Middle Sister Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 October 12
by Dave


Every now and then growing up my parents had wine around the house. More often then not it was Beringer White Zinfedel. There was the occasional box of Franzia, and not to mention my mother’s wine coolers. Needless to say I got acquainted with cheap hooch early on in life, and loved it from the very start. Back then, cheap wine tried to be high class. It had pasted on parchment labels with calligraphy all over, real cork stoppers, and marketing that made it seem like wine that the French have been drinking all their lives.

But this self-imposed imaged always seemed to me about as high class as the final episode of Dallas. Now, there’s nothing wrong with cheap wine. Recent history has seen a rise in fun, good table wines. They’re inexpensive, surprisingly delicious, and can be purchased in an honest to God glass bottle. They don’t pretend to be anything but cheap, fun wine. They have a sense of humor, and that’s something I hugely respect.

One of the wines to come out of this movement is the Middle Sister. When it comes to my wine, I drink mostly cabs, so that’s the one I picked up at the store the other day.

I’ll be honest. When I’m looking at wines, there are two things I take into consideration.

The first is price. How much does this wine cost? Is it over $15 a bottle? If it is, then there’s a good chance I’ll be moving on. If it’s not, then I’ll look at it a little closer. The length of time spent seriously considering a wine is inversely proportionate to the cost of the wine.

The second is the label. Does it have a fun label? Can I relate to it? Does it make me chuckle, or at least put a little smile on my face? If yes, then there is a good chance I’ll consider it, given that the fist condition is met.

The Middle Sister met both of these pretty quickly. It has been sitting on my wine shelf for a bit of time, but if I recall correctly, it was right at $11 for the bottle. As far as the label? I’m a middle child. I’ll let you sort the rest out. Let’s just say it called to my inner spirit-animal.

I got home this afternoon and popped the cork on it. A little secret I’ve learned about these new styled red table wines is to always let them breath for at least an hour. My excitement always gets the best of me and I can never resist pouring a glass right away. Then I am immediately reminded why I settle on this little bit of information. The alcohol level was a punch in the mouth and warmed my belly better than Bourbon.

That said, it opened up quickly. It only took about a half hour for this dark red wine to soften up to an enjoyable level. It is marked by the usual tastes of a red cab mixture. Lots of plum, jam, berries and the like. Not too sweet. But there was something unique in this one. Something that pawed at the back of my throat for a few sips until I figured out what it was.


That’s right. Now, I can’t figure out if it’s more in the smell or the taste (hell, I can’t even decide if I love it or hate it) but there is something in there that definitely strikes of yeast. There was something primal about that. Yeast is what gives us bread which has sustained human life for millennia. It gave us beer and wine that was safer to drink than even the most deceptively clear water. I felt connected to my fellow humans through the course of our civilizations, and I think I came out better for it.

All that said, would I buy it again? I don’t know. This isn’t something that I would keep stocked in my bar and reach for on a regular basis, but I think I’d look into it from time to time.

In a world of over-oaked red wines, this one had something different to offer. Just like the middle sister in a family of beautiful women, it’s something cloying and special that I can put my finger on just yet. But I’ll let you know tomorrow when I’ve had time to sit on it and see where it goes.

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