10 to $150
per 750ml bottle, although there are exceptions in both directions. Now, the
reason that people will spend hundreds of dollars on one bottle of wine are
not just because they can afford to do so - but are related to a perceived
difference in the quality of the product. More expensive wines have a higher
complexity to their taste. Also, there is a very considerable interaction
between the taste of a wine and food which is eaten at the time.
I would encourage you to visit a wine store near your home that carries some
of the better wines, try some of the better ones within whatever price range
you are willing to spend, and see if the difference in taste justifies the
difference in cost to you. Ultimately, your own taste buds are the judge.
Many people get "into" wines, some to excess (and I am not just talking
about becoming an alcoholic, but there are those who cannot be satisfied
with another person having a different opinion). Admittedly, it is usually
easier if you live in a metropolitan area to find a good variety (we moved
from a city of over 200,000 last fall to a town within a county of 30,000).
Enjoy - for whatever reason (you mention the French Paradox, which leads me
to believ that you have begun out of a desire to maintain better health) you
have started a journey which can result in considerable enjoyment.
In article , firstname.lastname@example.org
I very much appreciate your taking the time to reply to my
post. I think I'm pretty much at the same place you started
at - one glass of red wine per day because the doc likes
what it does for my cholesterol. But I'm afraid that in
my case 20 years of heavy smoking curtailed my ability to
make the fine taste distinctions that might lead to my being
a true wine fanatic. I've tried a number of red wines over
the years, and could hardly taste any difference among them.
So I figured that spending the extra money for good wines
wouldn't be useful in my case. And I too have had a very
significant reduction in income, so I have to stick with the
The Almaden boxed Merlot and Cabernet taste the same to me
(not very good), but the Cabernet has more of an astringent
after-effect. I was afraid the Mountain Burgundy, being
even cheaper, might be even worse than the other two, but,
you know, for $9 I'll just go ahead and give it a try.
Thanks again for your response.
The Mountian Burgundy is a melange of different grapes blended
from low-end vineyards etc. There is a little bit of everything in
these kinds of wines and they are blended to be a bit lighter, sweeter
and less tannic or astringent than the Cab or Merlot. Something to
consider, IMO, drinking these wines for health reasons may be counter
productive since many of the agents that may be linked to better health
are in short supply in these kinds of wines. Large bulk wines tend to
be stripped of much of their "healthy" components in order to make them
taste better to the average American consumer. Additionally, these
wines are made in factories that look more like chemical plants than
places where anything healthy could be made. The addition of chemical
additives to these wines to add the flavor components that make them
inexpensive yet palatable is also a question that I have about these
wines. You might want to check with your local wine store to find a
wine that fits your budget yet is made in a more traditional way if
you're looking for any health benefits at all.
I can throw in my 2 cents comment, FWIW. But keep in mind that it
will be biased, as I don't share much of the cola-raised American
public's tastes in cheap wine.
My experience with cheap wines in the US is, that mostly all
American ones (both North and South) are too sweet for my tastes. The
boxed invariably so, and most of the bottled ones too. The only passable
bulk wine (which is at the lower limit of my acceptance level) is the
Carlo Rossi Paisano (4 liter jug). It is still too sweet, but has a nice
sour component, which makes it drinkable together with food. (The boxed
Hardee that was mentioned earlier, is too sweet too, even though
What works best for me is cheap European wine, if you can find it.
Right now I have a batch of French Shiraz, "Les Etoiles", Vin de pays de
L'Aude, bought for $10/3 bottles, or $3.33 each. It has no abominable
sweetness, exhibits a nice tartness and astringency that cuts through
the food, and is ultimately quaffable. For the same price, the "Avia"
brand (Merlot, Cab and Pinot Noir) works well, with a caveat. The
vintages up to and including 2002 were made in Slovenia, and have all
the proper qualities, while the 2003 vintage is made in Chile, and while
still passable, exhibits the dread sweet aftertaste.
Other cheap wines worth trying to see if they work for you, are the
Chilean "Walnut Crest" and "Concha y Toro". To get the best bang for the
buck, buy the magnum (double, 1.5 liter) bottles.
The Australian Yellowtails are OK for quaffing, but too expensive
to be called cheap.
Finally, I personally would not recommend any cheap non-bulk
California wines, as they are generally too sweet, and worse than the
similarly priced Chileans.
Hope that helps. Cheers,
And why were you pissed off, may I ask? And where did you see
politics? I don't think there is anything untrue or insulting in my
statement. Isn't it true that Americans were cola-raised? Isn't that the
reason for the obvious American preference for sweet drinks? And
finally, what's wrong with that? It is a preference shared by various
people around the world.
Maybe my phrasing above was clumsy. I should have said "But keep in
mind that it will be biased, because that section of the cola-raised
American public that buys cheap wine, has preferences I don't share."
Not at all true, and you are stereotyping to a very insulting degree.
I do not know your ethnicity; if you are Russian, did you suckle
Vodka from your mother's breast? Do you see the parallel?
Try treating all of the people here as being as intelligent as you wish you
might be, and as articulate as you imagine you are. And assume
they are all as unbiased and cultured as you picture yourself. And
then assume they are far less culturally biased than you are. Then
address the audience as, if not equals, as superiors. Your comments
as they stand are insulting and obnoxious. Make amends now.
I read your comments and didn't find them offensive, but like any
cultural stereotype they are at best crude generalizations. As an
example, I offer myself. I am an American, born and raised, and a
member of the much-derided "baby boom" generation:
I have never drunk a Cola (Coke or Pepsi or RC, etc.)
