Folded Mountains Majesty (er, an A-rated wine from Aldi)

Dave returns (!) with a review (!!) of a beer from…well, duh, Aldi. Is it worth the money? Does it get a good grade?

Folded Mountains

Folded Mountains Pale Ale

Hello, sports fans. I’m back. (I won’t bore you with the gory details of my absence; suffice it to say I can now tolerate some libations. And I’m also visiting Aldi again.)

I thought I’d return to what made me happy about beer – the pale ale – and used the most recent trip to Aldi as an excuse. So let’s give this one a try: Folded Mountains Pale Ale. From Aldi. Did I mention I got it at Aldi?


In a word: Hoppy. That, to me, is a good thing. I want a pale ale that pushes the boundaries between hoppy goodness and IPA bitterness. (I have discovered, through years of research, that my own preference would be an IBU figure of about 45.) This one has to be right in that zone, I would bet.

Allow me to apologize for being wrong all these years. The correct term is “International Bittering Units.” I thought it was “Bitterness.” Oops. Metasip regrets the error.

My all-time favorite beer is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and this reminded me a ton of that. (Foreshadowing the eventual grade for this one.)


5.3% ABV. One is plenty for the aging beer-drinker with cluster headaches. (Brewed in Rochester, NY.)


If memory serves, I spent $6.99 on the six-pack.

Let’s talk about pricing for a second, not on this stuff, but on all ales. WHAT GIVES? I’m telling you, it’s like I took a break from drinking, came back, and everyone raised the price on everything. Why? Because they can? Because they should? Supply and Demand? The FDA?

Srsly, $10 is becoming about the norm for a six-pack of anything “craft brewed” – and I get it, you need to charge a premium, but I’m all like “whoa!”

Metasip Grade: A

Yeah, I’m going there. This is an A-rated beer, and I don’t care that we give out so few As and it’s been at least a year since I rated beer here. From the first sip to the last, this beer reminded me of Sierra Nevada, and that’s a really good thing.

Please go get some. Thank me later.


After Three Sips of This Beer, I Read the Label…and What I Found Shocked Me!

Another beverage knock-off from our friends at Aldi. But this one…

Boot Tread Amber AleWe’re back with another review of another beer – but we’re also having a little fun with this fact: Writing ridiculous headlines that ask people to click on a post can only work if you (1) have something interesting to say and (b) use too much hyperbole. So, while the real headline here should be something like “An Aldi Beer that’s 11 (or so) Ounces” or, more accurately, “Boot Tread Amber Ale Review,” we went with what’s called a “BuzzFeed-style Clickbait Headline.” Reality: After Three Sips of This Beer, I Read the Label…And What I Found Shocked Me!

Consider yourself an SEO test case. We’re gonna see how well this works.

Boot Tread Beer Review

Honestly, I picked this up because I was at Aldi and it was a “Belgium Amber Ale.” And it had a very “where have I seen that label before?” look to the bottle. (Hint: Fat Tire.) And the price was good – or so I thought! – leading me to say “what the heck?”


Closer to Blue Moon in taste – an assistant Metasip taster said “that is like Blue Moon, but hoppier” – I found it to be rather average, actually. Not even close to Fat Tire: too much of a wheat beer feel for me.


Again, wheat. If I had to guess, I’d put the IBUs at about 10 or 15.


Here’s where the “scandal” comes in:

11 point 2


Math: $6.49 for a 6-pack, 11.2 ounces per bottle, equals roughly 9.657 cents per ounce. OR, if this were a 12-ounce bottle, we’d actually be looking at $6.95 for a 6-pack.

Since Fat Tire is normally about $8.99 a six-pack, this is a value in comparison. (If you’re comparing to Blue Moon – price of that vs. Fat Tire is pretty much a wash.)

Why 11.2 ounces? No idea.

Metasip Grade: B

I wasn’t wowed by this beer, and found it too close to Blue Moon and not close enough to Fat Tire to fit into a nice, clean category. Were it a direct knock-off, like the last Aldi beer we reviewed, it would get a higher grade. But no.

After Three Sips I Read the Label…

Okay, what I found didn’t actually shock me, but it did have me question why there’s .8 ounces less per bottle than the norm.

San Zenone 2013 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

Another wine from Aldi?

Yes. We went there, again, with a wine from Aldi that, again, is worth every penny. In this case, the San Zenone 2013 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo – that’s a mouthful and we even neglected to identify whose Montepulciano it was in the video below – is worth all 499 pennies.

Here’s a shot of the bottle – which we altered because we like playing around with the photo settings, and also because it’s really tough to see the words “San Zenone” on the top of the bottle.

