One of the Wine Curmudgeon's well-known annoyances with the wine business is that so much of its reason for being revolves around the idea that wine can only be enjoyed for special occasions. That we can drink wine every day, and not just on anniversaries or New Year's or birthdays, is lost in the hype about scores and prices and delicate aromas of forest floor.
That's why I was quite pleased to see the latest promotion for Turning Leaf, the grocery store brand owned by Gallo. The company's New York public relations firm offered to send me a takeout lunch from a Dallas restaurant, along with assorted Turning Leaf wines, so I could see how well the wines went with casual food. More, after the jump:
The answer was quite well (though the PR firm's logistical arrangements left quite a bit to be desired). I've written about Turning Leaf off and on over the years, and have always found that the wines deliver exactly what they promise. They're competent and professionally made, and if they aren't up to the level of my favorite cheap wines, you can do a whole lot worse.
And for this kind of meal -- we had takeout barbecue and Tex-Mex -- the difference is even less important. Wine, is after all, a social event, and not a competition. I shared the lunch with several of the staff at Advocate Magazines in Dallas, where I do a monthly wine column. Most of them are typical American wine drinkers -- maybe three or four times a month, and mostly not at home. In other words, the kind of people who don't drink more wine because they're intimidated by it.
We tasted the pinot grigio ($7, sample) and merlot ($7, sample), and there were no complaints. The pinot grigio, though a little thin, didn't have any of the off flavors (the dreaded turpentine!) common in inexpensive pinot grigio. The merlot was as well done as most California $10 merlots, with lots of fruit and medium tannins. The Advocate's Brian Beavers, who regularly spars with me about wine, was much more impressed with it than he thought he would be.
Would I buy Turning Leaf to for a special occasion? Nope. But that's not the point, is it