|A little dizzy, a little fizzy.
Lauren at Hunter PR asked if I’d like the chance to preview a new line of wines – Barefoot Refresh. I said that I’d be happy to try them, albeit with a little bit of trepidation. Most of you out there are probably familiar with Barefoot – the value-priced, easily available line of California wines, both still and sparkling.
Barefoot is clearly taking the “moscato boom” to heart. In addition to white, red, and “pink” versions of moscato as both sparkling and still wines; the Refresh “Sweet White” is moscato blended with pinot grigio and the “Summer Red” is a pinot noir rosé and moscato mix. The “Crisp White” is a Chenin Blanc/Riesling concoction.
Over the years, I’ve tried a number of their wines and realized that I probably wasn’t their target demographic. “Pink moscato” is not usually my first choice. Still, a new series of wines deserves an open-minded view, so I popped them all in the fridge. All of their labels state “Best Served Chilled,” which usually makes me dubious. Chilling wine to fridge temperature usually kills the flavor. So, I braced myself, cracked the screwtops, and poured.
I was pleasantly surprised. For what these wines are – they’re not bad. All are light bodied and have a slight effervescence. The effervescence makes these wines go. All of them are blends. They’re all low in alcohol – right around 9% -- marketed as “a lively and light style of wine made with a unique process that enhances the wine’s flavor, lifts the fruit intensity, and gives it a signature fizz.” All of these non-vintage wines will retail for about $7. My thoughts about each:
Barefoot Refresh (NV) Crisp White –A simple, easy to drink, made-for-summer wine. I found a nose of grapefruit and melon, flavors echoed on the palate, along with some zippy citrus towards the finish. The slight effervescence makes the finish live up to its name. I imagine this would be a reasonable choice for a meat-and-cheese-plate picnic. Bubbles and acidity will cut through fatty and creamy flavors, especially on a warm day.
Barefoot Refresh (NV) Sweet White – I hadn’t looked up the aforementioned blends before I tried the wines, and my note says, “Reminds me a lot of Moscato, but in a good way.” It’s not as tooth-numbingly sweet as many of the American, particularly Californian, versions, and the little bubbliness makes it more reminiscent of Moscato d’Asti. I found lots of peach on the nose, which also shows up on the palate along with some tangerine flavors. The finish is leaner than many other Moscato, which I think is a good thing. The bubbles prevent it from getting overly cloying. If you’re a Moscato d’Asti fan, this is a nice alternative. I’d imagine the varied flavors of brunch would be a good match.
Barefoot Refresh (NV) Summer Red – I had an odd progression of opinion with this wine. At first taste, I simply didn’t like it. It reminded me a lot of those non-alcoholic sparkling grape juices you’ll see in the supermarket that sometimes get opened as “alternative beverages.” The flavor was similar to a cranberry-and-strawberry spritzer. That said, something about this wine rang my memory bell. It hit me later that evening – it tasted a lot like Lambrusco – the inexpensive, sweet Italian jug wine which I never cared for much – unless it’s with shellfish. I was planning to make some herb-roasted peel-and-eat shrimp for dinner, so I tried it alongside. You know what? Sometimes “Not bad” is good enough. Afternoon shrimp cocktail or some such with this wine would be workable.
Are these the best wines in the world? Nah. But for a brunch with or a summertime pull-and-pour, you might them worth a try when they become available in your area.
(Originally published on 11/20/12)