If a wine tells you that its grape varietal is “stylish” — as Trader Moon’s 2014 “Honey Moon” viognier did — you should probably put the bottle back. Unfortunately, I didn’t take my own advice.
Did I give in to price? Yes. Each bottle of the Trader Joe’s line of “Trader Moon” wines will run you $6.99, and for good reason: they’re terrible.
Each Trader Moon is a different varietal — “Bay Moon” is sauvignon blanc and “Velvet Moon” is cabernet sauvignon, for example. Casually strolling down the wine aisle, I decided I wanted to have a little fun and maybe be a little flirty. White wine was in order, and I picked this viognier.
The back of the bottle was wonderfully obscene, stating “Our Honey Moon Viognier is named after the June full moon which signifies the moment when the sweet scent of flowers turn into young grapes, creating this lush, full-bodied wine.” It was a bit of a stretch, and I have a low tolerance for fluff, but I was willing to take one for the team.
Opening the bottle, I was enticed by aromas of bright apple, juicy peach, fragrant pine and — what else? — honey. It was a welcome change from the blizzard taking place outside (it was the first day of spring, so naturally it snowed). The winemaker wrote the wine would have aromas of “luscious” honey, mango and nectar. I’m not sure what nectar they’re referring to, but I could understand the comparison. It smelled sweet, and if you’ve read my previous reviews, I’m certainly not.
I cautiously took a sip, and was unsurprised in my displeasure. Despite boasting a viscous mouthfeel, the wine was entirely too sweet to sip on its own. Its name rang true: honey was the predominant flavor, while notes of peach came through at the top. Saccharine with an artificial edge, this is wine tries to be something of higher quality, but ultimately fails.
While drinking this wine — and note, I couldn’t drink very much — I was reminded of Tej, a traditionally home-brewed Ethiopian mead or honey wine made from fermented honey and gesho (a hops-like plant). While Tej is perfectly enjoyable in its own right, a viognier shouldn’t cause me to draw such a comparison. A viognier should smell sweet but have a light, crisp flavor, something Honey Moon ultimately lacked.
If you feel the need to put yourself through this most unusual form of torture, I suggest pairing this wine with Ethiopian cuisine; its resemblance (but disservice) to Tej will pair well with the rich mix of spices, which will help balance its sweetness.
This wine reminded me of a failed relationship: it talked a good game and made a lot of promises, but just couldn’t deliver. It was really sweet, but left me bitter. I stayed up all night waiting for it to call me, but it lied and I was just left feeling cheated. I don’t know with what wine I’ll end up, but I know I won’t be taking a “Honey Moon” anytime soon.