We sampled the expanded collection of Star Trek wines and found them… wanting

The official Star Trek Wine collection has grown from two varieties to six.
Enlarge / The official Star Trek Wine collection has grown from two varieties to six.

Sean Carroll

Back in 2019, (in part) in honor of the announcement of StarTrek: picard, Ars staffers hosted an informal tasting session to sample two bottles of official Star Trek wines, a collaboration between CBS Consumer Products and Wines That Rock. And the wines were… much better than we expected, although way overpriced.

picard has now completed its second season, with a third currently in production, and the folks behind Star Trek Wines have expanded their collection from two varieties to six. A second informal wine tasting was therefore clearly in order. And who better to help us in this noble endeavor than Q himself, aka actor John de Lancie, and The Orville the writer André Bormanis, who launched his career as a scientific adviser on GNT? They joined a new group of tasters (eight people in all) on a cool late spring evening in Los Angeles, where the snacks were plentiful and the conversation flowed freely. (The wine ratings were anonymous, in keeping with the gathering’s super-casual vibe. And the wine was bought out of pocket, not offered for promotional purposes.)

Let’s start by revisiting the two original strains. First up: a 2017 Sonoma Valley Zinfandel, described as an 87% blend of zinfandel, blended with petite sirah and just a hint of syrah. , “blended by our intergalactic sommelier and designed to suit the palates of multiple planets.” (The back label tasting notes add “Andalusian spice” to the description just for fun.)

Ars’ original 2019 verdict: “This is a fairly typical robust California Zinfandel, light, sweet and fruity. It’s young, with a fairly high alcohol content, and it pairs well with cheeses and charcuterie. As a bonus, the bottle design is great, although clear glass is not conducive to long-term wine storage. Drink the wine now and keep the bottle if you like collectibles. (I liked minus this one, as I prefer drier, less jammy wines.)

The Federal Reserve Zinfandel received similar feedback from our new panel of tasters, many of whom also noted the fruity profile and sweet finish. Those who like fruitier wines in general tend to like this Zinfandel more than others. “Solid’ Susie Second ‘bottle’,” wrote one taster, while another called it “pretty good zin-go, Federation!” But others noted an odd aftertaste and declared the wine “not good”.

Andre Bormanis—écrivain sur <em>The Orville</em> and former Scientific Advisor for <em>TNG</em>—and John de Lancie (<em>TNG, Picard</em>) De Lancie organizes the big winner evening: a Bordeaux blend of the (very true) Château Picard.  ” src=”https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/ST-Wine2-640×463.jpg” width=”640″ height=”463″ srcset=”https://cdn .arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/ST-Wine2.jpg 2x”/><figcaption class=
Enlarge / André Bormanis—writer on The Orville and former Scientific Advisor for GNT—And Jean de Lancie (TNG, Picard) De Lancie holds the big winner of the evening: a Bordeaux blend of the (very true) Château Picard.

Sean Carroll

Next, a Bordeaux blend of Château Picard (the label claims it’s a 2386 vintage to maintain vanity): 85% Cabernet and 15% Merlot. As I mentioned before, this is an authentic wine estate, with centuries-old vineyards in the Saint-Estèphe region. Jean-Luc Picard’s family happens to have operated a fictional vineyard of the same name for a long time, albeit in the region of Burgundy rather than Bordeaux – it figures prominently in picard. The real cellar has agreed to collaborate on a special edition of their Old middle class vintage for the Star Trek collection.

Our 2019 verdict: “This is a solid and flavorful Bordeaux blend, drier than Zinfandel, with a longer finish and more interesting spice, although it lacks that ‘Andalusian spice’. It is, in sum, typically French, and proof that even in the 24th century, terroir still matters.”

The Bordeaux blend also came out on top with the 2022 tasting team, who declared it “perfectly drinkable” and “surprisingly good.” The wine is light and dry, “easy on the palate”, with “a frank finish”, and quite well balanced. It’s almost as if Bordeaux winemakers have centuries of experience to draw on. It was the only bottle that the tasting team completely polished.

Alas, the four new varieties in the Star Trek Wine Collection fall far, far short of their predecessors. We’ll start with the simply bland and innocuous: an Andorian Blue Premium Chardonnay and the United Federation of Planets Special Reserve Sauvignon Blanc.

Andorian Blue is, in fact, blue in color, probably thanks to the addition of food coloring. (“What’s that, a substrate for a COVID test?” joked one taster.) It’s a gimmick that imparts a very slight aftertaste that’s all the more noticeable as the wine doesn’t. otherwise has virtually no flavor. This is unusual for a chardonnay. I don’t particularly like white wines, but good Chardonnays are generally light to medium bodied, crisp and slightly lemony. The Andorian Blue is indeed light, but it lacks any distinctive flavor notes, other than that unfortunate hint of blue dye.

Meanwhile, the Sauvignon Blanc is so light that one taster wrote, “Does it exist?” Another commented, “What’s that? Yellow water infused with the essence of wine?” The kindest comments were that the wine was “unpretentious” and would be perfect for a weekend afternoon BBQ, or perhaps an appropriate accompaniment to spicy Thai food.

Enlarge / “The Cardassians will never rule the galaxy with a wine like this.”

Paramount National Television

This brings us to the really bad: a Klingon Blood Wine and a Cardassian Kanar Red Blend. In retrospect, it’s probably unsurprising that the wines released with the most egregious calls for fan service were also deemed largely undrinkable by almost all tasters. (I’ll give the Star Trek Wine folks some props for creative bottle design, especially the corkscrew shape of the Cardassian mix.)

The broad consensus was that Klingon Blood Wine tries to be a pinot noir and fails; it’s basically a very fruity California cabernet, with maybe a hint of pepper. “Whoever provided this blood only ate fruit salad the week before,” noted one taster, another writing simply, “Much too sweet.” The most generous review was that it is “potable but not extraordinary”.

Finally, there’s the Cardassian Kanar Red Blend, easily considered the worst wine in the collection by our tasters. “Two degrees less sweet than a Boone’s wine cooler,” wrote one taster. (The taster is not a wine cooler fan.) “The Cardassians will never rule the galaxy with wine like this,” wrote another. I found it vile and reminiscent of Welch’s grape juice. But it would probably pair well with Do-Si-Dos or a similar peanut butter cookie if you’re feeling nostalgic for the PB&J flavors of your childhood. And it must be said that at least one taster seemed to appreciate it.

With the lingering caveat that wine taste is very subjective, here is our recommendation. Keep the original two bottles for your Star Trek wine, or save the money and get something comparable for a fraction of the price, unless, of course, you really want to collect all of the bottle designs unusual. Or you are a Cardassian who likes very sweet wine.

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