A Fruit Wine You Can Proudly Serve Your In-Laws

Twin Pomegranates Sparkling WineAt the office, we are nothing if not dedicated cooks. Holiday celebrations are an excuse for everyone to demonstrate their flair for kitchen artistry while getting the opportunity to nosh on a multitude of culinary delights. For our Thanksgiving feast, while most of us brought potluck dishes, I provided a few bottles of pomegranate wine as a “liquid cranberry sauce.” At least, that’s how I deemed it. It was more an excuse to serve alcohol in lieu of cooking.

The wines were part of a sample pack sent to me by Twin Pomegranates, a Pomegranate winemaker based in Madera, California. They provided me with a flat pomegranate wine, a sparkling pomegranate wine, and a pomegranate-Chardonnay blend, all grown and produced in California. For the feast, I opted for the sparkling and flat pomegranate wines, saving the blend for another occasion. The goal here was to see how these wines would fare as a holiday wine pairing, an unconventional addition to Christmas or New Years. Something a bit fruitier just strikes me as being festive.

The Wines

Twin Pomegranate Sparkling Wine PourBoth wines had a similar color: a dark brick-red and orange blend, turning a deep golden orange at the edge. Their translucency, like the last pomegranate wine I reviewed, is impeccable. The color, while unusual for a grape wine, is indicative of purity in a non-vinifera wine. Ever seen fresh juice pressed from a strawberry? It will have the exact same earthy gradient of color as the wines to the right.

The nose is not the best quality of these wines. Both have a slightly sour, lightly pungent pomegranate scent, not exactly off-putting but not as enticing as they could be either. It smells a bit dusty, dry, but the fruit scent you get is pure pomegranate. No alcohol heat, no imbalance is detectable in the nose.

The flavor of both wines is startlingly dry and crisp. With only 3% residual sugar, they offer a delightfully active texture, nothing too flabby or cloying. The alcohol (13.3% in the sparkling, 13.4% in the flat) provides an intense backbone  without adding even a hint of alcohol flavor. The flavor begins a little bit seedy, owing to the intense acidity and lack of sugar. Once the initial shock to the palate wears off, the flavor fades into a very cool, very pure pomegranate flavor that rides out a decent finish. The sparkling wine adds an extra powdery, bacterial dimension to the flavor, a complexity standard with sparkling wines.

As for pairing, this wine paired with a variety of dishes, with two caveats. Don’t pair it with very salty dishes, as the flavor gets overwhelmed and the alcohol becomes the primary flavor. Also, because of its lack of sugar and its delicate flavor, it handles spice very poorly. It’ll do quite nicely for your Christmas dinner, at least unless you plan on having a rib-eye. Turkey and chicken are immaculate pairings with this wine; ham handles the wine pretty well, but it’s better to go with a sweeter cure than a saltier one. Beef and pork will chainsaw right through this wine, so avoid pairing with those.

Both wines are prime examples of fruit wine. The sparkling was preferred over the flat wine, if only because of the added complexity that bubbly provides. The flat wine continued to drink well over the next 2 days, losing very little in the way of flavor even 48 hours later. The sparkling wine, properly stoppered, is good for about 24 hours. After that, it starts to lose its vibrancy.

So, for the record, both the sparkling and the flat wines are around $10, making them delightful bargains at their price point. 6/10 for the flat, 7/10 for the sparkling. Drink and be merry.

note: these wines were samples provided by the maker with the intent to review

Music Monday: Inappropriate for a Football Tailgate

Every Monday, I’m bringing you what I sipped on over the weekend as well as what I listened to to enhance the experience.

The Music

While this album is not one that will make you run through a brick wall, it’s still recently become part of my pre-game football ritual. Perhaps because it hearkens back to my first years in college, when I really became a college football fan, maybe because deep down I’m just a huge softy, whatever the reason, The Anniversary’s “All Things Ordinary” is a great example of the gentler music I listened to when I wanted to “rock out.”

The Wine

This weekend was much more an exercise in quantity, not quality, as we had a nice gathering of friends for the Virginia Tech football game. Thus, the goal here was to furnish enough for a group of widely varying tastes with as little expense as possible.

The solution? Trader Joe’s, obviously.

While the beer-friendly crowd sipped on New Belgium’s 2° Below (and… sigh… Bud Select), a fantastic and affordable winter ale from Colorado, those who had wine on the brain opted for a Rosé. Trader Joe’s has a fair selection of Rosés, mostly in their $4 to $6 value price range, and we opted for the 2008 La Ferme Julien Rosé for $5.

La Ferme Julien bottleAccording to Wine Harlots, La Ferme Julien is “the Trader Joe’s private label of the La Vieille Ferme that gets passing marks in the major wine publications.” That’s a good sign, especially considering some of Trader Joe’s bargain wines can be traced back to faceless, mass-produced California schlock vineyards.

So what of the wine? It had a very pure light red color, with a medium viscosity. The aroma was almost candy-like in nature, with sweet citrus, strawberries, and cherries. The flavor, though very dry, tasted a bit canned, stale, citrus-forward, just a touch of yogurt and lemon, and a strawberry candy finish. The acidity might be a touch high, lending it a tangy, thin texture, but other than that it had a decent balance. It drank well over the following day, maybe tasting a bit more stale, but still holding its flavor fairly well. I wouldn’t give it more than 24 hours, though.

If you’re looking to please the pink-drinkers in the crowd without spending a lot, I’d say you’d do okay with this one. 5/10

Wine: La Ferme Julien Rosé

Vintage: 2008

Producer: La Vieille Ferme

Region: Cotes du Ventoux, Rhone, France

Varietals: Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah

Alcohol: 13%

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