February 01, 2006

Tusk 'N Red 2003 Mendocino County Red

about $15

(Mendocino Wine Co., Ukiah, Calif; tusknred.com)

Just because you're sitting in front of the TV watching football and eating chips and salsa doesn't mean you have to drink beer.

Defy the game-interrupting ads and pull out a red instead. The very idea of men mashing up each other makes me think of a big, burly, high-octane zinfandel, but that'll have enough alcohol to put us to sleep by halftime.

Better something lighter, something that can match us potato chip for nacho and not leave us feeling groggy and overfull. Something that's easy, even zany, to fit the game mood. Something like Tusk 'N Red, a combo of syrah, zinfandel, carignane, petite sirah, sangiovese and assorted other unnamed reds. That sounds as strange as the elephant watching bocce on the wine label—and, like the label, I wouldn't think about it too hard—but regardless of the blend (and the elephant), it's delicious: light on its feet yet full of spicy cherrylike flavor, as ready for salsa as it is for lasagna.

This review first appeared in the the Denver Post.

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