San Zenone Montepulciano

As is the case with this burgeoning video review industry of ours, you can either read up on what we thought below, or just watch the video. Hardcore fans – the ones following us on Twitter – should do both.

San Zenone Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Review

First up, it’s Italian – this scores points with us. Secondly, it has the “DOC” recognition (though not the cute little sticker, for some reason). Third, it’s from Aldi – so, since we trust the wine buyers there, it’s worth a shot. Right?


This smells, swishes, and eventually tastes like Italian wine. Big and bold. I’m thinking pasta already. I want to go to Italy right now, people.

But I can’t, so I’ll settle for the fruit and spice in this bad boy Montepulciano.


12.5% ABV. Imported from Italy. DOC designation.


$4.99 and I’m thinking that Aldi is carving out a tremendous little niche for itself as the value wine people near me. There’s a reason they advertised this last week, getting us ready for the Wednesday arrival; as a result, it was almost gone when I made a return trip. Good thing I bought two.

Metasip Grade: A-

We are a broken record – but it’s tough to beat the Aldi scores when they’re like this one.

Flirty Bird 2012 Syrah

Aldi: You don’t disappoint. You’re like the Triple Crown of Alcohol.

Let me explain what I mean there, and why Aldi’s Flirty Bird 2012 Syrah has a “Triple Crown of Alcohol” thing going for it.

Flirty Bird 2012 SyrahSee, you don’t want to spend too much, do ya? It’s okay to splurge, it’s okay to go buy a $50 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon if that’s your thing. But it’s not our thing – and we don’t think this site would have gotten the traction it has gotten so far if we focused on the $50 bottles.

But you also want something that DRINKS more expensively than it actually is.

This is why we focus on the three pillars to make up our Triple Crown: Taste, Profile, and Value.

It’s got to Taste good, that’s a given. But Profile is often overlooked – and that actually gets woven into the overall Metasip Grade. If the “profile” of the wine is “White Zinfandel,” then you have a certain level of expectation, right? (Cheap, watered down, flavorless, too sweet, etc.) And you would expect to pay…what…$6 for an enormous jug of the stuff?

Value, then, has a little something to do with Profile and Taste, too.

It would be easy to get an A grade here at Metasip if you had a dynamite White Zinfandel that tasted outstanding and only cost $1 for a bottle. But the odds of that happening are slim.

However, as you’ll learn in this review…the odds of Flirty Bird 2012 Syrah getting an A? Pretty good.

Flirty Bird 2012 Syrah Review


I was actually very impressed with this bold, dry, earthy Syrah. It took a few minutes – it needed to breathe – but once it did, it served as a great complement to steak. It was what you would expect from a big, bold Australian Shiraz, were you to pick one up from any of the Aussie providers. Read here for a review from the…unfortunately named…Terroirist website.

Sidebar: really, I know you’re trying to be cute over there, but it looks too much like a word that would get you on the NSA watch lists.

And, before we get back to the review, one other note. We can’t explain the difference between Syrah and Shiraz very easily, so let’s let someone from Popsugar do it. Here’s a link. Popsugar on Syrah vs Shiraz.

Anyway, this wine, IMHO, has a very Australian character to it…which segues nicely into the “Profile” section of the review…



Those extra exclamation points are warranted because – SHAME ON ME! – I didn’t actually read all of the label. I just saw “Syrah,” thought “Shiraz,” and said “cool! Australia!”

It’s from SPAIN.

This is totally unexpected. And a bonus, in my book, since I’m drinking something that has the profile you’d expect from Australia, but it’s not even from a country you’d expect to get THIS wine from.


$4.99. A jaw-dropping price.

Metasip Grade: A

Yes, that Triple Crown. Tastes great, an expensive profile, and a VERY affordable price. I’m buying more.


Grate Red Toscana Rosso

We should be working for Aldi. Yet another sub-$5 wine, this one a red that you can drink everyday.

Grate Red Toscana Rosso“Product of Italy.” That should tell us a little something about this wine.

But it doesn’t tell us enough – Chianti? Montepulciano? Something else? A blend?

Aldi Strikes Again with an Everyday Red – Grate Red Toscana Rosso

In this particular case, the red wine from Aldi is NOT going to be something you save for that special occasion. In the “everyday wine” category, however, this shines – with the goal (at least for me) of having something that can stand up for a couple days in the bottle, and won’t make you feel insanely guilty if you have to pour the remainder out.

Grate Red Toscana Rosso Review

This is a non-vintage red. (No year.) It IS from Italy, and, if you look in the lower left corner of the photo up there, you’ll see all officially Italian markings on the cork. Adding to the cool factor.


