Red blends are the fastest-growing category of American wine, but it can be difficult to guess how they'll taste. Blends are the wine equivalent of sausages: usually tasty, but we're rarely told what's in them. The recent fashion in California has been for red blends to feature more residual sugar than most traditional red wines, particularly in the $12 and under price tier. But as the red blend trend expands into higher price ranges, savvy shoppers can expect to find wines that smell and taste more of jam than fresh berries but that are not overtly sugary on the tongue. This dark and fanciful bottling from film director Francis Ford Coppola is a perfect example. This inky red is made up of two-thirds cabernet sauvignon from Lake County, Napa's neighbor to the north, and one-third malbec from Monterey, south of the Bay Area. Malbec's signature scents of purple flowers and cognac-like notes of barrel spice play roles on the nose, and each sip delivers buckets of juicy fruit flavors of black and blue berries and a plush easy-drinking mouthfeel. It could certainly pair nicely with Thanksgiving fare, provided you don't mind opening a "Vendetta" with your blood relations over dinner.
Francis Ford Coppola "Vendetta" Red Blend, Lake and Monterey Counties, Calif., $18.99 (regularly $22.99, sale price through Sunday.) PLCB Item #9998.