2009 Ravenswood Vintners Blend Petite Sirah, California, $10
If you are looking for a red outside the norm, grab a bottle of petite sirah. It has the body of a cabernet and the finesse of a merlot, along with deep dark fruit flavors that are approachable and food friendly. The nose starts with terrific layers of blackberries and cocoa powder, which carry over to the mouth-feel seamlessly. The wine is delicious and for under $10, it is a steal with flavors galore. Rich, dark black jammy fruit and dark chocolate flow like red velvet with each sip. The finish just holds onto the tongue perfectly, begging for another sip. It's good with stew or with marinated steaks.
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Three Olives Loopy Vodka, England, 70 Proof, $20
Another new and exciting flavor to hit the vodka scene, Loopy is like having Fruit Loops cereal in an adult glass. Starting with the aromas of sweet cherries and fruit punch, the flavors show in full force along with loads of other fresh fruit flavors in the mouth. It is truly like grabbing a box of the cereal and eating it straight out of the box. The flavors linger nicely and there is the right touch of warmth from the vodka. Some drink ideas would be a breakfast martini, one part Loopy vodka and two parts milk in a martini glass. It is even enjoyable on the rocks or with cranberry juice and soda water.
Columnist Lain Bradford is a wine writer and reviewer who has achieved his first level master sommelier certificate and is working toward his Certified Wine Educator degree. He only writes about beverages that are available in South Carolina and Georgia. Follow him on Twitter under the name "winereview."