Wine Review: Winking Owl Merlot

In this piece, I’ll be continuing my wine review series with something a little easier to get your hands on than my previous piece. As always, I’ll take a little bit to go through the drink and the brand. After that, it will be time to go through my tasting procedures so you know how I arrive at my tasting notes, which come after that. To wrap things up, I’ll finish it out with some pairing suggestions for the Winking Owl Merlot, and some thoughts on this kind of wine in general. To give a preview, I think this wine is a lot better than its price tag would suggest.

This time, I picked up a bottle of Winking Owl Merlot. Generally, Merlots are dry red wines that often have dark fruity elements, like cherry and raspberry. This one was no exception to the rule here. The brand is an interesting one, as it’s Aldi’s house brand. The European grocery store, famous for having cheap prices and you needing to bring your own bags sells mostly their own brands. They’ve been my go-to grocery store for the last several years, and I’ve recently started adding their wines to my weekly shopping list.

For my tasting procedures on red wines, I pour them into a large glass (pictured at the top of the article, an awesome gift from my partner!) and let it sit for a few minutes to let the flavors develop. From there, I give it a quick swirl, a sniff, and a drink. While I generally drink with meals or after dinner, to get the best sense of the flavors of a wine, I try to brush my teeth, wait an hour, drink some water and then taste the wine. I’m no sommelier by any stretch, but this seems to help me more consistently judge wines.

For the Winking Owl Merlot, I got an immediate hit of pleasant blackberry flavor, with something of a dark cherry aftertaste. In terms of mouthfeel, this is one of the drier wines I’ve ever had, which makes it appealing to my palette. One thing it is not is complex. This is a relatively simple wine, and that’s also something that I enjoy, especially at this price point.

At my local store, this wine goes for under $3.00 per bottle. This makes it one of the cheapest wines you can find. With that said, I’m shocked at how good it is for the price: I’ve been buying their red wines for a few weeks now, and I certainly plan on doing so.

In terms of food pairing, this wine’s relatively simple flavor breakdown makes it flexible. I enjoyed it a lot with some bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, which will also become one of my go-to recipes. Winking Owl Merlot proves something that’s true in large parts of the beverage industry: the price on the label does not tell you how good its contents are going to be, and I’m going to be sure to try more of Aldi’s wines.
About author
Garrett is a writer and commentator based in the South. His areas of expertise lie in cooking, fashion, and the outdoors among others. He has been writing and educating professionally for years, and enjoys creating online discourses around positively masculine spaces.


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