The quality of wine keeps improving every year. Some of today’s $10 bottles are better than wine at twice the price from a decade or two ago.

Everything has its downside however, and in wine it’s a “sameness” factor: Give everyone the same training and manufacturing equipment and you end up with pretty much the same result. Sameness in wine is also the product of powerful marketing departments that insist on a nice safe product over an interesting one.

Red wine suffers more than white. There seems to be a prototype of how it should taste — you may have noticed that Merlot seems a lot like a Cabernet, which seems a lot like a Shiraz. Smooth, with a hint of sweetness describes most of today’s reds.

Nothing wrong with that because it makes a lot of people very happy. Niceness rules. But it can get boring.

Hot climate, New World countries are most guilty of sameness in their wines but many of the old Europeans are also going in that direction. The saving grace with Spanish and Italian reds is that no matter how crowd pleasing they become in style, a little local character shines through. They retain a little “difference.”

Enter Red Guitar. Here’s a wine that feels friendly, but also a little challenging.

House red that’s more than just nice.

Red Guitar ’06, Navarra, Spain
LCBO No.: 54007
Price: $12.95