Hot Rod Red leaves us cold — and bitter

The bottle proclaims that this red table wine from Cold Springs Winery is “So Good, It’s Bad.” Well, they got it half right.

To be fair, this wine isn’t exactly “bad.” (And trust me, we’ve had bad wine.) It’s just not very good. In fact, it’s not much of anything. Swallow this wine and by the time it reaches your stomach, your mouth has already forgotten it was there.

All revved up, but nowhere to go.Apparently the winery has forgotten as well. Hot Rod Red doesn’t even show up on the Cold Springs website. The label itself offers no clue about what to expect from this blend of Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. It’s a popular wine, according to other reviews, but we’re hard-pressed to explain why. At $8.99 (on sale at Fred Meyer), this wine was near the top of our usual price range, but as we’ve found time and again, spending a few extra dollars rarely improves a wine.

We wanted to like this wine. We really did. After all, it’s got a hot car and little devil horns worked into the label. And we dig local products. Cold Springs is just an hour away, near the tiny hamlet of Hammett in Idaho’s Snake River Valley. It has a good rep, and we’ll definitely try their wines again — just not this one.

We found the flavors to be indistinct. The wine’s a bit sharp on the front end, but not overly so. I imagine this is the sort of thing Catholics get at communion, to go along with those bland little wafers that are supposed to be the body of Jesus. You can tell it’s wine, but you’re really not supposed to enjoy it.

Speaking of gods (note the segue), Cold Springs has this clever little marketing tool where they put a printed collar-tag on the bottle’s capsule that has an “ology” word on it – like bi/ology, entom/ology, epistem/ology — you get the idea. And the card gives a definition of the word and ties it into the wine somehow. The idea is that science is at the root of good winemaking, and the folks at Cold Springs would rather educate than pontificate about the wine.

So how to explain the collar tag on this bottle, which is the/ology?. Pretty sure that’s the opposite of science, so we’re not sure how that fits into the stated goal to “inform you about the sciences that are involved in winemaking.”

The god on the card is Dagon, which Cold Springs says is the god of Earth and Agriculture. He looks kinda like a merman with a cool hat. He’s an old Babylonian god later adopted by the Philistines who was more into fish and grain than grapes. He’d probably be a good candidate to rep beer.

A better choice would have been Dionysus, the Greek god of the grape harvest. He was the original party animal, and was drawn in a chariot by lions and tigers. Now THAT is a hot rod. This wine could use some of his divine charisma. As it is, this Hot Rod is more like a family sedan. It runs well enough, but its not likely to get anyone excited.

Aromatique: Fairly strong, especially given the taste, with scents more akin to a shiraz or syrah.

Sip Quips: Surprisingly bland, with no clear flavor profile and a weak finish.

Kitchen Couplings: One thing would work as well as the next, but any savory meat dish or something with strong flavors would quickly overwhelm this forgettable wine.

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