2008 Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel, California; $10
The tagline for this winery is "No Wimpy Wines," and every sip of this wine lives up to that motto.
It starts with a nose full of ripe red raspberries, spice and a subtle airiness that lets you know it's an approachable wine with style and finesse for a terrific price.
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Once it hits the mouth, the flavors take off. Layers of oak, dark fruit, black cherries and a touch of black licorice glide across the tongue.
On the finish, the cherry and raspberry notes resurface along with slight hints of dryness and smoky vanilla. For a $10 bottle of zinfandel, it hits all the right marks and delivers way above expectations. It's terrific with barbecue or pot roast.
Square One Botanical Gin, Idaho; $35
This is a boutique vodka that's hand-produced using 100 percent organic rye. Square One is also making infused-flavor versions that are out of this world.
The Botanical is infused with pear, rose, chamomile, lemon, verbena, lavender, rosemary, coriander and citrus peel, all of which are also organic. This is a a true tasting experience.
The nose starts with the citrus zest and lavender notes along with a touch of the alcohol coming through, but once it hits the mouth the fireworks start. Soft notes of warm botanicals, especially lavender and chamomile, start on the front of the mouth and then give way to the citrus notes.
The herbal notes linger nicely on the finish. All of the flavors blend together perfectly for a unified and delicious tasting experience.
This would be perfect on the rocks, with a twist or even with some fresh-squeezed fruit juices. It's a unique tast-ing experience that makes you want to come back for seconds.
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."