By Robert Paul –
Given the far-reaching vine-like tendrils sent forth from the Food Network starting with food and lifestyle programming and progressing to product endorsements, books by their top tier chefs and designers, special events staged around the nation, products for home and table and much more, it came as no surprise to us wine writers and oenophiles that the Food Network has come out with a wine. The label says Entwine. How appropriate.
Entwine is a supermarket wine, nicely priced at about $12 (when not on sale) making it quite compatible with budget-conscious wine buyers looking for an everyday wine to serve with dinner or take on a picnic. Entwine comes in merlot and chardonnay. More blends and single grape wines are probably on the way.
I purchased bottles of the merlot and chardonnay for Flavors And More and was happy to do a taste evaluation. The bottles were prominently displayed in a stand-alone section of my super market. So their distributor obviously vied for prominent placement of this new offering. Both wines proved to be satisfying accompaniments for our evening meals.
The chardonnay was NOT over-oaked and, therefore, it paired favorably with our chicken picata. Happily, it did not have that telltale cloying buttery vanilla flavor that destroys food compatibility. The Entwine merlot accompanied a beef tenderloin served as 1 ½” steaks. The berry flavor, enough acidity, and firm structure allowed it to work quite well with this dish and at this price, it’s a reasonable choice.
The fact that the Food Network has partnered with Wente Vineyards, “America’s oldest continuously-operated family owned vineyard” is part of the reason for this positive result. Wente has long produced better than adequate wines at competitive price points. So, this may be a win-win result: Wente produces and sells more wine and the Food Network extends its brand and increases its profit potential.
However, my hunch is that this marriage may not persist on a “happier ever after” note. The reason is that this is a highly competitive niche (price point) in the wine market. Since there are a number of established wineries using their own names to compete and sell wine, the Food Network has no particular claim on wine excellence nor on consumer loyalty.