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

Red Wine Review: Hob Nob

Hob Nob wine wheelA full line of Hob Nob red wines were sent to me for review: Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir. They came in stylish, modern packaging including those dandy new artificial corks that are spongy and easy to remove. There’s even a snazzy website with a clever “spin the bottle” navigation format (though, being an old drongo it took me a few minutes to figure out how to find details about the wines; as it turned out, the details weren’t terribly useful to me — there were “matches” for “Mood”, “Music”, “Books”, and “Social Mastery”, as well as foods. Again, the drongo that I am can’t understand why Shiraz is “loud” and a match for the book Running with Scissors. But I digress …)

Instead of spending much more time letting the HobNob website make me feel old and un-hip, I moved on to the actual wines. I tried very hard to like them — I really did — but they just weren’t my style.

That doesn’t mean you won’t like them, of course, because wine is subjective and everyone has different tastes. And thank goodness for that, or we’d all be fighting over the same bottles of wine.

There was a distinct theme running across all four red wines: chocolatey, vanilla oak. Everyone likes chocolate and vanilla, so I understand why HobNob found a way to get that flavor profile into their wines. But for me it was a little too much, robbing the varietal character of the wines. In other words, if the wines were given to me “blind”, I probably would not have guessed which was Pinot, which was Cab, etc. — they all tasted more or less the same. There was a strong oaky vanilla and chocolate flavor in all of them, with the bare hint of the varietal somewhere in the background. Additionally, the structure was out of balance — the wines were on the fat side (meaning, they lacked acidity) and had soft tannins. These attributes are fine for a “cocktail wine” — i.e., a wine to drink during cocktail hour at a bar or party, and without food. And for that purpose, these wines are perfectly suitable, particularly for people who are newbies and moving their palates from thick microbrews to the wine scene. But once food is introduced … well, I’d have to switch to something else.

That’s not to say that Hob Nob wines should be avoided. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a significant portion of the population that will appreciate these wines. The price is right (under ten bucks). And again, I think they are a great bridge from the chocolate stouts and mocha porters. Wines like this are excellent introductions for people who think wine is “sour”, “bitter”, or “sharp”.

Does that make me a snob?

Let me know in the comments … and also, please share your opinion of Hob Nob wines.

Oh and by the way, these wines are from France — Languedoc, specifically. I never would have guessed that based on the packaging and marketing. They seem to be trying very hard to be un-French.

The Hob Nob website

Use the links below to find Hob Nob wines at a retailer near you:

Hob Nob Cabernet Sauvignon
Hob Nob Merlot
Hob Nob Pinot Noir
Hob Nob Shiraz


  1. I haven’t tried the Hob Nob wines, but I was interested to read you review and hear that they are from the Languedoc region. The French-Australian Chamber of Commerce organised a trade event “A Taste of the French Terroir” in Sydney a couple of weeks ago, and I tired quite a few wines from Languedoc-Rousillon. I was very impressed with the wines of Gérard Bertrand. He is one of number of leading producers who have lifted the standard of wines coming out of what is the largest wine producing region in France. It is now arguably one of France’s most exciting and best value wine regions.

    The Hob Nob wines seem like the French equivalent to the Aussie Yellow Tail. Good quaffers but not wines to try if you want to get a real taste for the growing potential of the Languedoc. But as their website highlights terroir is obviously not something they’re trying to sell!

  2. Merrill, thanks for the tip on Gerard Bertrand; I will seek out those wines.

    Yes, I would agree 100% with your comparison to Yellow Tail. Simple, easy drinking, slightly sweet crowd pleasers that are more “beverage alcohol” than “wine”.

  3. We tasted the Shiraz & the Pinot from Hob Nob at a Party, and have to agree with you fully about your observation. Both wines were almost similar flavor profile and had difficulty keeping track as to what was in our glass. Hob Nob tries to appeal to the Millennial’s and for under $10 it is a quite smart approach.

    • Judit, thanks for the comment. I have to agree — clever marketing on Hob Nob’s part. And they definitely have an audience that appreciates this style.

      BTW just added WineDineTV to my blogroll — really enjoyed the “How to make Limoncello” video and looking forward to trying it myself this summer!

  4. I’ve been buying Hob Nob Pinot Noir with the new lids and I am
    having a lot of difficulty opening them now without the corks.
    Any advice?????

  5. I’m having a very difficult time up the new caps on Hob Nob Pinot Noir. It almost makes me want to change my favorite everyday Pinot. Please help. Maybe you should go back to the old cork.

  6. I’m having a very difficult time up the new caps on Hob Nob Pinot Noir. It almost makes me want to change my favorite everyday Pinot. Please help. Maybe you should go back to the old cork. I agree with Barbara, above.

    • I haven’t tried the HobNob since this review so not sure what the issue is with the new corks. I’m assuming the corks are synthetic and tightly fit, in which case you might want to try using a different cork removal tool, such as a Screwpull, Metrokane Rabbit, or an “Ah So”.

  7. I love Hob Nob Pinot Noir. It is smooth, tastes great and have been enjoying it for over a year now. Think it is much better than the main stream Pinot Noir on the market today. I love red and enjoy the expensive ones from time to time. Have travelled to that region in France as well as others and have had many glasses throughout the country and in Italy. It’s a great inexpensive Pinot Noir. Love the label and sentiment behind it. Enjoy!!

  8. I bought it today to have with smoked gouda. The wine left a metallic taste in my mouth!

  9. We received the 2009 Malbec as a bonus from our wine club. It does have a vanilla nose, but we aren’t noticing the chocolate that you noticed in their other wines. It’s much what I expect from a Malbec: rich some fruit and a nice acidic balance.

    Just because a wine isn’t smothered in tannins doesn’t make it a “beverage.” Too many of the French snob wines really aren’t palatable unless you are hiding the tannins with a big mouthful of food.

    Too be fair, we just might have to try one of Hob Nob’s other varietals. Until then, we will enjoy our last bottle of the Malbec.

  10. Jae Ranschaert says:

    I discovered Hobnob Merlot in 2006 and enjoyed it until the last year when I was unable to find it in the phoenix area. Once again it appeared and I was delighted. However, the corks have turned into twists and seriously, the Merlot does no longer have that full bodied amazing taste. So sad. So very sad. When I am at home in Canada I will no longer long for Hobnob.
    Happy New Year Everyone

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