I have never eaten any food from McDonalds or Burger King
I went 10 years of my adult life without owning a television
I haven't eaten a hot dog since I was 4-5 years old
I don't have a sweet tooth
It is important to recognize that in any society there will be a fair
number of outliers who defy any stereotype we can devise.
Regarding your original point, I am a bit bemused by the "sweetness" you
note in the wines of the US, Oz and Chile. I think that you are
probably reacting to the lower acids and greater fruitiness of these
wines, a result of the hotter climates in which the grapes are grown.
Few of them are truly sweet, if we judge sweetness by sugar content.
What I found most perplexing is your approval of the Yellowtail wines,
which _do_ have residual sugar and are most definitely sweet to my
taste. De gustibus non disputandum est...
For what it's worth, speaking as a cola-raised American, I'm not offended by
the original post. But I'm not very thin-skinned either.
Getting back to the subject, wine for health, I would recommend visiting
Trader Joe's if you have one locally. The Charles Shaw "2-buck Chuck" is
something of a joke among serious wine drinkers but there's really nothing
wrong with it. Certainly it's much better than the over-sweet grocery boxed
wines. I share Bill's apprehension about its dubious health qualities. For
$2/bottle ($3 outside California) you really can't go wrong with the Shaw.
I would purchase a bottle of each red they sell, try them and then come back
for a case of whichever you prefer, if any. They carry many other
lower-priced quality wines as well.
Thanks. I never intended to be offensive, you know.
Oh yes, you are absolutely right. But stereotypes (if they are not
wrong or biased) have their value too, in portraying averages.
You are right, I don't think any of these wines are truly sweet
(with residual sugar). You might have a point about the lower acidity,
which I interpret as sweetness.
About the Yellowtail - I had not had any for a long time, maybe
about a year. After reading your message, I popped a Shiraz this
evening, and by Jove, you are right! It is sweet (as in has sugar), but
does not feel that way in aftertaste. I personally experience a very
refreshing bitter note, which eliminates the sweetness. (I should start
keeping notes about these things). Now I remember why I liked Yellowtail
Shiraz to begin with - because it resembles Kadarka, which can be bitter
and sweet at the same time, too.
Stereotyping, yes. Guilty as charged. However, what's wrong with
this particular stereotype? It is not something to be ashamed of. I
really can't understand you guys - this cola thing seems to be a chip on
your shoulder. Even if the "cola-raised" bit were wrong (which it isn't,
here I disagree with you), the Americans' sweet tooth is undeniable. And
that's the only point I was making.
I can see that you don't see the parallel. Saying that Americans
are cola-raised is not much different from saying that French are raised
on baguettes and camembert, or saying that Italians are raised on pasta,
or saying that Swiss are raised on cheese and chocolate. Neither might
be true for particular individuals from these nationalities, but these
are valid, non-insulting generalizations nonetheless. Plus, cola is one
of the most important American contributions to the world at large;
nothing to be offended about.
There is nothing broken for me to amend. It is unfortunate that
you feel offended by what I wrote, as I did not intend it to be
offending; accept my apologies for your hurt feelings. However, I still
insist that you should not have been offended to begin with, as there
was nothing untrue or insulting in what I wrote.
Calm down. If someone with a name like John Frankenheimer III had said that,
you'd probably not have twitched.
Look at the quantities of cola (and other sweet carbonated drinks) drunk in
the States. Look at the quantities of sweet iced tea drunk. Cola raised is a
pretty good definition of the drinking habits of the typical American.
Now consider the sales of dreadful wine. I don't know if the two are
related, on the other hand, as I'd guess the same proportion of muck is
drunk here in France. If there WERE something to be jibbed at, it might be
the assumption of a link.
No, Pavane, looking at it from my perspective, you and Bill indulged in a
knee-jerk reaction to a Russian sounding name that would have been more
appropriate to 1985 than 2005. Though I doubt either of you will admit it.
Knee jerk assumptions. How do you know he hasn't been over here since the
Tsk. and I thought we were a little more adult than that.
In article ,
I'm in Oklahoma, and don't recall seeing a Trader Joe's or
anything like 2-buck Chuck.
Moreover, my experience with wine in a bottle is that with
one person drinking one 5-oz glass a day, those last few
glasses don't taste very good. That's why I was interested
in bag/box wine, which doesn't have that problem.
Someone needs to invent a "bagging" system for transferring
wine from a bottle into a bag.
There is the vacuum pump, which works somewhat depending on whom you ask.
Myself, I find it helps keep wine for a few days but not much longer. In
any case, I find that I don't mind pouring out half a bottle of Charles Shaw
and just opening another if I need to. At $38 per case it's not a big deal.
If you have Costco, they now carry a "premium" boxed wine. I picked up a
Chardonnay to give it a try. It was about $18 for the 3-litre box. I found
it to be equivalent to any $10 bottle. They carry a Shiraz too. I can't
recall the name, but it was Aussie.
There was a time past when a lot of country homes would have an
earthenware jug of two or three gallon capacity with a spout at
the bottom. It was filled with wine and a light layer of olive oil
floated on top. The oil kept the air out and the wine stayed fresh.
I can certainly agree on the Hardys. The Shiraz is a regular in our house.
There are also the Black Box wines from California. Haven't tried them yet
because the price ($20+) seems a little high for a box wine. Regardless,
there are several box wines that are better (IMHO) than Almaden or Franzia.