Trader Joe’s Coastal Merlot 2010

Trader Joe’s: $3.99

Aaron:  Teri hits the nail on the head with this one: standard but nothing too spectacular.  I smelled earthy notes of spice mixed with fruit on the nose and felt that the “mediumness” of the body characterized the entire wine (yes I made up the word mediumness … expect to see it frequently throughout my posts from now on).  The flavor included sweet, ripe fruits that played on the fringe of jammy but what really highlighted the quality of this wine was the tingling sensation that I normally taste when drinking carbonated water.  79 points

Teri: Trader Joe’s made a standard merlot but nothing too spectacular. The smell is faint with hints of dark cherry and spice. The flavors of the wine carry red but slightly tart fruits with medium tannins and a spice taste that lingers on the tongue. 78 points

Big Ass Zin (Adler Fels) 2009

Total Wine & More, $17.99

Aaron: My overall opinion of this Zin: find a different one.  This may be a cute novelty and the bottle talks about how “big and bold” the flavor is, but when I blind tasted this I thought I was drinking a strong pinot.  The nose was fruity and I concluded that the additional scent was of healthy tree leaves (unique I guess).  The flavor was unfortunately not what I would expect for a $17 Zinfandel.  I did taste dark berries and chocolate and I admittedly enjoyed the strong sense of nutmeg, but the body was just far too light for my preference.  85 points

Teri: This Zin was perfect for my taste: fruity and smooth with a smooth beautiful finish that lingers. The nose is bold but the taste is perfect. Flavors of blackberry and raspberry sit perfectly on the palate with long smooth tannins that yields a hit of nutmeg and coco on the finish. I love the novelty label that is perfectly memorable as the wine itself. 91 points

Sweet Pea Apple Wine

Total Wine and More, $3.99

Teri: This bottle is a great alternative for your non-wine drinking friends who normally partake in fruity cocktails. This apple wine carries a light nose of green apple (of course) with citrus. The taste is crisp and refreshing with hints of pear and very slight oak. A wonderful drink for a warm summer’s day or add to tropical mixed drinks. 88 points

Aaron:  Anyone who has read more than one of these posts can probably anticipate my review …
Regardless of my points and though I’m a traditionalist who likes bold, red wines I can honestly say this is an excellent (and very affordable) substitute for non-wine drinkers.  If you have a sweet tooth or are looking for something unique, this is a great option.  83 points

Cline Pinot Noir 2009

Total Wine & More, $12.99

Aaron:  Teri had me blind taste this pinot – probably because she knows I generally don’t like pinots and she wanted to see if she could trick me into giving it a super high rating!  The only thing I sensed on the nose (though I’ve never had the best sense of flavors when it comes to that) was oaky bark.  I was somewhat confused by the flavor because I consistently tasted passionfruit.  After I let it sit on my palate, I got a broad, nutty velvet taste that isn’t as fruity as I prefer and had more citrus than I expect (hence the passionfruit label).  I admit that I kind of liked it but most of my points are due to its uniqueness.  87 points

Teri: If I had to describe this bottle in one word it would be strawberry. It contained a standard fruity nose and was full of strawberry in the taste. The finish was long and semi-smooth with medium tannins. This bottle would be enjoyed by individuals who normally like medium bodied fruit forward red wines. 88 point