Well, after my last glowing post about the wonderful Cooper’s Hawk wine that I received for Christmas, I had to fall down into the wine ghetto again. Last Thursday while shopping with Nancy, she spotted these cute little bottles of wine- and of course, they were on sale (they usually are at Walgreen’s, for anyone interested). So she got the Moscato, and of course, I got the Merlot. I used to hear these things said that if something is on sale for quite a while, there’s a reason. And I figured out what it was. The wine was not impressive, and I would have been firing off a complaint letter to the Gallo Vineyards if more than one buck was paid for this lot.
I have had Gallo wine before; I don’t remember that being a particularly memorable or horrifying experience, either way. It didn’t stay with me. Not the case this time. I opened the cap (bottle cap wine, another blog post, children) and took a whiff. It was not a particularly pleasant smell, nor did it smell like formaldehyde. It smelled like merlot, but musty merlot. The type that I used to buy back at Kay’s Food & Liquor, in the Willow, where I was wiping the dust off the bottle and wondering how many years Dave the proprietor had it there (but not caring b/c all I wanted to do was drink). Now that I don’t drink like a bar patron who watches old episodes of General Hospital, I have gained more appreciation for wine and what good and bad are, in terms of bouquet, tasting notes, tannins, etc. I care now. So much that I’m pretty certain Gallo Merlot will never grace the wine table in my casa again.
As I said, the fragrance was older merlot, the type you can imagine JR Ewing may have chugged back at Southfork in the 80’s. I left it to sit out for a bit, thinking exposure to air may make it less of a virulent odor. Instead, it got worse. After a hour, it smelled like formaldehyde. I pinched my nostrils together and took a drink. Uneventful. I waited a while, had my gluten free pasta with turkey meatballs, and didn’t pinch my nostrils this time, and then I could fully taste what I was drinking..You get your black cherry, plum, and oaky taste, as is the norm with most merlots, but it is smoky. I am not quite enough of a saveur to discern whether that is normal, but I don’t recall that being a typical merlot characteristic in most of the ones I have tried. I was not impressed with the flavor, nostril pinching or not.
As much as I didn’t dig the taste, I REALLY lost what indifference I had when the flavor lingered. Most wines have flavor that will linger, as most people who wear sandals to the beach will retain some sand between their toes if they don’t wash their feet completely. I don’t know how long Gallo Merlot is supposed to linger, but I doubt it’s supposed to still be lingering 3 HOURS after you finish. I know they want to leave their mark on the wine drinkers of the world, but it was ridiculous. I swished with blackberry iced tea. I swished with cold water. I swished with lemon ginger tea. I swished with ginger ale. Nothing! I could still taste the merlot, and believe me, after 3 hours, it did not taste chocolate cake glorious. It tasted “gross, I ate a helium balloon for no reason”. I am not kidding. Only after I brushed my teeth twice and swished with mouthwash, did I not taste the merlot. If it were a wine I loved, I likely would have complained, but I did not remotely bond with this wine, so still having it around after the fact, was annoying.
I would advise you to avoid if you can. I think I have had the Gallo cab, and it wasn’t that bad- nor did it linger like a foot full of wet sand. There are cheaper merlots out there, I would advise you not to drink this. If you’re going Gallo, the cabernet sauvignon is a preferable choice.