Newb question about box wine

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
drinking?
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.
Reply to
George
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 bottles).
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.
Jim
Reply to
BallroomDancer
In article , snipped-for-privacy@def.ghi says...
Jim,
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 inexpensive stuff.
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.
George
Reply to
George
George, 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.
Reply to
Bi!!
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 Australian). 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, Elko
Reply to
Elko Tchernev
Great way to start a post. You just pissed off this cola-raised American. Go somewhere elese to show your politics please. Bill
Reply to
Bill Loftin
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."
Reply to
Elko Tchernev
Salut/Hi Elko Tchernev,
-
Don't worry about Bill, he's very sensitive to what he sees as criticism of America.
(Aintcha Bill ;-)))
Reply to
Ian Hoare
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.
pavane
Reply to
pavane
Elko, 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...
Mark Lipton
Reply to
Mark Lipton
"pavane" wrote
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.
GS.
Reply to
Greg Sumner
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.
Reply to
Elko Tchernev
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.
Reply to
Elko Tchernev
Salut/Hi pavane,
-
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 1914?
Tsk. and I thought we were a little more adult than that.
Reply to
Ian Hoare
In article , snipped-for-privacy@Signature.com says...
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.
Reply to
George
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.
GS.
Reply to
Greg Sumner
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.
Reply to
Bill Loftin
(snip)
One Aus. wine in 3 liter boxes is Hardy's. I don't like their Chard, but the Shiraz and the Cab Sauv. are both good (for the price). They are considerably better than Almaden. Jim
Reply to
BallroomDancer
Hi Jim, 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. Dick R.
Reply to
Dick R.

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