Jeff’s Corner 7-16-21

Hello, Hello,

And here we go with our new 2020 Grand Rouge. One of the longest-tenured Texas wines, it was created by our founder Ned Simes in the mid-1990s. Over time, Grand Rouge has evolved into one of our best-selling wines with a huge, extremely loyal entourage.

So, what has led to this enormous, cultic following of our Grand Rouge (or Grande Rogue, as it’s often referred to)? First, it’s a semi-sweet red in a world of sweet wines dominated by whites, blushes, and rosés. Second, it’s served chilled (I recommend 45-50 degrees), and many of us like their beverages cold.

Also, it’s aged in stainless steel and never sees the inside of an oak barrel. This gives the wine a bright, clean finish that really allows the fruit flavors of the grapes to show their stuff. Finally, Grand Rouge is a gateway wine for people whose palate is transitioning from sweets to dry whites and reds, and here begins one of my biggest pet peeves: wine snobbery.

I like off-dry wines. Granted I don’t drink them a lot, but I enjoy and appreciate them for what they are, which is typically a whole lot of fun. Unfortunately, when palates evolve beyond them, folks start to think of sweet wine as the pariah of the wine world. Once I started listening to the Grateful Dead, I thought I was way too hip for the Jackson Five, even though the Jackson Five were pretty darn good.

A lovely light ruby/garnet, the ’20 Grand Rouge is a blend of 53% Tempranillo and 43% Merlot with an ABV of 13.4%. (This is the first time in many years that it has not been predominately Sangiovese.) Light-bodied and unpretentious, the residual sugar is 3.4% which is 34 grams per liter of wine.

Fruity, floral, and fresh, straightforward aromas of red raspberry, cranberry, Bing cherry, and blueberry are supported by hints of lilacs, violets, and red carnations. The palate is playful and direct, showing great harmony between sugar, fruit, and acid. It goes down the hatch kind of like Grapette, one of my favorite sodas when I was kid.

Grand Rouge pairs well with spicy food, and last night I was thinking how great it would be with a cajun shrimp and crab boil. Traditional ingredients would include fresh sweet corn, red potatoes, onion, shrimp, blue or stone crab claws, and crawfish, but it’s your choice.

Personally, I prefer Zatarain’s liquid shrimp and crab boil to the dry seasonings in a bag. It’s much more pungent and aromatic, and I like to use a lot more than the suggested amount.

Next week, we’ll check out everyone’s darling, our new Bellissimo. See ya then…