Can’t pin this down – not a ton of fruit, actually, but the nose is strong and there’s a bit of pepper on the finish. THIS has to be why they say “An Italian wine perfect for anything grilled.”

We had it, night one, with pizza and that was a-okay. (Even if the pizza did not come right off the Weber.)


Red wine from Italy. ABV 12.5%. If you know the grapes at work here, let us know. Seriously.


Again, where the above-average wine becomes worthy of the grade you’ll see below. Does this stand up to $30 bottles of Cab (like the Simi we reviewed this week)? No.

Is it an absolute steal at $4.99 at our local Aldi? Yes.

Metasip Grade: B+

Why a $3 Wine from Aldi Is Worthwhile

Breaking from the usual review format to weigh in on a trend: Value Wine from Aldi.

So we opened up something called “Winking Owl Shiraz” last night.

Winking Owl Shiraz

And we were quite impressed. More on that particular vino in a second, but first, let’s talk about Value Wine from Aldi.

Really…what are you waiting for?

I’ve done more than my share of in-store wine tastings, wine demos and wine marketing over the past several years. I know that people have different preconceived notions, and those can be summed up in a few nice bullet points:

  • “All box wine is swill”
  • “I only drink [insert brand name here]”
  • “Unless you pay $10 for it, it’s cheap and undrinkable”

Not everyone is like this, mind you – but these are the “Big Three.”

(Item Four: “I have to taste it before I buy it.” Since some stores can’t – or won’t – allow you to actually taste the stuff, and since not all brands will do “wet tastings,” this is also one of those barriers to expanding one’s palate that is tough to overcome. In other words, if you’re not willing to take a chance on a wine (or a beer or a new spirit), then you’re likely only going to rely on what stores pour, and you’ll miss out.)

I can’t help you with point one…yet. We’re reviewing the box wines soon. Promise. Stay tuned.

Point two…well, that’s part of the problem with the business, especially wine. The big brands – let’s use Santa Margherita’s Pinot Grigio as an example – pour tons of money into marketing. You come to expect finding it on the shelves, and seeing it all over the place, and it becomes, say, the house white. And it feeds off itself, so it appears that’s all you see.

We’re all creatures of habit – and I’ve done it for years myself with what I consider the best beer known to man, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It wasn’t until I thought to broaden my own horizons that I tried other things. And I’m glad I did.

So part of this rant – apologies – is to get you out of the habit of buying the same old stuff. And to get you, too, to broaden your own horizons.

Which brings us to point three – price.

I’ll only drink something that’s more than $10 a bottle.

Okay, then. But…what are you paying for, really? Are you paying for the wine itself? OR, more likely, are you paying for the marketing behind the wine?

Why IS “Two Buck Chuck” $2? And when is the last time you saw a Trader Joe’s billboard?

So, once you get beyond the fact that there may NOT be a ton of difference – even these days – between a $5 wine and a $50 wine, let’s talk about Aldi and its Winking Owl Shiraz.

Winking Owl Shiraz Review

At first blush, this wasn’t a typical shiraz. The nose was very shiraz-like, but it had a very peppery taste. At first.


It opened up after an hour or so, and we’re glad it did. Quite tasty, some fruit, but pretty dry. Good finish – blackberry, black pepper. (Label pictured below says “a hint of spice.” We agree.) Earthy as well.


Here’s where you just have to…well, throw caution into the wind. Bottle doesn’t say the alcohol content. Doesn’t say the year. In fact, it only says “California, USA.” Mmmmkay.


I will sacrifice the above profile information for a bottle of wine that is MORE THAN DRINKABLE and only costs THREE DOLLARS. In fact, I’d wager that this would be the second-best value out there right now.

(Want to know more about the best value? Click here: Lil Koala.)

Metasip Grade: B+

Yes, you heard me. This wine cost us $3 and gets a B+.

So…now that you know we’re partial to Aldi wines and not afraid of trying something that’s $3 a bottle…where are you gonna shop next? Or what crazy thing are you gonna try? Let us know!


Winking Owl Label

Vina Decana 2009 Tempranillo

It’s getting harder and harder to hide my love for Aldi wines. So I tried another one – and, Aldi Corporate People, I’ll keep reviewing them if you want to send them to me. Please.

Vina Decana 2009 TempranilloI heart the Tempranillo grape. But, if you didn’t know, I tend to be more partial to the off-the-beaten-path grapes like Temp, Montepulciano, Carmenere, and Malbec (which isn’t so out there anymore).

It’s very Spanish – in fact, it might be the quintessence of Spanish wine. (Moreso, IMHO, than Garnacha.) So much so that the last time we all went out for tapas, that was the grape. And the time before that, and the time before that.

