Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Red Blend Wine Review: Apothic Red

Apothic Red 2009 | California

Usually I drink wine with food. I almost always eat food with wine. Sometimes, though, I like to have a glass of wine with nuttin’. In those cases, the “cocktail wines” are an ideal choice. And on this particular night, I wanted a “cocktail red” — something to sip on its own, that wouldn’t be too tannic, but have some richness and flavor. Oak wouldn’t be a major issue, because generally speaking, oak tastes good when food is not present. So I opened up this bottle, which was sent to me by a very nice PR person.

Apothic Red is a blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Merlot. It helps to know that, but I really do believe I can taste all three varietals in the blend. The nose is a pleasant, inviting blend of vanilla, butterscotch, red berries, and black cherry — for me, the butterscotch is dominant in the aroma. Strange, I know — since when does a red wine smell like butterscotch? When it’s been whacked with American oak (barrel or chips? who knows? who cares?). In the mouth it has sweet flavors of ripe raspberry, chocolate, maraschino cherry, and boysenberry syrup (like what you get at IHOP). However, it finishes dry, with a balanced level of mild tannins and puckering acidity. It was exactly what I was seeking on this particular evening. I’m not sure I’d try to match it with food — I don’t know where I’d begin. Maybe General Tsao’s chicken or a similarly sweet dish from the Chinese take-out menu? It’s not sweet like a Yellow Tail or Hob Nob wine, but it’s not all that far from it, either — I would say it is a good stepping stone from critter reds to more “serious” ones, because it does finish relatively dry and it has nicely integrated tannins and acidity. Without question, a crowd pleaser — bring it to your next party where people will be drinking wine as though it were a cocktail.

Find Apothic Red at a retailer near you using Wine-Searcher, Vinquire, or WineZap

Disclosure: I received this wine as a press sample


  1. My boyfriend and I enjoy the Apothic Red. I try to pick up a bottle when I see it, especially on sale. I was sipping some last night, trying to ‘get the taste’ of it, and all I could really come up with was ‘earthy’ in a pleasant, back-to-the-soil manner. Alas, my palate is a teeter-totter of “Like it” or “Don’t like it.”

    On the other hand, if you make your own wine and re-use bottles, the label can be a pain to get off.

  2. Please tell me that you meant ‘nothing,’ or even ‘nuthin.’ If not, that’s way too much info. Sometimes … less ‘hip’ is more hip.

    • Wow where is YOUR mind?

    • Yes, meant “nothing,” or “nuthin.'” The term “nuttin'” is a similar colloquialism that has been used extensively outside of this blog. My apologies if it confused you or put a negative image in your mind.

      • “Nuttin” is the Southern states variation of “Nuthin” which is the southern states variation of “Nothing.” By federal law, you must be a true Southerner to use “Nothin.” By law, you absolutely, positively must still currently reside in a Southern state to be allowed the use of “Nuttin.”

        My name is Bubba, and I approve this message aka PSA. .

    • Aren’t you being a bit picky. Where are you from anyway???? I live in Hilton Head. I thought “nuttin” was quite appropriate.

    • hellothere says:

      I like to have a glass of wine when I’m bustin’ a nut.

  3. I tried this wine with tomato and basil cheese, italian herb crackers, and vermont white sharp cheddar cheese (together and separate). It was delicious alone and with all of the above

  4. Angus Henry says:

    Spot on!. I honestly never tasted it in the sense of looking for flavors but the “butterscotch” hit me between the eyes. I love this wine dearly! So easy out of the bottle:)

  5. M ike Barrea says:

    I just bought a 2011 bottle at the supermarket simply after giving in to a free sample and reminding myself of your article earlier this year. Of course the oak door slamming in your face is the first element to hit you but then I realized I liked this fruit forward but not sweet poor man’s Prisoner. For a moment I thought it might go in the direction of a sweet vermouth ( that would be bad) but after the serious finish I realized it was more of a distant cousin to the juicy and “apothic” Amarones/Ripassos.
    I subsequently proceeded to decant the Apothic into a coke canteen and went to my favorite take out in the same shopping center ( groceries in tow) for a big old plate of Kung Pow Chicken…perfect pair! There would have been too much sweetness if it was paired with the Gen Tsao’s as you suggested but then some places use quite a bit of chilies and we would have a happy medium again!
    Thanks for the insight to try the Apothic,
    Mike Barrea

  6. It’s disgusting

    • Amen!!!! Just horrible!!!! It’s like one of these homemade wines in a plastic barrel from 20 years ago!!!

    • It is the most disgusting Red Wine I have ever had. I like Dry Red Wine and I will buy the cheap stuff once and a while. This wasn’t worth the $10 at all. I’m trying to figure out how to make it better tasting so I can manage to drink the rest

  7. This without a don’t is the worst wine I have ever tasted. I could see dunking this if I were incarcerated but that’s it. I had two glasses. One without food and one with spaghetti. Without food it’s horrible. With food at least the food kills the taste. I took one more sip after I finished my food and then dumped the rest down the sink. I’ve had much better $5.00 wines when I was in school. I will never ever buy anything from this company again.

