Sometimes when I buy wine, I play this little game I call “Under the Covers.” The object is pretty obvious and simple: Look long and hard at the labels of the brands you're not familiar with and see if you can figure out how the wine will taste. The more colorful the outside, the heartier the beverage, and vice versa, or at least that's the idea—kinda like trying to detect a blind date's level of sophistication by smelling her perfume, but without the universal disappointment.
So it was that I bought a bottle of the 2006 Pinot Grigio out of the Kennedy Family Vineyards the other day. I was in the mood for something really modest and light, and this nondescript little label surely hinted at the inoffensiveness within (if the peeps at this Middletown, Calif., vintner ever decide to go into the graphic arts, they'll starve). For about 10 seconds, this entry was everything its label cracked it up to be—then, with absolutely no warning, that crack morphed into a tectonic fault. The spectacular sensations of apple and pear exploded on my tongue with all the force of a class-2 hydrogen bomb, and I swear they did not let up until the next afternoon. The aftertaste was so strong that I put away the companion chocolate and cheese—ruining the wonder of this moment with food would be like smothering a fireworks display with sand. Even over ice, there's no holding this one back.
This isn't a wine so much as a chemistry experiment, but for the price ($6.99 at most places), it's very good. Hard to figure how something so innocuous packs such a persistent wallop, especially one so cheap. The answer probably lies in the company's top-heavy apportionments. God knows the suits don't spend a farthing on their packaging.