Blue Apron Wine December 2018 Subscription Box Review

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Blue Apron Wine is a subscription for people who love trying new wines as much as they love great food. You may be familiar with the Blue Apron Meal Delivery Kit subscription, which sends boxes of fresh ingredients to make exciting meals at home. The wine subscription is separate from the meal subscription, but it’s designed to complement it.

Here’s how it works: every month, for about $11 per bottle ($65.99/month, including shipping and tax), Blue Apron sends you 6 bottles of wine, plus tasting notes and pairing recommendations. The wines are selected to pair perfectly with the meals in the Blue Apron kits. The bottles are 500 ml, or 2/3 the size of a standard bottle, which, in addition to being adorable, means that you and your dining partner can enjoy your entire bottle with your meal without regretting that additional glass needed to finish a standard-sized bottle.

Blue Apron pairs with wineries around the world to bring a wide range of new and interesting wines to you each month. I love wine, and I love food, and I love everything about the idea of this subscription.

The packaging is great and keeps everything snug and secure. It also serves to make cats taller, which is important.  Keep in mind that someone 21+ will need to sign for it. Everything is in great shape when it arrives, and the packaging is, happily, recyclable cardboard.

Blue Apron Wine allows you to select your wines–you can go all white, red, or mix it up. There are lots of choices, and it’s easy to change it to suit your mood or meals of the month.

DEAL: You can try out your first box of Blue Apron dinners for $30 off with this link.

If you’re wondering what a 2/3-sized bottle looks like, here is one of the bottles with a standard-sized bottle next to it. You’ll get about 3 1/2 standard glasses in a bottle, or a generous pour plus a top-off each if you’re with a partner.

Each box comes with a great collection of tasting notes. Blue Apron tells you a little bit about the winery and how the bottle was made, plus the region at large. Because come on, you didn’t REALLY know where the Central Coast was, did you? The info details the color, body, and structure of the wine, and also gives some thoughtful food pairings for each bottle. The info is terrific – wine is not scary, and tasting it should be fun and informative. Data is your friend.

It’s December!  There’s no better cure to early-onset darkness than a fire and a glass of wine.  Also, hearty Mediterranean food, like chickpea stew or cacio e pepe.  And what better to drink with Mediterranean food than Italian wine?  Or, sometimes, Italian-ish.  Let’s give it a whirl.

In the theme of Italian-ish, we have our first white, the 2017 Birichino Malvasia Bianca.  Malvasia Bianca is definitely a Mediterranean wine, but this particular version comes from the Central Coast of California.  MB is a bright, aromatic wine, a bit like a fruity Sauvignon Blanc or a Gewertztraminer.  It can lean dry or sweet, but either one smells like a bouquet of peach blossoms, like some stunning Italian orchard where you’re escaping winter.

The Birichino is very pale yellow in the glass with a typically strong fruity/floral aroma.  The body is a tad heavier than you’d expect for the color.  The mouthfeel is a bit heavy, too, and has a oiliness to it that is characteristic of Malvasia Bianca.  The flavor hits you with sweet fruit and citrus, but the sweetness evaporates as you swallow, leaving a clean acidity behind.  This is a tasty, well-balanced wine.  It would be great in the backyard in the summer, or in front of that fire while you fondly recall summers past.  Try it with something spicy, like red curry or Thai food.  Cool but not icy for this one.

Our second white is another Italian varietal from California (Lodi this time), the 2015 Uvaggio Vermentino.  Vermentino is another of those lovely aromatic Italian whites, like the Malvasia Bianca, but this is like MB’s sterner older sister who will cut you with a deft phrase.  Vermentinos typically have a strong mineral component that can leave a bitter finish.  The Uvaggio is bright yellow with a light body and mouthfeel.  The nose is more restrained than the Birichino, and the flavor is like a bowl of citrus, with notes of orange, lime, and grapefruit.  That characteristic mineral finish dries everything up, but the Uvaggio has a tiny bit of oak-aged wine in it, which eases the bite without adding any off-putting vanilla notes.  We had this with scallops in butter, which was outstanding, but it would also be great with chicken tacos, or even an omelette.  Drink this one cold.  Thumbs up.

