I love wine bottles that convey something about the context in which the wine should be enjoyed. It’s not an absolute prerequisite, but I’m thankful for the ones that jump off the shelf and immediately scream, “Party wine!” or whisper, “Relaxation wine.” During a recent trip to Wine Depot, a bottle of Smith & Hook—with its uncluttered, dramatic simplicity and cattle-brand font—shouted, “Steak!”
I’m a big fan of doing steakhouse-style dinners at home. Sure, it’s not Peter Luger, but it is just a fraction of the price to get a decent steak from your local purveyor, break out the butter, fire up the broiler, and give it your best shot. And what better accompaniment to your modestly-priced steakhouse style dinner than a bottle of Cab without the 200% steakhouse market? That’s exactly what I expected from the bottle of Smith & Hook that jumped into my shopping cart.
So I popped the bottle open, let it breathe, prepared my steak, and was ready for my faux steakhouse dinner. And while the $19 I paid for the Smith & Hook was a fraction of the price I’d pay for a bottle in a steakhouse, it also felt a fraction as satisfying. I want my Cabs to be big, and robust. The Smith & Hook was just kind of … there. It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be. It looks the part (except that the bottle, which looks black when full, loses quite a bit of drama when the wine is out of it and the green of the bottle really shows), but ultimately doesn’t deliver. The taste is thin for a Cab, and it doesn’t have the indulgent body that I want with a big piece of steak. There are lots of big, bold wines out there—many for under $25 (especially some Aussie Shirazes), so just “good enough” isn’t good enough for Smith & Hook to be worthwhile.