Maker: Double Dog Dare Cellars, Ripon, California
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, artificial cork
Our Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Most wine drinkers might not be excited by a new $3 wine, but here at Box Wines we are always on the lookout for great wine values. Double Dog Dare Merlot (non-vintage) looked very promising – a $3.33 price tag, making it just about the least expensive bottle in the shop, and a marketing approach that ‘s a bit more clever than most of the low-end wines. The label shows a smiling canine leaping through a flaming hoop. The wine, unfortunately, was perhaps not bad for $3 but was not particularly good. The nose had licorice and spice elements. The flavor was dominated by the earthy plum notes that we associate with very low-end merlots and cabs, and there was a sharpness in the finish that breathing didn’t entirely cure.
Cute label, ultra-cheap price… it’s too bad that Double Dog Dare Merlot didn’t quite measure up on the palate. For about the same price, we like Two Buck Chuck Merlot a bit more – it had better fruit and was not quite as harsh. Overall, we’d recommend stepping up a few bucks per bottle and getting a better Australian or California Merlot. A couple that come to mind are Bohemian Highway Merlot at about $6, Barefoot Merlot for $5, or the oaky Forest Glen Merlot that retails for about $9 but can periodically be found in the $5 range. If you do try Double Dog Dare Merlot, do give it plenty of air – we did notice improved balance and a slightly smoother finish after an hour or more of breathing.