    • Andre Minott says:

      What $5 wines are you talking about and where can I get some?It’s a $11 wine dude,do you even like wine?

    • You should stop smoking crack cocaine then. It is clearly ruining your taste buds.

    • Paul wrote this review when he saw the price tag before he tried it.

      • I seen this Wine on sale for $10, then a few weeks later $8. Now it is being sold for $6. I live in New York, not a place where there is a lot of stuff for cheap. This wine is obviously bad since the price keeps dropping

    • I thought it was a very decent tasting wine for the price. Actually very, very decent for the price.
      Will definitely keep in my wine cabinet.

  8. Great review. Everyone tastes something different in this wine. For me it was a bit of licorice. I agree that it stands on it’s own quite well. The only thing I could come up with to pair it with was vanilla ice cream.


  9. I love this wine. It is one of my favorite reds. I am not a wine critic, nor do I pretend to be be one. I have not got a bunch of money to spend so I look for inexpensive wines. To me, this is probably the best one for the money. For the people who find this wine disgusting, can you please tell me which wines you like? I am must curious because to me, to wine if very far from disgusting, but again, I like cheap.

    • I bought a bottle of the Apothic Red and absolutely hated it. I can’t speak for the others but wine snobbery played no role in my opinion. I’m still new to wine, and I have never

    • I just purchased a bottle of the Apothic Red and absolutely hate it. I can’t speak for the others but wine snobbery played no role in my opinion. I’m still new to wine and I have never paid more than $20 for a bottle. I usually drink Bordeaux. The bottles I usually buy cost 12-15 dollars. Someone recommended this brand due to my preferences. I’m not experienced enough to articulate what I don’t like about the Apothic Red. All I can say is that the wine had a very odd mouthfeel and an unpleasant flavor. It’s all a matter of taste. If you like it, that’s all that should matter.

  10. I love this wine. For me, it is one of the tasiest smoothest red wines. for the money. The white is delicious as well. For you people who find it disgusting, I would be curious to know what kind of wine you enjoy. I am not a wine critic at all,I just like something tasty and reasonably priced, and for me, Apothic fits the bill. I enjoy it by itself or with food..

    • I work at a Canadian duty-free and have had the opportunity to try many wines; from the bottom of the barrel to the very top. I appreciate all and any good wine. The store recently acquired Apothic Red to our inventory. I like Apothic Red a lot because it is a nice, purely ‘enjoyment’ -type of red: I often recommend it: A great wine just for a quiet evening with friends; served with good sharp cheese, fruit nuts. A red wine amateur will enjoy its various shades with mellow tannins…its just ….good.

  11. Nice wine for the $…

  12. I never really enjoyed the taste of wines before until I tasted Apothic. Now I can say I totally enjoy a small glass or two once in a while. I love the taste of it as you flavor it with every taste bud receptacle actively participating in this delicate tasteful treat. Matching it to known flavors may help others anticipate a feel for this liquid red, however, tasting it first hand is what made me a lover of this wine. Yes it is true with all things that this a matter a preference, and this wine found it’s prefered place with me.

  13. I never really enjoyed the taste of wines before until I tasted Apothic. Now I can say I totally enjoy a small glass or two once in a while. I love the taste of it as you flavor it with every taste bud receptacle actively participating in this delicate tasteful treat. Matching it to known flavors may help others anticipate a feel for this liquid red, however, tasting it first hand is what made me a lover of this wine. Yes it is true with all things that this a matter a preference, and this wine found it’s preferred place with me.

  14. This is the most disgusting gag reflex wine I have ever had. I can appreciate bottom shelf stuff like Barefoot, Redwood Creek, Redtree, Red Truck series I tried Apothic twice, first time at a N. Yrs. party and it tasted like a burnt liquid plastic / simple syrup meritage, and the four other people who tasted it before I dumped it out commented before me; it was undrinkable. Second time, it was still pretty bad, but the steak I was eating must have masked the plastic taste, it just tasted sickly cheap sweet. Another bad one like it is Evodia (Spain).

    • You lost me when you said ‘Barefoot’.. Barefoot and Apothic shouldn’t even be spoken in the same sentence. Your palate must be fried. I’ll be sure to try out Evodia as well. You obviously don’t like the taste of sweeter wines, and some of them are just as good.

  15. At its price point, the 2010 Apothic Red is a very enjoyable wine.

  16. I drank a 2009 bottle and it was great! With hints of vanilla and mocha!

  17. Personaly, the apothis red is an amazing wine. I can literally taste the entire blend. It is clear, sexy, and concise. I own a case as of tonight.

  18. snubby moosenuts says:

    haha vinojoe, i think the same damn thing, this is drinkin’ wine, not real wine.
    It’ does ‘zactly what it’s supposed to.

  19. We love this wine — we’re in Canada and wonder if anyone knows of a Canadian blend that tastes like this one… We try to drink local wines (Ontario) but have not found one like this delicious red and would like to.

