Wine Recommendation: Bear Flag Smooth Red Blend

I’m Feeling a Little Dizzy.

No, not from drinking too much wine, but from staring too closely at the label for Bear Flag Smooth Red Blend.




Fun, yes?  This wine is a blend of four grapes:  Tempranillo, Touriga, Zinfandel, and Alicante Bouschet.  While I’m familiar with the Spanish Tempranillo grape and the American Zinfandel (ok, I know that the Zinfandel grape is genetically identical to a Croatian grape, I just like thinking that there is a wine grape indigenous to the United States), I haven’t heard of Touriga or Alicante Bouschet before.  Touriga, I learned, has origins from Portugal and if often used in making Port.  It’s known for concentrated flavors of black fruit.  Alicante Bouschet is a French grape first cultivated in the mid-nineteen century.  It was widely grown in California during prohibition since its deep red color allowed for wine to be diluted without much loss in appearance.

Bear Flag Smooth Red Blend was sweeter tasting than I thought it would be given its deep color (the Alicante Bouschet perhaps?), but not unpleasantly so.  Like the name suggests, it is very smooth and very drinkable.  I tasted hints of fruits and spice, specifically cloves on the finish.  I absolutely love the taste and smell of cloves.  In grade school we used to ride our bikes down to “the sucker lady’s” house.  She had a Dutch door from her kitchen to the front garden patio, and when you knocked she would swing open the top half of the door and hold out a large metal baking pan filled with homemade lollipops in all kinds of shapes.  The combination of the color of the candy and the color of the ribbon that tied the little protective plastic baggie determined the candy’s flavor.  The eagle was the largest by volume – very important to a seven-year old with a quarter burning in the pocket of her Toughskins – but the sucker shaped like a hand in a closed-fingered royal wave was the most prized shape of all.  It was a large lollipop and fit perfectly in your mouth.  A clove-flavored hand sucker was always my favorite.  But I digress.

The Bear Flag web site lists the following tasting notes:

California table wine.  Soft and juicy.  Yummers.

That description makes me smile.  Wine doesn’t have to be overly serious or unapproachable.  From the wild and detailed label designed by Argentinian born artist, Eduardo Bertone, to its easy drinkability, I like this wine.  It’s fun.

The regular price at my grocery store for this wine was $9.99.  However it was on sale for $6.99 and since I made a mixed six-bottle purchase, I received another 10% off.  At $6.29 a bottle, I’ll go back to the store this week and pick up a few more to have on hand for the summer.   Assuming the sun ever makes an appearance here in Seattle, this wine would be great chilled as a warm evening beverage.  While I normally prefer red wines on the dry side, I think this wine would pair really nicely with a tangy barbecue sauce or a spicy Tex-Mex menu.

Bear Flag also offers a white wine on the sweeter side, as well as two other wines – a red and a white, both on the dryer side.  I’ll keep an eye out for these other wines too.  Maybe they’ll be as suprisingly charming as the Smooth Red Blend.

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