Until a recent trip to Washington, I had suffered from my private version of the Sideways Effect. I didn't really know very much about wine, but all that I knew was that I was not drinking any effing Merlot. While in Walla Walla, I had a couple of pretty good Merlots and decided that I might have been mistaken to turn my back on the varietal.
My mother-in-law bought us a bottle of 14 Hands Merlot while she was in town recently. The idea was to drink it while she was here, but we never quite got around to uncorking it. I've seen this wine at the grocery before, and have heard that it is pretty popular here. Being the snob that I am, I naturally assumed that this meant that it couldn't possibly be any good.
I drank this with a dish of Cappelachi, which is a yummy Italian pasta stuffed with pumpkin that one of our friends brought for us to eat while my wife recovered from a recent surgery. At first snort, I was mostly getting vanilla and a bit of butterscotch or caramel. The taste of this wine seemed pretty thin, especially when accompanying the pasta. In fact, when I drank it with the pasta, I hardly tasted the wine at all. I was initially very disappointed, but decided to give it another chance apart from the pasta. This definitely helped the wine a lot. When I drank the wine on its own, I could taste some plum and other dark fruit, and continued to get the vanilla and butterscotch, as well as some general oakiness.
All in all, I still found this wine to be a little thin, especially if you are trying to have it accompany anything with a very strong flavor. Maybe that's just all the Cab Sauvignon that I've been drinking recently talking. The flavor of this wine is good, and I can see why a lot of people like it. All things considered, I think that this wine is okay, but that there are probably better values in Merlot in that price point. I give 14 Hands a Friday the 13th rating of 85.