After a long hiatus in which I visited Spain I am back. More about Spanish wines in future blogs; I am still trying to digest my experience there, no pun intended.

Yesterday I took my parents out for Thanksgiving dinner at Mimi’s Cafe, a new chain restaurant that opened on Robinhood & Pacific. On first impression it looked like a sligtly more upscale version of Marie Callendar’s with a Parisian Bistro decor. Their prices were very reasonable; a 3 course traditional turkey meal was $15. I generally do not order wine in chain restaurants such as Chili’s, Applebee’s etc. because they carry “industrial” producer labels with ridiculous mark-ups. At Mimi’s I noticed a Mirassou Pinot Noir for $20. I was intrigued. You do not see any Pinot Noir for that price in restaurant wine lists any more, ever since the movie Sideways elevated this varietal to a hip status.

The meal was mediocre but edible. The pinot turned out to be quite good for the meal. It was not exactly high end quality, but for the price and the place we were at, it was perfect. As I examined the bottle somewhere in the back label the word “Modesto” caught my eye, and only then did I realize what I had forgotten: that Mirassou is one of those Gallo group wines.

The Mirassou winery in the San Jose region has been making wine for 150 years and four or so generations. Gallo bought them in 2002. Their pinot noir actually retails for around $7 in various internet sites. Once again for that price it’s quite good.

I don’t know about you but every time I catch myself drinking a “stealth Gallo wine”, I have a brief psychological setback upon realizing that I just ingested something that maybe I shouldn’t. It’s not all that different than realizing the meat you just enjoyed was snake or other some such weird stuff. It’s a brief moment of disgust. That’s where reputation and expectation clashes with reality. Being the snob I am, I cannot be caught dead with anything Gallo going through my lips. If Gallo sneaks one through via their ingenious marketing that conceals the true origin of their multitude of labels, I am taken aback. But hell, it’s not poison. And it tasted pretty good for the time and place. I suppose I need to readjust my attitude towards my wine prejudices.

And that was my post-Thanksgiving revelation.