I have written more than 200 wines of the week over the last four years, and none has been a bigger surprise than this. Cellar No. 8 wines are about as ordinary as possible, the kind that defines grocery store wine. The reds all seem to taste the same, regardless of the varietal – lots of sweet fruit, some fake oak, and the kind of tannins that are there only if you pay careful attention.
And then there is the Eight ($10, sample), which is a stunner. This red blend, made with the usual suspects, is grocery store wine the way it should be. It has legitimate tannins and balanced acid and just enough red fruit – no cherry bomb here — to round everything out. Yes, it’s simple, but it’s clean and professional, and that’s what you want in a simple $10 wine (which is probably closer to $8 in many locations). Drink this slighlty chilled on its own or with barbecue and burgers, especially for Father’s Day.
Given this brand’s track record, I almost didn’t taste it. But I’m nothing if not stubborn, so I figured I’d have a glass and use the rest of the bottle for cooking. Stupid me. What’s the most important lesson in the wine reviewing? Taste the wine before you judge it.
Click to sign up for the Advocate’s weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.