At first I was extremely skeptical about drinking this Barefoot Shiraz.
Call me a snob if you like, but my hesitation stems from the fact that Barefoot is owned by E & J Gallo. If you’re not familiar with Gallo, it’s the behemoth of the corporate wine world that uses a mass fermentation and mass production model for their wines. The result is cheap, poor quality plonk.
But Gallo wines seem to be everywhere. Whether it’s the Gallo-branded wines, or owned labels such as Carlo Rossi and Andre; I seem to come across Gallo in shops all over the world. My early university years were spent guzzling Gallo wines because they were cheap and readily available. At best, I’d get a bottle resembling sweet grape juice; at worst, I’d be left with cough syrup or headache-inducing paint stripper. It wasn’t until a few years later, after going on a wine tasting trip to Napa and Sonoma that I realized just how complex, layered and delicious wine could be. From that point on, I’ve refrained from drinking anything Gallo-related.
My days of a revolting wine and Sundays spent on the sofa with an ice pack and a bucket are far behind me. But a couple of weeks ago, this bottle of Barefoot Shiraz NV was brought to my house as a dinner party offering. I’ll admit that up until this point I had never tried a Barefoot wine, but knowing its family background all too well, I certainly never felt the need. Now, I didn’t want to offend my guests by refusing to drink their gift, so I figured that I’d have to give it a go. At the very least, I’d nurse a small glass until an opportune moment arose for me to chuck it down the sink.
What actually happened took me by complete surprise…
Scents of poached plum and jam wafted up from the glass as I examined the red liquid sloshing around inside. Albeit a touch on the sweet side, the fruity aromas were actually quite pleasant. In terms of body and viscosity, I was expecting to see a thin, watery wine, but much to my surprise, it was bold and opaque in body, with a rich cherry hue that clung to the glass. So far, this wasn’t anything like the insipid mess that I remembered.
Several sips revealed a smooth, medium-bodied wine with heavy notes of redcurrant, plum and blackberry jam, with a soft touch of oak on the finish. It did lack an element of complexity, I would have loved to have tasted a few more layers and characteristics, but overall, I have to say that I liked it! It probably won’t top my list of favorites anytime soon, but it is a pleasant, easy-drinking wine which has undeniable quality for its price. If you’re a red Gallo drinker, I’d suggest chucking out your usual and switching to Barefoot. If you’re a skeptic like myself, give it a try, you also might be pleasantly surprised. I never thought I’d say it, but E & J Gallo has actually done something right!
My only concern with this Barefoot Shiraz would be the Non-Vintage aspect as I don’t know how great consistency between bottles would be. Non-Vintage means that the blend is made up of a variety of different vintages. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a poor quality wine, bottle to bottle consistency can be difficult to control. However, as I’ve never tried Barefoot before, I can’t assume anything quite yet. The only way to find out for sure is to try few more bottles of it. So on that note… back into my box I go, and I might just take a bottle of Barefoot Shiraz with me!
Barefoot Shiraz retails between £5-7 in the UK and can be bought from a variety of different merchants, such as Sainsburys, Tesco and Asda.