At 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.
Both 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