I don’t know about you, but when I’m drinking red wine, I’m thinking prison, convicts, Australian penal colonies. Of course, I didn’t used to do this. I used to just think: “How healthy I am, getting all these antioxidants.” But that was before I tried the wines of 19 Crimes.
Made in Australia, the affordable 19 Crimes — so named for the actions that would get a British rogue shipped out on the next boat to Australia — pays tribute to the hardy souls who survived and thrived in the new land. The corks feature one of the crimes that could result in such exile, such as “assaulting, cutting or burning clothes.” The entire cast of “Project Runway” would be doomed.
With a panel of experts — i.e., a couple of friends who heard the phrase “free wine tasting” and beat down my door before I finished the sentence — I sampled three 19 Crimes wines (there’s also a cabernet sauvignon that sells for $12). Here’s what we decided, when we weren’t trying to think of prison puns.
2015 Red Wine, $12: Think of this drinkable, unfussy nonvarietal as the misdemeanor of the bunch. It’s less memorable, lighter, unlikely to be sentenced to hard time. It probably just got busted stealing roots, trees, or plants or destroying them (yeah, that behavior would get you shipped off to a prison colony back in the day — if the powers that be saw me attacking the bougainvillea in the back yard I’d be Sydney-bound).
The Banished Dark Red 2016, $12: This purple, fruity, Shiraz-heavy wine (with finishes of cabernet sauvignon and grenache) is the tough but sensitive convict who survived the passage and started out doing hard labor on a sheep station in New South Wales but eventually worked his way up to running the post office. In other words: It’s a success, probably our favorite. Tastes like the warm glow of Ayers Rock at sunset.
The Warden 2015, $24.95: A darker, tougher, heavier version of The Banished. It’s like The Banished if The Banished got punished for a real crime, like larceny or busting out of jail. Everything’s more powerful with The Warden: the chocolate; the vanilla; the berries; the tannins. The tasting notes whimsically claim that it coats one’s mouth “with lashings of criminally intense dark fruits.” All I know is it’s not a crime to want more.
Where to buy them: Total Wine or Publix