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trader joes merlotThis is cheap wine. Smells cheap, tastes cheap. That said, this Merlot is competently made and nothing jumps out as flagrantly awful. If that sounds like faint praise it’s because at this price you can bring home disasters. This is not one of those.

Simple black cherry with vague chemical notes in the background and a bit of earth are about the only aromas to be found. But the red and dark berry fruit is ripe enough to provide some richness on the midpalate helped out by restrained chocolate flavors. The finish is tangy with soft, powdery tannins. Medium bodied and not at all cloying or syrupy, it feels light on its feet and refreshing.

This is fine as a mid-week burger companion designed to keep the spending in check.

The wine is made for Trader Joe’s by ASV Wines, a custom winemaking outfit in Santa Clara County that makes private label wines.

Pair with something cheerful, lively and utterly familiar such as The Beatles, The Night Before

Score: 83

Price: $6

Alc: 13.5%

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