Wine of the Week: Santiago Queirolo Vino de la Magdalena Reservado

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This Peruvian wine with a big, important-sounding name is one of the first semi-sweet red wines I've ever liked. And I liked it a lot.

Despite its massive title, the wine is completely approachable. Getting past the preconceived notion of the "semi-sweet" description was the most difficult part of the tasting -- memories of the jar of raisin jack my grandfather used to keep around the house and that bottle of sacramental wine I once drank in college came flooding back when I read the label. I was not looking forward to that first sip.

Much to my surprise, the first sip was reminiscent of a young Port, minus the fortification. It had all the sweet goodness of a great Port, without the substantial burn of the aguardente. There were flavors of caramel, sweet cherries, milk chocolate and tobacco, and the sugar, while very strong on the palate, wasn't cloying or overwhelming. It was pleasant and surprisingly refreshing in contrast to some of the tannin-heavy reds I usually enjoy.

However, if you're not a fan of Port or Madeira, you'll probably want to pass on this one, as it will probably be too sweet for your tastes. But, if that sort of thing is your bag, you can find this inexpensive bottle at the Spec's Warehouse in Midtown (where this tasting sample came from). It's one of the few Peruvian wines you'll find in the whole city.

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