If you're in the mood to wallow in a wine that's well made but slurpy with wild fruit, structure and tannins be damned, we've got the red for you.
Let's say you're doing roast duck in a seasonal berry sauce, maybe with mashed sweet potatoes on the side, and want a wine that instead of providing counterpoint intensifies the natural sweetness of the food. That wine is the 2007 Ménage a Trois California Red (about $14 at supermarkets and big box stores but often discounted).
As its name implies, this is a blend of three red grapes: zinfandel, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. It's the merlot that dominates, with the zin providing a bit of bramble and warm spice up front and the cab a drier finish than one might expect. The sweet spot in the middle is more of a bulge, really, with the merlot galloping over the palate with tons of big, velvety, self-indulgent fruit. Ménage a Trois telegraphs its punch with an aroma we're afraid we're going to have to characterize as jammy. (Yes, a jammy nose. Sorry.) That quality blossoms on the tongue with lots and lots of ripe plum, blackberry and — surprise!— blueberry to the fore.
This jubilee of berries in the sauce and in the glass could work quite nicely when one is in a certain mood. But, please: no marshmallows in the sweet potatoes. One has to draw the line somewhere.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.