"Fruit forward" and "fruit bomb" are descriptors commonly used to describe "big" red wines, the kind you want to break out for Memorial Day, when you're going to be grilling and smoking.
Photo by Jeremy Parzen. Some look for fruit above all in their red wine. But a balance of fruit and earthy flavors will complement the charred flavors of Memorial Day grilling and smoking.
And hey, I've got nothing against fruit: Wine is made from fruit and it should taste like fruit. If it doesn't taste like fruit, then there is probably something wrong with the wine. (Remember our series last year on corkiness and how the absence of fruit aromas is an indication that a wine may have been damaged?)
As Americans, we have been raised to believe that fruit-forwardness is one of the hallmarks of a great red wine. And, no doubt, it can be (if that's your thing).
But when I drink "big" red wine, I look for a balance of fruit (tending toward sweet) and earthiness (among the savory "umami" flavors in red wine).
And when it comes to Bordeaux, flavors of tar -- what the French call goudron -- are what can really set the wine apart from the rest.