Restaurant Reviews

5 Wines That'll Blow Your Mind

We asked Michael Housewright, the self-described "head wine nerd" at Max's Wine Dive, to let us in on his wine-buying philosophy. He responded with this stream-of-consciousness-style narrative that sent us running to the nearest wine store.

Michael Housewright: At Max's, we tend to focus on the irreverent side of wine consumption in a "Wow! I never thought of pairing this wine with that food!" style. Like most silly wine nerds, I take it all too seriously at times. And then some nutcase wine dude from some crazy place like Alto Adige tells me that happiness is simply being in love with life and drinking fondly with friends. And I think, "I sure love those Euros." Now, about those mind-blowing wines: Under $15

2006 Care Rosé

Carinena, Spain

Rosé is all about front-porch pre-dinner pump priming, or bedtime snacks. This is a blend of 50 percent Tempranillo and 50 percent Cabernet, but who cares what the hell the grapes are, this is rosé. This wine is super-refreshing, not candy cane-fruity. Don't fear the pink.

$30 or less

2005 Markus Molitor Estate Riesling Kabinett

Rhineland, Germany

Okay, folks, you like spicy food and margaritas, why not spicy food and Riesling? Sweet wine is okay — really — as long as it has the acid to balance the sugar. This is an old-school Riesling with pretty peach and lime zest aromas. Crisp and perfectly balanced, it goes great with the spicy foods we all love these days. I get preachy about Rieslings because more of them should be consumed — with 1,000 years of winemaking in Germany, you think they might know a thing or two?

$60 or Less

2003 Balbium

Calabria, Italy

Say it with me...BalllbeeeeYUMMM! It's a huge, complex and very serious modern wine made from the ancient and linguistically challenging grapes of Gaglioppo and Magliocco. This stunning wine is the old Roman Empire's answer to the "big Cab." Serve it with some well-marbled meat, or cheese gnocchi, and watch it knock the pants off of all your Cabs and Merlots. Caesar knew great wine, and he drank Balbium.

$120 or less

2004 Torbreck Descendant

Barossa Valley, South Australia

From one of the three best wineries in Australia, Torbreck's Descendant is a blend of Shiraz and Viognier "descended" from their flagship wine, RunRig. Let's put it this way: I had the great fortune of tasting Marcel and Philippe Guigal's 2003 La Turque Cote Rotie, and the 2004 Descendant is more elegant, more mineral-driven and simply a better bottle of wine to consume in 2007. I know some of you out there will think I am nuts, as the 2003 Guigals are hyped beyond belief, but I am right. One of the most sumptuous and elegant bottles of wine produced on the planet today, this is genius winemaking and a gift from Dionysus.


2001 Greenock Creek Roennfeldt Road Shiraz

Barossa Valley, South Australia

Only 100 six-packs were produced for the whole world. I have had this wine in multiple vintages, and the 2001 may be the best ever put in a bottle. The alcohol levels would make some ports blush; this wine is like an old slugger hittin' the hormones for one last shot at the all-time home run record. The richness of this wine can only be experienced. I think I have drunk thinner molasses, and the aromas take me back to those amazing-scented color markers of my elementary school days. Explosive blueberries, toasted planks of sugar cane and a unparalleled mouth-feel make this one of the world's singular expressions of hedonism.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robb Walsh
Contact: Robb Walsh