I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Millennial Central for Brancott Estate Wines. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
When I got home on Thursday night, my apartment was still pretty much a just-moved-in disaster. My dining room had been taken over by all the discarded boxes that I hadn’t yet broken down to throw away / give away, since I was waiting till I had unpacked all the boxes before breaking down any of them. (Obviously that was necessary to reduce switching time between tasks and also increase my productivity since I would batch process all of them at once.) My living room had no furniture to speak of – just more boxes and a few torchiere lamps without lightbulbs. And my bedroom was covered in stacks of (clean) folded clothes, since I decided that before I mixed in all my favorite clothes that I had been wearing for the last few months, I should clean out my closet and go through everything I had stored/shipped to see if I really needed it. Nothing like stopping one task halfway through to work on something else!
But by Saturday, I was actually pretty pleased with how my apartment looked. The furniture I picked fit perfectly (I was so glad I had gone with the library chair instead of the loveseat), all the boxes were broken down and temporarily stored in my den’s closet, and my fridge was fully stocked with charcuterie, cheese, and the most alcohol I have ever had in my possession at any one time. Even though my friends and I toasted liberally later that night, my fridge and liquor cabinet barely look like a dent was made. Time to throw another party!
Of course, part of the reason that I still have so much beer and liquor left over is that the focal drink for my housewarming party was actually wine. That was what several of my generous friends brought as housewarming gifts, and for my part, I recently partnered with Brancott Estate Wines and decided to make a little wine tasting game as part of our entertainment for the night.
I bought two Anchor Hocking Wine Carafes like this… except that for the same $5 price, mine had a little mini chalkboard on the front so that I could label them. Thanks, Walmart! (Sorry, I couldn’t find this version anywhere online but maybe if you check your local store you’ll get lucky.) I poured the wines to be compared in each one, then labeled them with “Pinot Grigio #1” and “Pinot Grigio #2.” Then, I just had to put the carafes out on the coffee table and encourage everyone to try some of each. Pretty easy!
I considered going fancy, like my friend Blake had done at her Christmas party last year, and printing up ballots for people to tally. Blake and her husband organized a great game where we had to guess which was the least expensive, most expensive, and average price of a group of three wines, and it was really crazy to see how mixed up people got! (I think I thought the $10 wine was the $100 wine, which just goes to show that the price of what you drink is really not the most important thing.) But in the end, for my own tasting game, I just went with an informal approach. I didn’t have very many people there to count (and besides, my scissors to cut the ballots were still lost somewhere in the boxes in my den), so I just asked everyone for a simple show of hands once everyone had tried each wine.
If I wasn’t asking people which was the most expensive wine, what were we voting on? Well, Brancott Estate recently released a new series of wines called Flight Song, which manage to have a full and crisp flavor while having 20% fewer calories than other similar wines. (They do this by harvesting their grapes earlier than usual, which reduces the sugar content.) A 5oz pour of Brancott Estate’s Flight Song series has only 88 calories compared to the normal 100-120 (depending on the varietal), and while that may be negligible when drinking by the glass, I will admit that there are some nights when I have more than one glass… and then it does add up 🙂 The two Flight Song varietals I got to try were the Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinot Grigio.
For comparison to the Brancott Estate wines, I sought other New Zealand wines of the same varietal, age, and price point. At first, this led me to Cupcake Vineyards, whose wines I have always enjoyed. But when I found the Cupcake Pinot Grigio, I discovered that the grapes had been sourced from Italy and would have a very different taste than the Brancott Estate Marlborough Pinot Grigio. So to get a closer comparison, I went with the slightly-cheaper Yellowtail (from Australia). Both the Brancott Estate and the Yellowtail were supposed to have notes of lemon and pear, so I figured that should help make the game a little bit more challenging. When poured, I noticed that the Brancott Estate was slightly lighter (in color) than the Yellowtail, and I hoped that wouldn’t give the Brancott Estate wine away as the lighter (in calories) choice.
When my friends tried both the Brancott Estate and the Yellowtail, they weren’t sure what to think – probably because I hadn’t done such a great job explaining the game. “Are we supposed to guess which one is more expensive? I pick #1.” (Hooray, that’s Brancott!) But the test was actually supposed to be which one people thought was the low-calorie alternative… and when I clarified that, my friends were split 50/50 on this decision. After everyone had sipped and voted, I revealed that #1 was Brancott Estate, and #2 was the Yellowtail. However, even those who correctly figured out that #1 was the lower-calorie alternative said that they wouldn’t have guessed that if I hadn’t told them, and that they’d gladly drink it anytime. Score one for Brancott Estate!
The second varietal that we sampled was the Sauvignon Blanc, and I pitted the Brancott Estate against a $12 bottle of Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc. The Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc was fruity without being too light – the winemaker describes it as having a grapefruit/passionfruit nose, and then a lemon-y taste. I thought this was a great description, because it was definitely crisp and refreshing. In contrast, the Cupcake had the same flavors, but was a bit richer. This time, most of my friends figured out which one was the lighter Brancott Estate wine, but again, we were really impressed that the Brancott Estate still tasted like “regular” wine. All of us agreed that the Brancott Estate still had an incredibly full flavor given how light in calories it was. I thought the blend was also the perfect blend of sweet and crisp… this would be a great summer wine to bring to a party or have while watching the Bachelor with your girlfriends. (You are missing out if you haven’t tried watching that show with a bottle of wine and some wonderfully snarky friends.)
So would I buy Brancott Estate’s Flight Song wines again? Considering I was able to easily find them in the wine/liquor store that’s 1/2 mile from my apartment and they were selling for the very reasonable price of $12/bottle, absolutely. The 20% reduction in calories may not be enough to make it into a “health drink” (ha, I wish!), but the wine tastes just as full as a traditional white wine, and the calorie savings does add up if you’re having more than one glass. I am all about the swaps that don’t cost you anything in flavor, and Brancott Estate has definitely found a way to do that with wine, which I will never give up drinking 🙂
Note: Brancott Estate provided me with product samples and a promotional item in exchange for this review. I received no other compensation for this post. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.