There are two reasons why I’m writing about the Alicante. One is that it’s quality wine. The other is that I get to tell my Francis Ford Coppola wine story.

This is a very fruity, almost cranberry-ish red wine, dark in color and low in alcohol. It’s quite fun to drink, which is not a way I usually describe wine. In this case, fun means you pour a little, drink it, pour a little, chat, pour a little more, eat a bite, pour a little more. The next thing you know, the bottle is empty.

At $15 (available at World Market), it’s not as inexpensive as it could be, given that the grapes are from Lodi and that alicante, an Italian grape not much known in the U.S., is not exactly cabernet sauvignon. But it’s still a value, and would pair nicely with almost any holiday meal, as well as red sauces and pasta.

After the jump, my Coppola story:
Several years ago, I did a sparking wine story for the Fort Worth newspaper and mentioned Sofia, the sparkling wine that Coppola’s company produces. It’s named after his daughter, the actress and director. I wrote that I liked the wine, and found it to be much better made than Coppola’s $10 wines, which are very inconsistent in quality (and still are). I said that Sofia was like the Godfather movies, while the $10 wines were more like One From the Heart, a very odd and not well received musical that Coppola directed in 1982. Keep two things in mind: The Sofia got a favorable review, and the bit about the movies was just one line in the story.

After the story ran, I got a phone call from the wine company’s PR person (who is well respected in the business, but had to do what the client told her to do):

PR person: The Coppola people saw your article. Why did you write that about the Sofia?

Jeff: Write what? It was a favorable review.

PR person: That it was like the Godfather, and that the $10 wines were like One from the Heart.

Jeff: You’re kidding, right? It was a favorable review. Did they notice that?

PR person: They want me to ask you if you know anything about Coppola’s wines. Do you know they make expensive wines that get big scores? (She was referring to Coppola’s high-end winery, today called Rubicon Estate. Its flagship wine is your basic $100 Napa cabernet blend.)

Jeff: Yes, I know about those wines. I’m a wine writer.

PR person: Why didn’t you mention those? Why did you write about the $10 wines? They’re very unhappy.

Jeff: Let me get this straight. I write a favorable review about one of their wines, and they’re unhappy? Doesn’t that strike you as a bit odd?

PR person: [Silence].

Jeff: Well, you can tell them that if they get upset when I write a favorable review, they don’t have to worry about what I write any more. I just won’t write about Coppola’s wines. No sense in making them unhappy.

And I haven’t, until now. I hope this review was favorable enough for them.