Would you buy a bottle of wine you’ve never tried before that has the word “Cupcake” on the label?

I did. It’s called Red Velvet, a 2012 California wine produced by Cupcake Vineyards. As with so many wines, it has a beautiful and enticing label — this one predominantly red, of course. And the description on the back label is no less enticing, with such phrases as a “heady nose of chocolate, deep rich blackberries, red fruits and a creamy mocha finish.”

Red Velvet's descriptive wine label by Cupcake Vineyards.
Red Velvet’s descriptive wine label by Cupcake Vineyards.

Yumm . . . My tastebuds are going wild already, and I haven’t opened the bottle yet. I’ll be drinking it tomorrow night with my g/f and a friend, and I am hoping it lives up to what the label promises.

Indeed, when we buy particular wines for the first time, we often have little to go on, unless we have read a review by a wine critic. We pretty much have to rely on the label’s description.

So, in this year of California wines — in which I have determined to sample as many as possible from that beautiful state — I am focusing on wines that at the very least provide some sort of summary on the label. Sadly, some vineyards don’t bother to give taste previews on the label — so I am avoiding them because my experience with that sort has been disappointing, as if the companies producing them are saying: “If you don’t have something good to say, say nothing at all.”

Of the vineyards that do take the time to describe the flavours you will taste when you drink their products, I am finding the descriptions to be pretty accurate. For example, Revolution Red is described as having bold flavours, and indeed, they are bold. It’s one of my fave California wines, right behind Barefoot Shiraz in my top 10.

So, I have high hopes for Cupcake’s Red Velvet. It cost almost $16 at the SAQ (a provincial government-sponsored liquor commission outlet), which is almost $5 more than the Barefoot.

But I have also learned that higher prices don’t always mean a better product. My g/f brought over a bottle of French wine recently that cost her in the mid-$20 range, and it was awful — like a weak cherry drink. And the winemaker didn’t provide a description of it on the bottle . . .

How about you? Do you find that wines generally live up to their taste descriptions on the labels?

— Jillian