No sooner did I complain about the number of overly sweet/smooth reds out there, than I come across a pair offering the very opposite. The French and Argentinian reds below delivery the bone dry, slightly austere character of traditional bistro wines. Both share similar clear statements of purpose ““ as suggesting partnership with red meats. So classic, they need a “˜no fun for parties’ warning. Think formal dinner.

Fans of medium-bodied reds should explore Francs Magnus, which comes with beautiful pure flavours, and the refined quality we associate with French fashions. There’s an appetizing edge for working the palate, and though it’s somewhat simple, it manages to feel special. A feature of Old World wines.

While most lower-priced Malbecs taste much the same as Cabernet or Merlot, here’s one running true to the grape’s personality. As in having the frank, solid hand shake character of the Cahors wines of France. There’s not a trace of the sweetness and smoothness offered in the lower-priced editions. Zuccardi’s Euro origins come through here with a wine that would be right at home in a French bistro setting, with grilled red meats.

ZUCCARDI 15 Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina 723478 Vintages $19.95

CHATEAU FRANCS MAGNUS 16 Bordeaux, France 550269 Vintages $16.95

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