Trader Joe's Block Red Shiraz - ballin' on a budget!

If you're looking for a great wine value at Trader Joe's, you will probably notice that Block Red Shiraz is the cheapest wine at the store. Or any store, for that matter. So why bother review it? Here’s why… 

When our great-great--grandfathers noticed that the amphora of grape juice had fermented, they went ahead and drank it. Turns out they liked it, and they started fermenting grape juice on purpose. Did they make wine to have an academic subject to study as an adult, have knowledge to make others feel inferior, or find a new luxury good to spend thousands of dollars on? No, they wanted a safe beverage to help pass the time, provide flavor to their meal, and loosen up conversation. Tap water is safe to drink nowadays, but we still need cheap beverages to lighten up times with friends. 

My regular readers will remember from my Big House Red 2011 review that boxed wine serves an important role in the wide array of beverage choices available. It’s good for a month after opening, can provide a single glass on a weekday night when you don’t want to open a full bottle, and it’s cheap. At a whopping $10 for the equivalent of four 750mL bottles, Block Red Shiraz averages $2.50 per bottle, making it the cheapest wine a person can buy (unless you are in California where Charles Shaw costs $2.00). And for comparison, when I bought this box of Block Red I also bought a bottle of Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon… I couldn’t take more than two sips of it, so Block Red easily beats the competition. 

It’s cheap, but is it good? See the Wine StarMap below… 

Color: light cherry red 

Aroma/Flavor: The aroma is very light and it takes deep breaths and focus to pick out the flavors. The light aromas are split evenly between ripe plum and non-fruit aromas of black pepper and earthy smoked meat. The black pepper aroma stands out more strongly on the palate than it does on the nose. The black pepper is up-front and positively spicy, while the ripe plum and earthy smoke are joined by a touch of fig and a metallic (steel) undertone. The fruit turns a bit tart in the finish and the metallic undertone from earlier in the sip outlives the fruit.  The alcohol is only 13% (low for Australian Shiraz), but it is still adds a small amount of noticeable heat. The wine is very light-bodied, a bit thin in the mouth, has nice mouth-watering acidity, and hardly any tannins. 

Finesse: This wine is simple, and it was designed that way for situations that don’t require anything more than simple red wine. 

Who will love this wine: People who like plums, put lots of black pepper on their food, and don’t demand depth. A few months ago I was teaching a wine basics class to friends and snuck this in at the end; two people said it was their favorite wine of the night. Available for retail price of $10. I won’t review the severity of hangovers this wine provides :) This wine wasn't in my lineup testing the best cheap wine at Trader Joe's, but if it had been, I think it would have scored very highly.

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