Given the resurgent popularity of bourbon in craft cocktails, it's a wonder no one thought of this sooner. But the people at Stave & Steel did, and the result is their Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles 2015, widely available at about $15 a bottle.
The wine's 100 percent cabernet sauvignon grapes are aged for four months in American oak bourbon barrels that have been toasted and charred to enhance the flavor of the liquor.
The wine is packaged in a sleek matte-black bottle — upside is it looks cool; downside is you can't see how much wine is left.
When you open the bottle, the bourbon announces itself in a whiff of that rich woodsmoke-and-brown-sugar aroma, with just a hint of dark cherry.
The bourbon is more subtle on the tongue, with just a little of its smoke and burnt sugar enhancing a velvety mouthful of juicy fruit: cherry, blackberry, plum. Sturdy tannin balances it all, and vanilla and spice round it out to a lingering, smooth finish.
Do you really need me to tell you what to pair this cab with? A steak, on the grill. Make mine a ribeye, and before you throw it over the charcoal slit a pocket in the steak and tuck in a whole roasted green chile, so its smoky flavors play with the bourbon. Or drink this wine with a bacon cheeseburger — or for that matter a bacon anything.
Colette Bancroft, Times staff writer