A pleasantly warm summer evening, sitting on the porch with Wife who says, “Let’s do something”….so we loaded our big, curly, normally quite docile dog into the car and headed for the nearby leash-off dog park, or as we call it, the Doggie Playground. Well, Mr. Fluffy, who is normally a gentle, Mommy’s boy, scaredy-cat transformed into Demonic Dog, bareing his teeth and snarling at the other dogs who came near. All because he didn’t want them getting the tennis ball we found there and threw for him to fetch a few times. He was communicating, in dog-speak, “don’t even think about it…” to every dog who approached our bench. Embarrassed parents at our child’s rudeness, we abbreviated our stay at the Doggie Playground.
On the way home we decided to swing by a liquor store to get a bottle of a recent mutual FAVE, or something that would pair well with hot dogs on the grill. I waited in the car with Demon Dog while Wife ran in. She reemerged without the intended purchase (“they don’t have it…”), but with a bottle of Cupcake Malbec instead. Now, I know they, in fact, have it, but this was O.K., as I, for quite some time, wanted to investigate this brand.
I have noticed the Cupcake brand is a big seller in The Store I frequent. There is a clue to the relative popularity of a brand by the amount of shelf space it is allocated, and within every varietal section that Cupcake is offered, it’s space is 3 or 4 rows wide, while most are 1 or 2. My Store carries the big 3 whites (chard, sauv blanc, pinot g) as well as 3 reds (Merlot, an interesting Zin based blend called Red Velvet, and this Malbec). Cupcakes website shows several others I’ve not seen. But it is not, by my measure, a true Cheapskate brand. It is normally $11.99 where I shop, which is exactly why my curiosity has not resulted in a purchase. But the place we stopped last evening, it was on sale for $8.99, so even though it wasn’t my doing, it met the Cheapskate criteria.
This is an interesting brand. They are part of the Underdog conglomerate that handles about 20 wine brands, and some spirits as well. Cupcake Vineyards is located in Monterrey, and they are shelved as a domestic brand. But their Malbec comes from Mendoza, Argentina, their Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, their Riesling from Washington state. I assume they contract with someone in those locales to produce for them, but I don’t really know. Their slogan is “Live Deliciously”, an admirable goal, and it’s hard to imagine something called Cupcake not being tasty.
After my grilling duties (it’s hard to mess up hot dogs) we tried the Malbec. Good. Dark, fairly smooth, expected fruit, nice aroma. But here’s the problem, from my perspective anyway: We, our family, likes Malbec a lot. Typically a little smoother, fruitier, and easier to drink than Cabs. And we have found a number of quite inexpensive Malbecs, Mendoza Malbecs no less, that we enjoy. Some of those cost less, or about the same, for a 1.5 liter bottle than Cupcake’s 750 ml price-even on sale! If it comes down to sheer value-a cost divided by taste equation-Cupcake loses that comparison. While the sale price is on, we’ll probably try the Red Velvet, maybe a white. But I don’t see this brand becoming part of our regular rotation. As a Cheapskate, I must advocate Live Deliciously-for Less.