Sometimes one just has a yen for an off-dry red wine, not a sweet wine per se, but one a bit less demanding than most drinkable reds, an everyday wine to wash down a big gooey mushroom pizza with extra cheese. The 2010 Dalliance, a blend of zinfandel, barbera, syrah, tempranillo and garnacha from California's Lake County, fills that bill nicely. Expect to pay about $12 at big-box stores.
This playful red telegraphs its punch with a nose compounded of cinnamon, clove, date and, most important, black cherry fruit. On the tongue that black cherry morphs into cherry cola underpinned by the molasses and spice of warm gingerbread, yielding a fruit-forward, near-zero-tannin attack with just enough underlying complexity to keep it interesting. Finally, at the tail end of a medium-long finish, a note of black coffee whisks away any trace of perceived sweetness and clears the way for the next sip or the next bite.
In addition to that luscious gut bomb pizza, Dalliance will pair nicely with grilled flank steak with wild mushrooms or pork chops baked with apples.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.