Country: USA

Region: Livermore Valley, CA

Just where in the hell is Livermore Valley? Google Maps says it’s due east of the Bay Area, and southeast of Oakland. It appears to be on the fringes of the San Francisco-Oakland metro area; but hey, the produce wine there, so it can’t be all bad. (Then again, Tamaqua, PA, has a winery. It says Andreas but I’m from there.)

But enough cracks on my home region.

My mother-in-law has been with us for the past two weeks as my wife and I welcome our daughter, Megan, into the world. Yes, the average person may mistakenly believe that my wine drinking is tied to my mother-in-law being here. That’s true in a sense, but in the sense that my MIL bought the wine and shared it with me - not because I’m drinking to help me cope. (In truth, I’m blessed to have truly awesome in-laws. I simply cannot say enough good things about them; I love them both to death.)

As usual, I’ve prattled on too long. You’re here for wine discussion. But I tell you that story to tell you this one: Because my MIL’s been here, I’ve had a chance to try three different grapes that I’ve never had before: shiraz, zinfandel and, tonight’s selection, petite sirah.

Having no experience with petite sirah, I’m a blank slate with no expectations. So I was surprised - and I guess I shouldn’t have been - that it was a light and refreshing red, as much as a red can be. It had elements of cab, except it didn’t feel like you were being pounded with a hammer. (And I say that with love for my buddy, cabernet sauvignon.)

There was a bit of tobacco flavor that came in toward the end of our tasting, which my MIL also agreed was a worthwhile wine. But mostly it was fruity, light and well balanced; a sort-of red version of a pinot grigio.

Maybe that’s doing an injustice to pinots, but it’s the most direct - if cumbersome - analogy I could come up with. Hey, it’s been a long day.

But in all, I am surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It’s fun enough to have just as a sipping/shooting the breeze wine, but with a decent enough balance to be interesting as a wine-tasting exercise.

Are all petite sirahs like this? I hope so.

And maybe Livermore’s a hotbed after all. Certainly moreso than Andreas.

Trust me on this.

Do-over? I can’t see a reason to say no.

Final grade: B (only because I have no other standard on which to judge it)