Yes, that’s right – wine with Brownies!  Big, rich Cabernet Sauvignon wines, Syrahs and blends with higher alcohol content titillate the taste buds when paired with brownies or other rich chocolate dessert (truffles).  Of course, they also go well with hearty barbecue sauces and burgers with all the fixings.

For more nuanced flavors to match with less forthright dishes, try blended wines from Rhone and Bordeaux varietals.  The French have been getting the balances right for decades and, in some cases, centuries.  In the Cotes du Rhone, the winemakers balance Grenache and Syrah in the blends. The percentages vary, depending upon the vineyards, soil, microclimates and chateau style the winemaker is hoping to achieve.

Same for the Bordelaise, where they work their magic with varying blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot (Lafite Rothschild is planted with about 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 percent Merlot, 3 percent Cabernet Franc and 2 percent Petit Verdot; Mouton is planted with 77 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 11 percent Merlot, 10 percent Cabernet Franc and 2 percent Petit Verdot but its blend tends to contain over 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon in the best vintages).   The blending tradition is alive from the first growths down to the regional wines of the area, which can add character to inexpensive wines.

New world winemakers (United States, Australia, etc.) are pursuing similar regimens.  In the past month, we turned up several finds at prices from $9 to $16 and Tweeted about them.  Here are some of the best finds.

Rhone and Related

Good values abound in 09 Cotes du Rhone Village. We liked the Cairanne, Ch Dionysos $13. Grenache/Syrah nose; mid-body; good fruit/flavor; ripe (14.5 alc.). W/BBQ/Ribs.


Value pasta/burger red wine: Cotes du Rhone 09 Delas $10. Grenache, Syrah, berry nose; balanced, decent fruit, flavor for the price.

Food friendly John Alan 07 Bonne Terre Rouge Paso Robles $12. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% each Petit Sirah, Malbec, Cab Franc. Berries/mint nose; mid-full body.

Burger wine Tobin James 08 Paso Robles “Cacheflo” Red $9. Ripe nose (Rhone grapes 15.2 alc.); fat, chewy; stands up to catsup.

Old California field blend style 07 Vino Valpredo Squeezebox Red $9.  Zinfandel 49% Cabernet 35 Syrah 16. Bramble/spice nose; fruity long finish. W/beef.

Wine w/In-n-Out burger? Syrah 07 JT Cellars Lodi $10. Earthy/mint nose; big, ripe, good tannins, 14.3 alc. Big Zin works too.

Odd wine Molly Dooker 08 Shiraz 68% Merlot 17 Cab 15. 16.0 alc. $20. Between wine and Port. Dark; jam-berry nose; hot, fat. W/brownies.

Port-like Aussie Shiraz 08 Stalking Horse $13. Ripe grape nose (15% alc.), currant jam; big, fat, soft. Another brownie wine.

Burger/pizza Clare Valley Shiraz 05 Leasingham $10. Wine glut blowout of older vintages. Ripe grape nose; mid-fat body, fruity finish.

Bordeaux Varietals

Value Bordeaux 09 Ch. Genau $11. 80% Merlot 15 Cab 5 Malbec. Herbaceous/cocoa nose; mid-body, rough but opens w/air. BBQ wine.

Good value Cotes de Bordeaux, Castillon, 09 Chateau Hyot $12. Complex nose, good style for price. 50% Merlot 40 Cab Franc 10 Cab Sauv.


Fruity rib/BBQ Merlot Ch Ste Michelle 08 Columbia Valley Indian Wells $13. Berry/chocolate nose; round, ripe (14.5 alc.); tasty finish.

$15 Cabernet masquerading as $25+ Brennan Avery 08 Napa. Complex berries, mint, wood nose; round, ripe, soft tannins; nice finish.

Value red Hahn 08 Central Coast Cabernet $11. Light mint/varietal nose; mid-body, smooth tannins. W/pizza, pasta, burgers.

Value Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 09 Alexander Valley Vineyards $13. Berry, jam, mint nose; mid-fat body, soft tannins; easy drinking. W/beef

BBQ/Rib Patagonia Malbec 06 Valle Perdido $15. Berry/jam smoky nose; fat (2.5 residual sugar 14.0 alc.), grapey, chewy. A little odd.

White Bordeaux

Stylish white Graves 09 Ch. St. Robert $15. Light Sauvignon Blanc nose, hints of Semillon; mid-body, balanced, soft fruity finish. W/sole.