Looking at the menu in Ruby Tuesday I was struck with just how many different flavours you’d get on your plate. For instance, take their new Chicken Florentine:
An all-natural grilled chicken breast in a blanket of creamy spinach and artichoke sauce, topped with shredded Parmesan cheese. Served with white cheddar mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas.
The chef didn’t stop at grilled chicken breast with mashed potatoes; that was just his start. It was not enough to top it with shredded Parmesan cheese, but he had to add white cheddar cheese to the mashed potatoes. Then there’s the spinach and artichoke sauce.
Then we turn to their wine list and see that there are 22 wines by the bottle and all except two are single varietals.
Why are we so keen to drink wine tasting of just one variety when our meals are a mélange of flavours?
Some old world wines are traditionally blends of different varieties – including Bordeaux, Chateauneuf du Pape, Rhone and Chianti red wines.
Different varieties have different taste profiles and by blending them the winemaker can produce a wine greater than the sum of the individual components – a concept that anyone who cooks food instinctively understands.
Many consumers are puzzled when confronted with a blend because they are used to looking for a variety name on the front label but now more are willing to experiment and try new experiences.
Apothic Red ‘Winemaker’s Blend’ is one such new, very American, blend. You will not find this blend in the old world as it comprises roughly equal parts of Syrah, Zinfandel and Merlot.
Apothic Red ‘Winemaker’s Blend’ 2008 has a beautiful black red colour in the glass where it has a powerful smell of vanilla and the immediate impression on tasting is of vanilla – ‘like vanilla ice-cream’ remarked one taster. It tastes ripe, full bodied and creamy in the mouth with a distinct sweetness. It is very easy to drink and if I ordered it by the glass in a bar I’d be very happy, but we found it was too sweet and jammy to make a good food match. I think this wine will be popular with drinkers who are new to red wines – I am often asked to recommend red wines that are ‘smooth’ and not ‘sharp’, and Apothic Red fits the bill.
Apothic Red California ‘Winemaker’s Blend’ 2008. 13.1% alcohol by volume. Winemakers are Marcello Monticello and Boyd Morrison. Retails for around $14 available nationally in USA, (but it’s not currently on Ruby Tuesday’s wine list). www.apothic.com
Note: The author thanks the producers of Apothic Red California ‘Winemaker’s Blend’ 2008 for the sample bottle that they sent him for the purposes of this review.
Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.