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Celebrity Wine Taste Test: How Do Dave Matthews, Banana Republic And More Stack Up?

First Posted: 10/25/2011 8:23 am   Updated: 03/23/2012 4:12 pm

'Tis the season for new wines with bizarre partnerships, apparently. We've noticed a crop of recent arrivals from either musicians or large corporations hoping to get in on the wine game. Is it worth buying Train's Drops of Jupiter wine? What about Food Network wine? Banana Republic? It's a hard job, but somebody has got to taste them. That's why HuffPost Food enlisted Ray Isle, the Executive Wine Editor of Food & Wine, to help us navigate these new wine breeds.

We sipped, savored but actually mostly spit. In the slideshow below, find out which wines are worth buying and which ones you're better off saving your money on.

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  • Train, Drops Of Jupiter

    Apologies for getting the song stuck in your head again. This summer, <a href="" target="_hplink">Train released Drops of Jupiter wine</a>, a 2009 Petite Syrah. The jammy wine was oh-so-slighty more complex that many of the others we sampled. Ray offered that this one was at least a "two-note wine." It's a cheerful, happy wine. In other words, if you had to put a pop song into a wine, this would be it. Coincidence? We think not.

  • Food Network Entwine

    Earlier this year, Food Networked partnered with Wente Vineyards to release <a href="" target="_hplink">Entwine</a>. The wines, which all retail for $12.99, were all perfectly drinkable, but often one-note and without much depth. They are beginner wines, or wines for when you don't want to think too much about what you're drinking. Although the only compliment Ray had for the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was that it was "not flawed," the other varietals improved from there. The 2009 Merlot was a "happy-go-lucky, fruity wine" with very low astringency. In the same vein, the 2010 Pinot Grigio was also sweet and fruit-forward. The Chardonnay, however, was the belle of the ball. We tasted four Chardonnays and this one (2010) was deemed the unanimous winner...of a pretty weak pool.

  • Dave Matthews, Dreaming Tree

    For those of you rusty on your Dave Matthews Band knowledge, the 1998 album "Before These Crowded Streets" included the song, "The Dreaming Tree." Made in partnership with winemaker Steve Reeder and Constellations Wines, Dreaming Tree Wines (all $15.00) are available as a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010 Chardonnay, and red wine blend titled "Crush." Overall, the Dave Matthews wines were some of our favorites of the whole crop. Crush (2009) was a bit on the sweet side, but the Chardonnay was decent and the Cabernet Sauvignon was downright good. It had some nice layers to it and several of us said we would purchase it for our own collection.

  • Banana Republic

    Banana Republic has teamed up with Clos du Bois to release two limited-edition holiday wines, <a href="" target="_hplink">available for purchase</a> starting November 1. Although we can appreciate the lovely silhouette sketches on the label, these wines prove that Banana should stick to what it knows best: clothes. The 2010 Chardonnay ($16.99) was fairly typical of other California Chardonnays -- very oaky with a bit of a banana aroma. It could have been worse, but it could have been way, way better. The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($18.99) could maybe work with a big steak. When there are notes of wet leaves, there's just not so much salvaging one can do.

  • Disney Sogno d'Italia

    Disney sells its brand new Sogno d'Italia wine, made by Placido in Tuscany, <a href="" target="_hplink">exclusively in Disney Parks</a> for $6 per glass or $16.95 by the bottle. On the 2010 Chianti, "You wouldn't be unhappy if you weren't paying attention," Ray observed. The 2010 Pinot Grigio was similarly "pleasantly nondescript," and was in fact the best of the three Pinot Grigios we sampled.

  • Bonus! Ron de Jeremy Rum

    "That's actually pretty good rum...It is kind of disconcerting that it's good." said Ray. Enough said.


Filed by Carey Polis  |