The March Virtual Tasting tonight is Magnificent Wine Co.’s House Wine 2006. Magnificent Wine Company is a venture of Charles Smith of K Vintners and Charles Smith Winery. The 2006 House Wine is a blend of 54% Cabernet, 30% Merlot, 11% Syrah, 3% Malbec, and 2% Cab Franc.

In a variation this month, will be updating this post with running notes as I taste the wine rather than posting a single summary at the end. I encourage you to post your comments along the way as well.

Look for the first update about 7pm.

Also, make sure to vote on the April Virtual Tasting.

7:25 Update: Okay folks the bottle is open. Composite cork with no signs of leakage, medium color on the bottom. The bottle is at 65 degrees. I hung the bottle from a cloth Safeway bag out the third floor window of the apartment to bring it to a proper temperature. Sometimes I throw bottles in the fridge for 15-20 minutes if the bottle is warm to get the wine to the proper temperature. However, I prefer more moderate temperature transitions when possible. More to follow.

7:40 Update: Reasonably light in color. Some oak notes that seem to reduce quickly after pouring. The nose seems initially dominated by syrah aromas, including some smoky aromas and black currant. This seems to fade a bit after a few minutes.

Interestingly, the varietal listing on the website does not correspond to what is on the back of the bottle. Composition is: 73% Cabernet; 10% Merlot; 8% Syrah; 5% Sangiovese; 2% Malbec; 2% Cab Franc. It was the sangiovese that had originally got me interested in trying the wine when I saw it in the store. The wine is 13.9% alcohol.

8:10 Update: Fairly voluptuous mouthfeel. The taste has a lot of fruit but thins out a bit about two thirds of the way through. The syrah stands out on the taste as well which seems surprising given that it only makes up 8% of the wine.

On second pour, the syrah aromas show up again. After a time, black olive and dust also briefly show up. Overall I think this is an enjoyable wine for the money. I would give it a + in my rating system.

8:25 Update: Interesting note. My friend and I have different stemware that we are drinking out of. I am drinking out of a Schott Zwisel Forte Tritan glass and she is drinking out of a Riedel Ouverture glass. The aromas coming off these two glasses are about as different as I have seen.

Here is what Wine Spectator had to say about this wine. Note the lazy “others” by HS.

86 points. $10. Fresh, open-textured and distinctive for its peppery raspberry flavors that linger gently. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and others. Drink now. 65,000 cases made. –HS

8:35 Update: On third pour, some interesting new things have come out. A fair amount of white pepper coming through now as well as anise. The white pepper I had gotten hints of before but the anise is a bit new. BTW, I purchase this wine from Pete’s for $8.

8:45 Update: I have to say that this wine lives up to its name. It is the consummate house wine. While it retails at $10, it can frequently be found for about $8. Add in a six bottle or case discount and you are talking about a great everyday drinking wine.

In terms of food, didn’t do much in terms of pairing. Busted out some carrots and hummus that I had around the house. The hummus definitely did bring out some fun spicy components.

Okay, turning my attention to other endeavors for the moment. Final notes a bit later.

9:20 Update: One thing I didn’t note about this wine earlier is that, while the color was light, it did seem to have a very slightly aged look to it. Still magenta but with brown hints.

10:00 Update: Final thoughts for the night on the House Wine. I chucked this in the fridge for a bit to keep it cool and it dropped down to 61 degrees. At a cooler temperature, the wine seems even more syrah-influenced with lots of smoky aromas and even a gaminess that I haven’t noticed before on this wine. The mouthfeel is almost creamy at this temperature. There is a sweet aspect to the nose too.

Bottom line is that temperature and stemware have a HUGE impact on wine. What does this mean to you? Number one, if you don’t own some decent wine glasses, buy some. This is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your wine drinking experience. If you are looking for recommendations look here. In terms of temperature, I use a device from VinTemp. You don’t need to run out and buy a wine temperature gauge unless you are crazily obsessed with wine that is. But if you have a thermometer in your house/apartment, pay attention to what the temperature is and, assuming its above 65 degrees, chuck the wine in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before drinking it. Alternately, if it is in the winter time, put it outside for a while. I usually store wine outside while I am drinking it to keep it cool.