Maker: E&J Gallo Winery, Modesto, California
Varietal: None, Really
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, screw cap
Our Rating: 3 out of 10
Some train wrecks are avoidable, and so would our tasting Wild Vines Blackberry Merlot had we paid the least bit of attention before grabbing it off the shelf. The “Merlot” label did us in. Merlot, blackberries… sounds like a fruit-forward wine with a berry twist, right? Wrong. Had we checked the label, we would have found the real clues. The first indicator would have been the alcohol content on the front of the bottle: at 6%, this beverage is less than half the strength of a typical Merlot. Even more revealing would have been the ingredients list. (When was the last time you saw a real wine with an ingredients list?) The first ingredient is Merlot, which is immediately worrisome… and it’s downhill from there. The next ingredients are carbonated water, dextrose, and fructose… not items one would ever find in even the worst wines. What we have is a sort of wine cooler beverage, despite referring to itself as a “fine wine product”. If we have any excuse (other than not paying attention) for buying this product, it’s that it was in the wine section (not the wine cooler section) and it was under four dollars. We know our readers rely on us for cheap wine ideas, and are always willing to take a chance on something different.
If you read the ingredients before tasting, you won’t be surprised to find that Wild Vines Blackberry Merlot is very sweet, slightly carbonated, with little real wine flavor. It’s a lot more like raspberry soda (or raspberry pop, if you prefer) than wine. The color is a pale red, also rather like raspberry soda. The Wild Vines website puts a better spin on this product, calling it “a fruity and delicious Merlot enhanced by the bright taste of sweet ripe blackberries.”
We just commented on Gallo Twin Valley Shiraz, noting that it was not too bad. Whatever ground Gallo gained with that one was lost with this “wine product.”
Why do we try this stuff? To save YOU from buying it. Take our word for it – unless you are looking for a raspberry soda-like beverage with an imperceptibly slight alcoholic kick, avoid Wild Vines Blackberry Merlot like the proverbial plague.