2009 Big House Red, the Ultimate Kitchen Sink Guzzler

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Perfect for kicking back with the cats.
​Finding under-$10 reds that don't suck can be an abject journey through liquor store fodder, Safeway drivel, and undrinkable vintage wines. Hell, some of the wines I've tried in the single-digit dollar category aren't even fit to cook with, but there are some amazing hidden gems out there. And as we head toward the last couple weeks of BBQ season, what better way to complement the hot dogs, grilled vegetables, and Saturday hangover then a terrific bottle of red that costs less then the medallion-sized, grass-fed beef patties sizzling on the grill?

Big House winery out of Livermore produces exceptional wines at exceptional value, and its 2009 Big House Red, is the best of the bunch, a testament to the kitchen sink approach to blending. Kitchen sink reds are a blend of numerous varietals, not necessarily traditional, often outright eccentric. It's an idea from Italy, where a large carafe of variously blended varietals (usually grown in the same town they're served in) is placed on the table for the whole family to imbibe without guilt.

Kitchen sink is a rarer breed in California, where it's sometimes invoked as an excuse to use whatever is left over after the main production. This is not the case with the 2009 Big House Red. A blend of over 14 varietals ranging from Petite Sirah to Carignane to Mourvedre, the 2009 is a delicious, smoky red that reminds us of the earthy Spanish Grenacha's we adore, mixed with the piquancy of the robust terroir of sun-drenched Livermore. Spiced plum and dried currants mingle with smoky tannins, chocolate, and boysenberry to produce a balanced and fruit-driven wine ideal for pairing with smoked meats, sun, and oysters. And it's just as suited to slouching back on the couch Sunday nights after dinner, following fall's last hurrah at the grill, watching Dexter with your significant other. In our case that means two cats.

2009 Big House Red: $6.99 at Whole Foods SOMA, 399 Fourth St. (at Harrison); $9.99 at Faletti Foods, 1275 Fell (at Broderick).

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