I know people for whom the Vina Deana 2009 Tempranillo is indeed the house red. Should it be for you? Read the review and rock on!

Vina Decana 2009 Tempranillo Review

This is from Aldi.

I have to get that out there – and you can read all about quite a few other Aldi wines here on the Metasip site.

But one reason I have to say that up front is because some people will never try a wine because it’s from Aldi, and others will never try a wine because it’s under $5.

As the 12-year-old in this house would say…”Pish posh to you, sir.”

We found this for under $5 and liked what it did. “Full bodied.” At least if you believe the label. Opened up after a few minutes, and the second glass was better than the first.


It’s got a great nose, but not one that will burn your nostrils. Powerful, but not overpowering. Peppery. Some fruit – black cherry mostly – and stands up to food. (Served with…uh…Sloppy Joes and oven-fried potatoes. Don’t judge.)

I wouldn’t call it crazy-tannic, but there were some tannins.


This is a 2009 Tempranillo. Utiel Requena, Crianza – it’s got the official Spanish wine seal on it, so Aldi doesn’t mess around. ABV of 12.5% – yes, that seems like a low number in comparison to some of the more powerful reds out there.


Until I’m named the official wine critic of Aldi stores, I’m just going to keep banging the drum on the value you’ll get from just about everything in the store. We did not pay $5 for this, and it’s a great wine for the money.

It’s probably worth $10 or more a bottle.

Metasip Grade: B

Can’t go to B+ here, but that’s okay – the equivalent of an 85-point wine on other scales, but for less than $5? This could very well be your house wine for years to come.

Lil Koala Shiraz

Lil Koala ShirazIn the interest of (1) causing a stir, (2) going out on a limb and (3) getting mondo traffic to this site from the Aldi Shopper/Value Hunter/Inexpensive Imbiber crowd, I would like to make the following statement:

Lil Koala Shiraz is the best value in wine today. Better than Charles Shaw. Better than any other house brand. You should check it out. Seriously.

Hyperbole aside, this is darn good. I could ask for a couple things – like a year, and maybe a bottle that doesn’t look like – and remind me of – Yellow Tail.

Other than that, let’s break it down. To the review, mate!

Lil Koala Shiraz Review


Plum, blackberry, black cherry on the nose. Fruit forward. Maybe a little black pepper, too – so there’s a kick and it’s not overly fruity. (Bottle identifies it as “semi-dry” and that’s a fair assessment.)

We had it with Mediterranean Chicken, and it complemented the meal extremely well. I can’t get over it – it could be that my expectations were low because, again, I was reminded of Yellow Tail. Oh, and the price – see more on that below.

But this is a “can I have another glass?” wine.


100% Shiraz, though undated. 14.1% ABV. Semi-dry and “Full-bodied” (according to the bottle’s little slider meter thingy).


By the beard of Zeus – we got this for $2.98!

Okay, so it’s not going to drink like it’s $20 a bottle – but, and I welcome your comments here – this wine stands up to $12-$15 Shirazes.

(Plus, with what seems like a dearth of Australian wine at places like Costco, as we didn’t find ANY on a recent trip, this is worth snatching up.)

Metasip Grade: B+

We just gave a $3 bottle of wine from Aldi a B+. Yes, yes we did.

Note that on a recent Aldi trip, this wine had gone up in price to $4.79. Still, people – at $5, if it drinks like $15, can you see why we think this is the best wine value out there now?


Toca Diamonte 2011 Malbec

Toca Diamonte 2011 MalbecOne of the problems with Malbec over the past couple years: ubiquity. Read: this stuff is everywhere. And once it’s everywhere, everyone gets into the action, which can be a good and bad thing.

Behold, in all its glory, the Toca Diamonte 2011 Malbec. “En Union Y Libertad” is what it says on the bottle, which, loosely translated, pretty much says “five bucks.”

This wine – available only at Aldi in the US – offers a little from both categories. GOOD: it’s actually a decent value (actually not $5, but $4.99 last we checked). BAD: It does taste like an inexpensive Malbec.

Toca Diamonte 2011 Malbec Review:


Fruit. A little of that peppery nose you’d expect from a Malbec. Not a “fruit bomb,” though. Again, that’s both good and bad. This can’t really fall into any category other than “table wine.”


Medium alcohol content – 12.5%. All Malbec. Argentina – where, last we heard, they still have to irrigate.


You will hear people say “for five bucks, how can you go wrong?” Take that for what it’s worth – this is a table wine, could be an okay house wine, but is going to taste like you spent five bucks on it.

Metasip Grade: B-

Have you had the Toca Diamonte 2011 Malbec?

Let us know below if you had this wine – give it a rating of 1 to 5 stars.