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I don’t want to be accused of being a one-trick pony like that forward that always moves to his backhand on a breakaway, yet when I am entertaining, I often rely frequently on the magic of a Portuguese red to get my evening started. To change the perception of those who are constantly craving red wines, a knuckle ball flutters over their palate with surprising effects. One of my summertime favorites is from Portugal—the Afros 2009 Vinho Verde tinto.

A bit esoteric, I’ll admit, and the bottle reinforces this with its inconspicousness and modern label running a standard two-toned color scheme. Also, affordably priced at fifteen dollars, it virtually repels the anti-cost wine buyer. Generally I’ll remove the bottle from the refrigerator (chilling it slightly), and create a cheese plate for acompaniment. Packed with the wizardry that I demanded, the red wine shows a gorgeous purple hue and has an unctuous core of black fruit mixed with earthy aromas, but it’s in the mouth that the wine is distinctly more inline with its counterparts from Northern Portugal. Somewhere between placing a Pop Rock on your tongue and licking a battery there is an initial shock of effervescence that subsides just after it has caught you off guard. Very quickly the sleek body delivers dark plums, violets, and organic topsoil in a smooth mouthful.  With devastating palate cleansing acidity, enough to make the cheese or charcuterie cower and give a pleasantly long finish to boot.

On heavy rotation this summer, I had found a curious red wine that I could serve that would surprise and delight my guests. As the season’s change I will lean more toward Bourgueil or Dolcetto but for the remaining warm weather in Los Angeles I will happily imbibe my stock of 2009 Afros Vinho Verde tinto—no matter how predictable the one trick proves!

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