Three Thieves 2003 Tempranillo ($9.99)
The user-friendly front label describes this inky reddish-purple Tempranillo simply as "Spanish Red Wine." One must turn to the back for the wine-geek stuff: It's a Vino de la Tierra de Extremadura, from the scenic, historic region near Spain's border with Portugal to the west of Madrid. The clear 1-liter jug with its metal screw cap and traditional glass handle may inspire trepidation, but the wine is quite pleasant in a crowd-pleasing, easy-drinking style: Grapey and sweet on the nose, it's reminiscent of black-cherry Kool-Aid, but appetizing and fresh, not cloying or artificial, with just a dash of white pepper in the mix. Flavors are consistent, bright and forward cherry fruit, a bit one-dimensional but fresh and clean, soft but not sweet, with sufficient acidity to give it a pleasant snap. A fine picnic quaffer, it shouldn't offend the most nose-in-the-air wine snob. US Importer: Liberators, Sausalito, Cailf. (Jun 29, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: Hamburgers, of course, actually medium-rare bisonburgers made from lean buffalo meat.



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