Iron Wine. “Unabashedly Modern”

Posted in Uncategorized by EVWG on the September 25th, 2006

ironwine.pngI had never seen anything like it. I couldn’t believe it was true but there it was in front of me. I’m sure we have all heard of “wine in a box” and we all know the craziness that is two-buck Chuck. But have you ever heard of Iron Wine? It is not from California and it is not from Europe. No it is from the beautiful Mendoza region of Argentina. And it is packaged in an aluminum can. I shouldn’t even continue. I should just leave it at that. When one says, “wine in a can” that should be the end of it. It shouldn’t be opened and swirled and analyzed. We’ll just have a good chuckle and move on with our lives and try to forget we saw such a thing. No such luck. I had to try this bizarre mutation of industrial wine marketing.
I must say it sat for many days on the shelf just taunting me. I just couldn’t bring myself to “crack” it open. But there it was staring at me. Taunting me. Every once in awhile I would pick it up and look at the text and design of the can. Smooth brushed steel text on the sides of the can asking me if I can handle it, “Can you drink wine?” interspersed with “Wine you can drink,” challenged me to a taste test. And when I read what would normally be placed on the back label of a “bottle” I knew it was time to get the crew together for a quick crack. It read:
“Thousands of years ago wine was stored in clay amphora. Finally it has evolved to this unique blend that combines Argentina’s best grapes with the latest evolution in wine packaging…” Now that is an ambitious statement. Using the word “finally” really clinches it. Ah…finally. It even goes on to give some very colorful tasting notes, “Flavors of cherry, blackberry, leather and cocoa abound…smooth and comfortable on the palate.” Wow. And then to sum up the whole experience before you even open the can, “Iron Wine…unabashedly modern!” Okay I said to myself let us see what “unabashedly modern tastes like.
Gal, Mr. Wolf and myself sat around the Iron Wine staring at it with wonder and confusion. What conference room came up with this idea and why? We brought out the wine glasses and placed them next to the…can. It just didn’t look or feel right. I mean, we were about to taste wine but there was no bottle. It felt like something was missing. It was all a bit bizarre. But we are wine geeks and just letting something like this fall by the wayside was just out of the question. We were obligated as experimentalists to bite the bullet, crack the can and give a report. There was no better time then right then.
Crack went the can. Just holding it felt weird. I am used to a certain way of pouring wine into a glass where I twist the bottle upwards as soon as I am ready to move on to the next glass so as to avoid dripping. This was a whole other story. I might as well have been pouring Budweiser into a wine glass. The motion of it all felt odd and even though I knew I was pouring out of a can I still did the upwards twist out of habit and heard the snickers and giggles of my colleagues turn into genuine laughter.
And so there it was…in the glass…Iron Wine…blend of malbec and cabernet sauvignon. I swirled the wine to coat the walls of the glass, took a deep breath and experienced the first nose. I pulled away quickly and looked at the guys’ reactions. We stared at each other and simultaneously said, “sulfur.” There was a moment of silence and Gal spoke up. He said it wasn’t as bad as he thought it was going to be and I concurred. He had verbalized what my brain was trying to register. Mr. Wolf was still in awe trying to figure out what else was going on in the glass. The weird thing was that there was actuallly a nose to this wine. Granted it was underneath a large dose of sulfur and now, as it “opened” notes of aluminum. Of course all this was before we actually tasted the wine.
We took our first sips and the deal was done. The honeymoon was over. That was all she wrote. The wine went down and threatened to come back up. There was an insipidness to the taste that could not be ignored. No cherry, No blackberry either. We all coughed and laughed and chalked it up to a learning experience. I watched as Gal and Mr. Wolf shook their heads and poured out the wine. I on the other hand had to really get the full picture here. I took one last sip to actually feel why this was so bad. I know that tasting notes on such a wine should not even exist. I know that I shouldn’t be taking it seriously at all. And I wasn’t really. I just had to understand why it was bad. The sulfur and aluminum taste along with lingering trail of acidity still attacking my throat was all the indication I needed to tell myself it was over and follow suit by pouring the Iron Wine down the drain.
Marketing has no shame. This product might serve as a cheap way to make individual sangria maybe with some orange juice and some sprite to cut through the uncomfortable flavors but even then I think the quality of the wine might mess with one’s stomach after a couple cans. Well, there you have it. We did it. We tried something that should be scoffed at and forgotten. We dug in our heels and gave it a go. And sure it was a pretty bad wine but the experience was fun and I will always remember trying a wine in a can. But in the end if this is “unabashedly modern,” I am a traditionalist.

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