I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but as much as I enjoy drinking wine, I don't know much about it. When I'm perusing a wine list at a restaurant, I pretend to be "in the know," scratching my chin as though I am deeply contemplating the virtues of each choice, but I really have no clue what I'm doing. There are certain wines that I know I like -- full-bodied reds (particularly Italian reds) and for whites, Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand -- and also ones I know I dislike -- any Chardonnay. Beyond that, however, I base my wine-purchasing decisions upon recommendations from the sommelier or waiter, or buy whatever my parents and brothers deem acceptable. (They, unlike me, have actually been to Napa.)
The system works for the most part, but at wine shops, or more accurately, Cost Plus World Market, I run into a little trouble. Without a wine connoisseur or expert to lead me toward the finest and most reasonably priced bottles, I have to fill my basket using my own devices. More often than not, I make my final decisions based on the name, appearance of the label and those little stickers that let customers know if it has been ranked by Wine Spectator. Wineries know that consumers often rely on external, mostly superficial clues to predict a wine's integrity. That's why they put those cute little animals on the labels of bottles like Yellowtail.
Given my propensity to judge a bottle by its outside packaging, it would seem to follow that I would never select two Zinfandel wines called Menage a Trois and 7even Deadly Zins. With names that horrible, reason would dictate that the wines should be horrible too. Except they aren't. At all. 7even Deadly Zins, a spicy blend of pepper and fruits (I detect some blackberry), is one of my favorite bottles of red wine under $15. And Menage a Trois, a bottle I tried for the first time a few weeks ago, is another surprisingly astute offering for its under $10 pricetag.
At this point, I should attempt to describe the symphony of flavors and the finish on the palate so that I can substantiate my claim of esteem for these wines, but as I mentioned earlier, I am not an expert on the fermented grape. I do know that both these wines make anything that comes out of the Yellowtail winery look like bottom-barrell $2 buck chuck. And I do know that I'd happily serve either bottle at a dinner party.
I'd just cover up the labels first.