The use of “smooth” right in the title immediately had me worried. Smooth is the ultimate booze buzzword, which more often than not means “we didn’t even taste it, but we could likely justify it as smooth.” Nonetheless, once again, I was suckered in by beautiful labeling and I bought Bear Flag Smooth Red Wine Blend to try on a cheap and cheerful night — and I wasn’t disappointed.
For those of you who read my recent Party Wine post, you may simply think I’ve lost my mind and only drink cheap Cali reds now. Rest assured, I remain sane, and Bear Flag spoke to me on a higher level than merely a “party wine” like Revolution Red. For one, they actually list the grapes they use in their wine. In a quite unusual medley, Bear Flag opts for Tempranillo, Touriga, Zinfandel and Alicante Bouschet grapes, which is nice change from the increasingly-boring Cab Sauv blend coming out of California.
Bear Flag Smooth Red Tasting Notes
Bear Flag look more mature than its cheap-and-cheerful peers. It sits in the glass with a commanding ruby with a touch of ocher to its rim, clear throughout, with none of the juvenile purple of its ilk. The nose of this wine is an absolute silk blanket of fruit. It’s lush, sweet and jammy giving you a preview for what’s to come.
Ok, perhaps I was waxing a bit poetic. Bear Flag is — afterall — a $13 bottle of wine. But that makes it all the more impactful when you sip it. It’s sweet as hell, and pushes the envelope for my tolerance. That said, it is surprisingly complex with tons of dark plum, black cherry, oak spice and vanilla. It even packs enough tannins to leave a good dry finish which helps offset the sweetness. There’s very little acidity, and a long pleasant finish which makes Bear Flag great option for a session sipper. Pro tip: a nice sharp cheese goes unbelievably good with this wine. I stumbled upon this by accident with some extra-old cheddar, but the bite of a good hard cheese pairs perfectly with the sweet fruit of Bear Flag.