  20. Simon Davies says:

    Just tried a bottle of this blend wine. It is the first blend wine I have tried, I have toured France and Italy trying various wines and must say, I find this wine very enjoyable. I admit, the idea of a blend wine didn’t sit well with me as I know the stigma of the blend whiskys, but I was happily surprised by the result. I am equally surprised that so many people find this undrinkable. Really? It’s not like it tastes of vinegar! Perhaps it’s just the blend that they dislike?
    Either way, you can definitely taste each of the 3 types of wine, each of which provide the nice flavours that should be found in them.

    As such, this wine delivers in providing a nice combination of flavours that is both easy to drink and at a very good price!

  21. This wine vies for the the title of “most disgusting thing I’ve ever had the extreme displeasure of having in my mouth”. Since it’s undrinkable, I did the unthinkable and dumped all but half a glass.

    • All but half a glass? Ahhhhh then it wasn’t totally undrinkable?
      I find it to be quite pleasant & not at all one of the “most disgusting things” I’ve had in my mouth.

  22. Some people just shouldnt drink.

  23. I’ve tried it several times. It definitely has allot of flavor, cherry. But like said in this and by a few commentators there is a dry volatile vinegar after taste. I wouldn’t say it was sweet, so I’m thinking my supplier just has old bottles. However I do like younger wines and when I close my eyes and imagine this younger I would definitely like it. So, I’m thinking if its a new bottle and you know it, go for it. However I would look out for this if your unsure how old the bottle is.

  24. Having only recently dared to venture into the world of drinking wine (other than Mad Dog 20/20 back in high school) I started out on the bargain wines. I was thoroughly disappointed almost each and every time. Hell, I thought if it had a fancy sounding name, it HAD to be good, right? I’m a bourbon kinda guy and I love the bourbons that have a mixture of flavor to them. My favorite bourbon that doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg is Buffalo Trace, although Woodford Reserve is my favorite overall. Apothic Red is my Buffalo Trace of the wine world. It is affordable and has a nice (an unexpected) blend of flavor to it. I can’t see how anyone could call it disgusting, although I know several friends who don’t like it. But, then again, they also like Wellers…

  25. Dean Smith says:

    I have tasted very expensive Reds and also tons of cheep Reds. What I think is special about this wine is the SMOOTHNESS !!! I do not like blends but was very surprised by this 2011 blend. It was very pleasant and surprising. I could distinctly taste all 3 blends. I could not taste any hint of plastic. The taste of vanilla, butterscotch, red berries,black cherry and a hint of chocolate. My opinion is this is a good wine that I would buy again. If you are looking for a cheep, smooth Red, this is it.

  26. I love this wine! Nice and smooth for a red!

  27. Frank Butcher says:

    I’ve been a red wine drinker for 25 years now and Apothic Red is my favourite wine (by a country mile) at the moment. I won’t let the snobs deter me from drinking it. They look down their noses at anything that’s popular and sells. I do have a sweet tooth however, so I can understand its not to everyone’s taste but I do believe it’s a much better wine than the detractors woukd have you believe.

  28. uck..and invited guest keep brining it as a thank you gift… I have re-gifted at least 4 bottles and still have 2. OMG I can’t give this stuff away… I have a funny feeling my friends might be doing the same; and re-gifting theirs to me.. ūüėČ I do not like it Sam I Am! Please make it stop… considering a note on my door that proclaims.. this is a non-Apothic consuming household. Don’t want to sound ungrateful.. We do appreciate the gesture but …. anyone want a couple of bottles. 8)

  29. it goes perfect with my girl. Enough said

  30. I tried a 2013 bottle and really liked it as a sipping wine while sitting in front of the fire. It was a gift from my son’s friend so I don’t know the cost but I think I’ll buy it if I see it .

  31. Apothic Red has to be one of the worse wines I have ever drank. The notes of vanilla and butterscotch are not notes I’m looking for in red wine. I would call this an infused wine and not by the natural aging or combination of different grapes.

    Caveat Emptor.

  32. I bought a bottle of red. Tasted like it had run through an old guys pair of dirty socks. Wow.

  33. I’m half afraid to try the Apothic Red after reading these reviews so I will take it to a party where someone might enjoy it. To Brenda try Franzia chillable red, I love it.

  34. I bought this because I was at Walmart and no much of a selection. My go to red wine is Pinot Nior, but they didn’t have any good brands. I can tell this a blend difrently taste the Zinfandel in it. I am going in beef bourgandy although it is not bourgandy it taste it litle similar. For me I think this wine would go best with toast beef or maybe lamb. I don’t see sweet general tsao chicken but it is worth a try. Maybe a hot a sweet dish or Kong pao i might pair well with.

  35. Richard Kelly says:

    Worst taste I ever had in my mouth.

  36. Great Wine! It was the hit at my pizza party. I bought a case for Xmas .


  1. […] sweet blend of¬† syrah, zinfandel, cabernet and merlot.¬† Smells like butterscotch, as pointed out here.¬† Taste-wise, it gives you caramel, dark blueberry, cinnamon, vanilla, and a bit of oak.¬† Hits […]

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