Simple, fruity red blends from California are not what they once were. This is upsetting, because I appreciate simple and fruity wines quite a bit. Not every occasion requires a bottle of Chateau Le Snooty. But prices have gone up or quality has gone down, or both, in the last couple of years.
The Mambo (about $13, available at Whole Foods), though, has remained consistently satisfying. It’s a six-grape blend (no cabernet sauvignon or merlot, thankfully) that offers dark fruit and medium tannins. Serve it with Italian food, hamburgers or anything else that requires a simple, fruity wine.
• I heartily recommend a new book called The Wine Trials, and not just because I had a tiny, little part in it. The book, the brainchild of wine drinker Robin Goldstein, argues that we drink expensive wine not because it’s better than cheap wine, but because we think it is. Goldstein held a series of blind tastings to test the theory, and it seemed to hold up. The book’s highlight? A list of 100 quality wines for $15 or less, most of which are good values. (And I have had about two-thirds of them, which is kind of scary.)
• Those of us wondering if we’re officially in a recession need look no further than this news release, for a Brazilian rum called Leblon Cachaca. The release isn’t on the web site, so I’ll quote: "What’s the cocktail of the 2008 recession? Many are pointing to the Caipirinha, the Brazilian national cocktail made with Cachaca, Brazil’s national spirit. After all, who knows how to muddle through an economic crisis better than the Brazilians?" Glad we have that settled.