Our last white is an Italian varietal that actually comes from Italy, the 2016 Griolamo Grillo.  I didn’t know anything about this varietal, which is one of the best things about Blue Apron Wines–I get to try completely new wines without risking a whole bottle.  Grillo is an old varietal that is having a bit of a resurgence.  It’s fragrant, fruity, but with more body than the MB or Vermentino.

The Girolamo is light yellow in the glass with a lighter body than I was expecting after I read about Grillo.  The nose is all lemon, but the flavor has an undercurrent of sweetness that tempers the acid but also dulls the power of the wine.  The tasting notes describe a basil element, but I didn’t find that; an herbal finish would have been welcome to this wine, which just didn’t pop like I wanted it to.  We had it with pesto pasta, (hoping for that basil), and it was fine but nothing spectacular.  Drinking it colder might have lightened up the fruit.  Just so-so here.

We stay in Italy as we move on to the red wines.  First up is one of my favorite Italian varietals, the 2016 Antico Monastero NebbioloIf you are not friends with Nebbiolo yet, you need to get acquainted because it is delicious.  It’s a light-bodied and colored red, but that ruby color conceals what is usually a giant dose of tannins and leathery structure.

The Antico is more garnet than ruby, and has a restrained nose of dark berry.  The flavor leads with fruit, but it quickly drops out to floral notes and finishes with a bare hint of leather and a nice tannic bite.  We put a little chill on it per the tasting notes, and we enjoyed how the wine changed as it warmed up in the glass.  It got fruitier and the leather became more pronounced as the chill eased.  We went full-on checkered tablecloth with our meal and had this with eggplant parm.  It was perfect.

Our next red is another fun Italian varietal, the 2014 Ombra del Tempio Nero d’Avola.  Nero d’Avola is a classic red grape that, like MB, is having a moment.  It’s similar in profile to a Cabernet Sauvignon–fruity but dry, with an herbal backstop.  It’s also usually a good bargain, because Americans don’t know much about it.

The Ombra del Tempio is a lovely dark fuchsia in the glass with a strong nose of cranberry.  Its body is a little heavier than I expected, but it doesn’t have that furry quality Pinot Noirs have, so it doesn’t linger on the tongue.  The cranberry flavor leads, with a nice herbal component that finishes quickly with moderate tannins.  This was a little leaner than typical (a 13% ABV), probably due to the stainless cask aging.  I enjoyed this, but it wasn’t incredibly memorable.  We had it with black bean chili, but it would also be lovely with anything red-sauced.  Cool room temperature here.

Last up is a wine that has nothing to do with Italy, and everything to do with me being excited to see it again.  I have reviewed the 2015 Venge Vineyards Scout’s Honor Proprietary Red before, back in 2017.  Since then, a friend gave me a full-sized bottle (these average $30, so a good bargain in the Blue Apron box) as a hostess gift, and I drank it with my brother and sister-in-law at the pool with the kids tearing around until 10pm.  This brought me right back to a great summer night.  That’s what wine is all about!

As I’ve said, Scout’s Honor is huge, dark purple in the glass, with a strong nose of jammy dark fruit.  It has a giant body and big ABV to match, at 15.3%.  It finishes smoothly, with notes of smoke and vanilla.  This is not at all my preferred style of wine, but I can appreciate a perfect exemplar of the style.  Cool room temperature here, with something awesome, like a mushroom-swiss burger or ribs.  Cheers to 2018!

And that is our December! Lots of Italian wines, plus a vanity pick for me.  Lots of interesting varietals and wines to enjoy with friends and family as we celebrate the end of a year.  Speaking of the end of the year, Blue Apron has some party ideas for you below:

By the way, Blue Apron has an easy system for pairing its wines and its food subscriptions, somewhat like you might have seen in nicer grocery stores — the wines are categorized by type (crisp & minerally, plush & fruity, etc.) and then that symbol shows up on the food recipes. Pair any wine of the recommended type to the food, and voila — you have a great meal!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you and yours!  Have you had any great wines at parties this month? Tell us in the comments below!

Visit Blue Apron Wine to subscribe or find out more!

Blue Apron Wine

Six Premium Wines, Delivered Monthly. Take dinner to the next level with incredible wines, hand-selected to pair perfectly with Blue Apron Meals.
We work with acclaimed vineyards to bring you top-quality wines at winery-direct pricing. From fruity California reds to crisp Washington whites (and everything in between), our incredible wines are exclusive to Blue Apron.

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