Apothic Inferno

California Red Wine Blend, aged for 60 days in Whiskey Barrels: Set your TasteBuds ENFUEGO

You know when you’re at the checkout counter and you throw a candy bar in your basket just because? Well, my total impulse buy happened in the wine aisle at TJ’s last weekend. Fire-laden label aside, I read the words “aged in whiskey barrels,” and was immediately intrigued. Now I know this isn’t a totally new concept — even Robert Mondavi has a reserve red aged in bourbon barrels. But, like I said, I was there, this was there: Monkey see, Monkey sip.


Now, I’m not going to lie, this was a major risk buying this wine. I’ve had Apothic Red: super love it. I’ve had Apothic White: eh, not so much. So which way was this pendulum gonna swing?

About the Wine: The Apothic series comes out of Modesto California and, true to all Apothic wines, this is a blend. And, just like with every other blend in the series, the exact varietals used remain a mystery. But, what we do know is that these California grapes were whiskey barrel aged for 60 days.

15.9% ABV

Flavor Profile: Open the bottle and straight-away a smokey aroma escapes. The pour is pretty — a garnet red that catches the light like a gem. Stick your nose in the glass and you can’t help but smell it. The whiskey. Whoa. But if you can move past that (swirl, move your nose from the lower lip to the upper lip), you’ll find there are “normal” wine characteristics as well. Deep, dark fruits like black grapes, overripe blackberries and boysenberries, and a hint of tart cranberry are all primary scents. Secondary aromas, believe it or not, are a bit floral — but a dried floral arrangement (like potpourri).

Yes, there’s a lot going on in just the scents alone, and, for me, this made it hard for me to gage just what was going to happen on the palate.

Apothic Inferno attacks the tongue with strong whiskey-like characteristics: caramel, maple, fresh cut cedar. Ok, but let’s move past that. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to do, those whiskey flavors are so intense, but if you have some patience, you’ll find a bit more to this red wine blend.

Secondary flavors are strong with plump red fruits: red cherries, those overripe boysenberries, maybe just a hint of those tart cranberries all come out during the mid-palate.

The finish is what’s interesting. I dare say, this mystery red blend has a bit of complexity to it. As the taste concludes, there’s that dried flower bouquet leaving your breath with a hint of black tea flavor. It’s almost…pleasant. But that isn’t the finish. This wine has a grand finale and it is hot. As in, alcohol. It’s pricks the tastebuds, coats the throat, and warms the belly — and, actually, it does kind of leave a burning sensation in the mouth.

Honestly, the total experience with its sweet start, berry middle, deceptively calm aftertaste, but completely hot finish — it’s almost like taking cough syrup. So is that good? Bad? After opening and assessing our initial tastes of Apothic Inferno, my partner in wine crime asked, “Do we have to drink it?” No. Absolutely not. Don’t drink anything you don’t want to. Ever. Life is way too short to drink something you don’t enjoy. But I think this wine can be enjoyed if you like this level of intensity. I think it has a time and a place, and it’s certainly something you have to be in the mood for.

Food Pairing: Don’t. Just don’t try to pair this wine with food. This makes a great party wine to be served with random snacks or as an after meal comfort drink. But I wouldn’t try to plan my dinner around this one.

More Info: If you haven’t read my review of Apothic Red, please do so. That is a wine I regularly buy and can plan a meal around.

According to the bottle, Apothic Inferno is a small-batch, limited release, which explains why I had such a hard time finding it. I found Apothic Inferno at Trader Joe’s (Price: $10.99).

For more information about the Apothic series, please do visit the Apothic website.

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