Here at Barrel and Brew, we set out to learn as much as we can about all spirits, beers, wines, and all else alcohol related. Up to this point, we have only focused on spirits, and primarily whiskey, but now we’re going to slowly work our way into wine. We’re going to start with what we usually drink – Bread & Butter Cabernet Sauvignon and their Merlot. You can visit 52Brews.com for all of our content on beer and homebrewing. As a note, the wines we are reviewing are from their “everyday wines”, or base/standard, collection.
While we drink a decent amount of wine from time to time, we are very inexperienced with it. We buy almost all of our wine in the $10-20 price range and buy most of the same brands. Basically, our review is going to be in the eyes of the most average wine drinker, not that of a sommelier. That does not affect our ability to provide accurate factual information. So, without further ado, let’s dive into Bread & Butter Wines.
Bread & Butter Wines History
Bread & Butter is a fairly popular wine. It’s in almost every liquor store, and it’s a favorite among many. They are owned by WX Brands, a wine conglomerate that owns over 20+ different brands.
At Bread & Butter, the head winemaker, Linda Trotta, has a simple philosophy – “a good wine is a wine you like”. That has been the a major focus of the marketing campaign behind Bread & Butter Wines. Wine doesn’t need to be overtly complex and thought-provoking, it just needs to be good. Well, we’re going to find out if they’ve accomplished this.
Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon
Before we get into the specific of the Bread & Butter Cabernet and Merlot, we’re going to discuss the similarities and differences of Merlot vs Cabernet Sauvignon. Well first, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are the two most popular red wines – with Cab being the most popular due to its growth in the last decade. Both of these wines originated in Bordeaux, France and both use grapes that originated from the Cabernet Franc grape. These wines are often called cousins for that reason.
But how are they different? Cabernet vines and Merlot vines prefer different conditions. Cabernet vines grow in gravel-based soil. The soil is more loose providing more water and more heat. Merlot vines thrive in more compact soil such as clay and/or limestone soils. It’s a cooler and drier environment which can cause the grapes to mature slower.
Cabernet grapes tend to have thicker, darker skins than the grapes that produce Merlot. The skin provides color and tannins, so Cabernet Sauvignon is typically darker and has more tannins. Merlot tends to be a touch lighter and more fruit forward. While both are considered to be dry wines, Cabernet will typically be drier as well.
Bread & Butter Wines Overview
- Wine: Red – Cabernet Sauvignon (2020) and Merlot (2019)
- Region: Napa Valley, CA
- ABV: 13.5%
- Price: $15
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics, it’s time to uncork the wine and drink it up. Before I do so I want to reiterate that I am no sommelier. As much as you are learning, so, too, am I – if not more. I’ll do my best with the flavor profile and my personal preference before we get into food pairings and other details.
Bread & Butter Cabernet Sauvignon – Is It Good?
(smooth, easy, vanilla, oak, dark fruits. Vanilla being strongest. not overly dry or tannic. Seems balanced and non-offensive. touch of spice on the finish) – my thoughts on paper, or a computer screen, as I drink
Bread & Butter Cab has strong vanilla notes, with fruit and oak sitting in the back but still very much there. While it is dry and tannic, I would not consider it to be very dry or tannic for a Cab. There’s little about this wine that screams prestigious, but nothing that says bad or cheap.
Bread & Butter Merlot – Is It Good?
(Perhaps not quite as full bodied or thick, but more poignant. Sweeter and lighter. touch more acidic, perhaps that’s just the sweetness. Seems equally easy and smooth to drink) – my thoughts in real time
There’s definitely a sharper taste to the Merlot than the Cabernet. It’s not overly sweet or light, but noticeably more so than the Cab. There seems to be some acidity to the merlot, but that may be the sharp, sweet nature of this wine. Again, this is a smooth, easy to drink wine.
There’s a reason I like Bread & Butter wine. It’s simple and easy to drink. On any website, or with any company, I take what they say with a grain of salt. How much is true, how much is marketing, how much is coincidence? Bread & Butter Wines claim they just want to make good, uncomplicated, easy to drink wine. Well they do. Mind you, these are $15 bottles of wine as well. For your casual drinker, this seems to be the everyday – not necessarily EVERY day – type of wine.
I can’t, and I won’t, compare this to a $50 or $100 bottle of wine. However, in terms of the $20 or less bottles of wine – what I, and most people, mostly drink – you can’t go wrong with Bread & Butter Merlot or Cab. They are for the casual drinker because they are inoffensive. They are your typical, solid wines.
Bread & Butter Wines also offer more complex and expensive selections for your more seasoned wine drinker. Our goal is to get to that point. While most of our content is about whiskey, we encourage you to sign up for our monthly newsletter that covers all the alcoholic beverages we review for the month.
Wine is a drink best served with dinner. But how do you know what wine to serve with what food? Well, one basic rule is to not have your wine overpower the taste of the food. A lighter meal requires a lighter wine. A heavier, more flavored meal can use a stronger wine.
Cabernet is typically a more robust wine, so it’s best paired with your darker meats such as steak or burgers. However, Bread & Butter Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t too overpowering, so you’d probably be okay with some lighter foods as well.
Merlot is considered to be a versatile wine with regards to food pairing. It’s strong enough to stand up to your steak, but also light enough to be paired with a pizza or pasta – with tomato sauce or red sauce.
Bread & Butter Wines Summary
Bread & Butter Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are very good options for their $15 price tag. It may not be a bottle to take over to an experienced wine drinker’s house, but almost all will enjoy these bottles. As far as now goes, I recommend Bread & Butter Wines, and I’m planning on trying more of their offerings as well. If you’re looking for something a little nicer or more complex, you can try their Napa Collection or other series’ they offer.
For those that like both wine and liquor, learn about the best of both in our Brandy vs Whiskey guide!
I like wine, I enjoy drinking it, and I enjoy learning about it, too. So, rest assured, we will have more wine content coming out in the future. If you have any tips for me or recommendations, please let me know in the comments. I am looking to try more good wines in the $10-20 price range and am open to some good, more expensive options as well.