My friend The Big Guy is very demanding about his wine. If he can't drink expensive white Burgundy, he prefers $10 red Bordeaux, and he wants to try as many different $10 red Bordeauxs as possible. Which, given our location in the middle of the country, is not always easy -- most of the retailers here have a limited selection, and this makes him cranky.
The Romains ($10, purchased) is the kind of red Bordeaux that The Big Guy would appreciate. It's a simple, sturdy, red blend with a fair amount of tannins, some red fruit, and just 13 percent alcohol, but not much else. This is the kind of wine to have for dinner in the middle of the week when all you want to do is to open something without fretting about pairings or the quality of what you're opening, and it would probably go with almost anything that doesn't have a cream sauce.
In this, the Romains seems to be descended from the red Bordeauxs of my beginning wine days, which choked you with their rough tannins and unripe fruit and made you wonder if wine was really such a good idea after all. It doesn't have those, of course, and is much better made than those wines from 20 and 30 years ago. But there is something about it that reminds me of the old days, and no doubt The Big Guy will notice it, too.
One wine geek note, since that seems to be the theme in recent wine reviews: The Romains' appellation is Bordeaux Superieur, which is different from plain old Bordeaux. In the old days, wines from Bordeaux Superieur were higher in alcohol (hence the superieur), and there are still several other production requirements differentiating it from regular Bordeaux. But in terms of quality and cost, it's not appreciably different from Bordeaux, especially for this kind of wine.