Cheap Wine Review: Lucky Duck Tempranillo
One advantage of being primal is that you’re allowed to drink alcohol. Some of my stricter paleo brothers and sisters deprive themselves of this pleasure, but although I see the advantages of tea-totalling, to me it isn’t worth the cost.
Wine – specifically red wine – is at the very top of the “alcohol can be beneficial” list. And as much as I’d like to be a $10-$20 bottle of wine guy with an occasional $50-$100 bottle for special occasions, I have kids. So I’ve become a $2-$6 bottle of wine guy with an occasional $10-$20 bottle for special occasions. C’est la vie.
The stunner here is that as the years have gone on, I’ve found some absolutely impressive values for $6 or less. It used to be that wines in this price range were astringent and bitter, but now there are some truly fantastic buys out there for that price that won’t make you feel like you have to choke them down. I intend to review these here as I come across them. Tonight, I’m starting with a wine from that bastion of Oenophilia, Wal-Mart. I’ll start with a selection from their signature exclusive vintner’s collection, known as Lucky Duck.
I was confronted with an impressive array of choices from the Lucky Duck brand. I’d had very good luck with their Riesling in the past, which tastes a great deal like the Barton & Guestier Vouvray for less than half the price, and pairs remarkably well with spicy thai food or curries. The entire Lucky Duck lineup comes in at $3.97 a bottle, so it’s well within the acceptable price range. There’s a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, an Argentinian Malbec, Southeast Australian Shiraz, and a Spanish Tempranillo. Lately, I’ve developed a weak spot for Tempranillos, so I reached for that one.
I have a glass in front of me as I type, and the bottle has been open for a little less than an hour. I’m no sommelier, but I know what I like, so here are my tasting notes. I may be using the words all wrong, but you probably don’t know what I’m talking about either!
When I stick my nose in the glass, I smell wine. Shocker, right? But I do pick up the red fruit notes and a bit of a grassy scent. This wine has nice tannins, and some decent structure. It tastes a little young (I didn’t see a vintage on the bottle) but not too young. It has some of that young wine tartness about it that can be either a good or a bad thing depending on where it falls.
The flavors are of bright, red fruit. Most of all, I taste ripe cherries. There’s some spice on the finish that I like – I’m a fan of big, bold wines that grab you by the tongue and whip your head around. This isn’t big like a Sonoma Cabernet (and I’ve had some Tempranillos that I think are there) but it’s got some kick.
I’m not sure what this would pair with since I’m just drinking it by itself it for the sheer taste of it, but I’m guessing it would be amazing with some sheep’s milk cheese. The Spanish might pair this with a Manchego, but personally I’d go for a Pecorino Toscano and some Italian Salami – probably a Sopressata.
Since I’m already talking about food and not what’s wrong with it, you may have already guessed that I like this wine. I think it’s a fantastic bargain for under $4. I’ve tried several Tempranillos lately in this price range (from Trader Joe’s and Aldi, my go-to cheap wine sttores) and I think I’d put this at the top of my list. If you like Tempranillo, definitely give it a try.