The Birdman (2009), The Slammer (2010), California

Cost: $10

What: It’s always nice to have a few “old reliable” wines you can fall back on when you’re not sure what kinds of wine your guests might like. The stable of wines from Big House are among my favorites for those occasions.

I have enjoyed Big House Red and White many times, but I hadn’t tried The Birdman Pinot Grigio or The Slammer Syrah until now. I loved them as much, or maybe a little more, than the original Big House Wines.

The Birdman is a rich, full, round wine, with lots of depth. A citrus nose leads to smooth flavors of grapefruit, melon and refreshing acidity. This is not like Italian Pinot Grigio. It’s a little softer, rounder and with more depth. (The Birdman also comes in a 3 liter box, with delivers the equivalent of four bottles for $22.)

The Slammer is a muscular, fruity wine with lots of spice and ripe berries on the aroma. It fills your mouth with ripe blackberry and blueberry flavors and a hint of chocolate. It can be described as a fruit bomb.

Like all the Big House wines, these two are fruit forward, smooth and approachable. Both are perfect for fall picnics and tailgate parties.

Winery: This clearly is a winery that does not take itself too seriously, though it does take its wine seriously. The name comes from the Soledad State Correctional Facility, which is “a mere ankle iron’s toss” from their Soledad winery. All the jokes center around the prison, “aka The Clink, The Slammer, The Hoosegow, The Cooler.” The winemaker is called the warden.

The labels and the storyline on their website ( all focus on the prison theme. Their seven wines all come in screwcap bottles and all but The Slammer also come in a 3 liter box, which keeps wine fresh for up to six weeks.

Part of the company’s winemaking philosophy says it will stay true to the natural qualities of the grapes as much possible and make wines that are friendly both to foods and the people that consume them…Go easy on the consumers’ wallets…and save the money for bail.

Goes with: The Birdman pairs with goat cheese pancetta and arugula pizza. I had it with a spicy chicken Chinese dish and it was wonderful. It also would go well with mild fish, grilled shrimp or spaghetti and clam sauce, or even sipped by itself. The Slammer is a great grilling wine and matches well with barbecued pork, garlic infused leg of lamb and wild game.

Write A Comment

Pin It