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2006 Hogue Cabernet-Merlot Red wine for non-red wine drinkers

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The 2006 Hogue Columbia Valley Cabernet-Merlot features a delicate balance of spice and fruitiness.

As a casual wine enthusiast, I’ve noticed that red wines typically receive the appreciation of a select, but by no means small, crowd. To say that reds are an acquired taste is perhaps too critical, but many red devotees shun the white and blush wines, while fans of these supposedly “easier” wines stay clear of the boldness of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah.

However, the characteristically heavier red wines offer amazing body, complexity and food-pairing options. One of the most accessible red wines for the non-red-wine-drinking crowd is the 2006 Hogue Cabernet-Merlot.

Dry, and with fruity and chocolate notes, this blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot in a ratio of 11:9 is a basic, easily enjoyed red.

Though the first sip lacks the explosive orchestration of nuanced flavor that marks most cabernets and merlots, the Hogue red blend features a classic red wine base, structured with a dry black cherry fruitiness that rounds out to a dark, chocolatey finish with a light oak characteristic and subtle spice.

The wine has subtle balance and light finish, making it an excellent pairing for simple, flavorful meals that focus on the freshness of the ingredients – think along the lines of gourmet pizza, pastas, herbed chicken and grilled salmon. It is also excellent with barbecue since the subtle boldness holds its own against charbroiled flavors, but it doesn’t overwhelm the palate for more delicate fare, such as grilled seafood.

Founded in 1982, Hogue wines come from Washington’s Columbia Valley. Grown in Eastern Washington’s sandy loam, the Hogue Cellars vineyard takes pride in the quality of its grapes, and produced the cabernet-merlot to highlight the distinct and regionally characteristic qualities of its wine.

I recommend this wine as a good alternative to heavier reds and as a pairing with bold and flavorful foods. The wine is enjoyable on its own, and is an excellent replacement for a chocolate dessert with coffee.

The Hogue menu of wines includes a wide variety of red, white and blush wines, and is widely available at grocery stores for between $7 and $10.

Reach reporter Matt Jackson at arts@dailyuw.com.

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