Cooper & Thief Red Blend Review (2023)

Cooper & Thief Red Blend Featured

What Kind of Wine Is Cooper & Thief Red Blend?

Cooper & Thief Red Blend is a Californian dry red Merlot-based blend wine. It is a blend of Merlot, Syrah, and Zinfandel with subtle notes from Cabernet Sauvignon. The Mediterranean-style climate combined with the warm and cool nights of the Napa Valley in Northern California gives the wine intense but well-rounded lusciousness and bold flavors of extra ripe blackberry, black currant, cloves, and vanilla.

But what really distinguishes Cooper & Thief Red Blend is the fact that it is a whiskey-barrel wine. It has aged 3 months in charred American white oak bourbon barrels. This American innovation in winemaking assures that the wine I am reviewing is one-of-a-kind and among the most unique currently available in the worldwide wine market.

Cooper & Thief Red Blend Review

  • Winery — Cooper & Thief Cellarmasters
  • Country/Region — United States, California
  • Type — Californian Red Blend
  • Aroma — Bourbon, Blackberries, Strawberries, Charred Wood, Vanilla, Cloves
  • Grapes — Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot
  • Taste — Cooked Plums, Jam, Raspberries, Smoke, Leather, Hints Of White Pepper And Butterscotch
  • Alcohol Content — 16%
  • Sugar — Dry
  • Pairing — Veal Stew, Filet Mignon, Beef BBQ, Gorgonzola, Goulash

Cooper & Thief Red Blend is a wine that is not only complex enough with its dark, jammy, smoke-infested appearances and satisfies even the greatest of skeptics, but manages to celebrate its pure American character in every velvety drop. Cooper & Thief Red Blend is a masterful wine creation and should not be missed by any wine enthusiast.

Overall Rating: 4.7



  • Unique Subtle Bourbon Aromas
  • Complex
  • Cross Between Classic Californian Merlot & Port
  • Affordable
  • Perhaps Too Smoky For Some Palates

Tasting Notes

Cooper & Thief Red Blend is a complex, smooth, and well-round full-body red wine. The 3 months that this satisfying red blend is aged in bourbon barrels, give it unparalleled richness and flavor. It can also be characterized as a cross between a classic red wine and a port. Its silky-smooth palette is coupled with an explosion of dark fruits, chocolate, and earthy sensations too.

The Merlot grapes mainly used to make this wine, are harvested from Californian vineyards as late as possible to generate intense purple color, concentrated blackberry fruit, and velvet-textured tannins. Afterwards, the produced wine is matured in new white oak barrels that were previously used to mature bourbon, to add toasty flavors.

Furthermore, Cooper & Thief Red Blend is a wine made in the international style of winemaking. This is vastly different to the production in Bordeaux estates in Southern France where the fresh fruit character, as well as leafy, vegetal aromas dominate.


Distinctive and powerful, Cooper & Thief Red Blend is greatly appreciated for its dark, bourbon-inspired mahogany color and the deep purple, plum-like highlights. Wine enthusiasts will be enthralled from the first drop in the glass.


Cooper & Thief Red Blend has a complex aromatic profile with multiple layers of underlying aromatic intensity. An intense smoke hits the nose as soon as the glass is raised, followed by aromas of blackberry, vanilla, cloves, and small hints of chocolate, coffee, caramel, and ripe strawberry—the latter coming from the Zinfandel used in the blend.

It is a powerful nose and may overpower some but its bourbon-orientation is undoubtedly its strong point. It proves that New World ingenuity can blend marvelously with conventional winemaking.


Rich flavors of smoke, Belgian chocolate, and freshly picked raspberries, together with ripe blackberries, jam, white pepper, and leather serve as a fine memory of the best Kentucky bourbons, but taste like a traditional Californian Merlot-blend with velvety tannins and subtle heat. Cooper & Thief Red Blend is dedicated to those who admire the strong character of the American South but seek the freshness of the West Coast.


With a long lingering but sweetish finish, Cooper & Thief Red Blend maintains its complexity right through to the end. The smoke flavor is ever-present as well as the feeling of cooked black fruits and vanilla-scented plum jam. In other words, it has a finish that leaves little to desire, apart from wondering why the wine bottle is already empty.


Cooper & Thief Red Blend wine is a one-of-a-kind Californian Merlot-based red blend. It combines the smokiness of the bourbon barrels, in which it has been aged for a period of 3 months, with the aromatic youthfulness of the Merlot and Zinfandel grapes used in the blend. At no point does it disappoint but instead it delivers. Add also the fact that it has excellent aging potential, which can increase its complexity after years of careful storing, and you have a fine wine ready to provide whenever you are in need.

Cooper & Thief Red Blend Food Pairing

My review has reiterated the uniqueness of this rich and complicated bourbon-aged red wine. As a Californian red blend that has undergone substantial aging, Cooper & Thief Red Blend goes well with grilled meats and smoked cheeses. Such as Beefsteaks or Lamb Chops cooked properly on the barbecue, or Gorgonzola cheese plateaus. It also complements stewed Veal and Poultry well. If dried plums are added in the stew, they will significantly enhance the jammy flavor of the wine too.

But for absolute best results, Cooper & Thief Red Blend pairs superbly with dry-aged Tomahawk and T-bone steaks that have been marinated with whiskey and honey. The wine’s charred aromas blend divinely with the smokiness of the aged meats, elevating every possible gastronomical sensation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Makes Cooper & Thief Red Blend?

Cooper & Thief Red Blend is crafted by Cooper & Thief Wine cellarmaster Jeff Kasavan in Lodi, California. The winemaker’s main mission is to challenge tradition. Jeff does this with his bourbon barrel-aged wines and creates a fascinating wine story that is sure to draw the attention of wine enthusiasts worldwide. In addition, Jeff Kasavan is also the Senior Director at E. & J. Gallo Winery, established for almost a century, in Modesto, California.

How Is Cooper & Thief Red Blend Made?

Cooper & Thief Red Blend is a dry red Merlot-blend wine that has aged for 3 months in white oak barrels once used to age bourbon. Even though it may seem that the aging process is complicated, it could not be further from the truth. For starters let me make perfectly clear that I am talking about wine aged in barrels once used to age whiskey.

I am most definitely not talking about any amount of whiskey being added to the wine, not even the tiniest. Adding whiskey to the wine could potentially be fatal to the wine itself by diluting its flavor or even killing its enzymes which are responsible for said flavor.

Expensive Barrels

Unfortunately, brand new French or American oak barrels cost a small fortune and are sometimes completely out of the reach of young wineries which do not have a lot of money to spend. After all, a wine barrel stops giving flavors to an aging wine after 4 or 5 uses and needs to be replaced by a new one. Consequently, some wineries came up with the idea that they could re-purpose barrels used in bourbon aging, which are actually barrels used previously in red or dessert wine aging, and craft a new kind of experimental bourbon-aged wine.

Keep in mind that these whiskey-barrel wines are rare and therefore, Cooper & Thief Red Blend is a unique representative of that New World wine-making movement. But the aging process is still the same. The wine after completing its fermentation is placed inside oak barrels and kept undisturbed in a cool and dark place, with constant temperature and humidity.

Where Is Cooper & Thief Red Blend Made?

Cooper & Thief Red Blend originates in Lodi, one of the major American centers of wine production, in California in the West of the United States. In fact, Lodi has been a respected part of California’s wine industry for over 100 years. This region of California is home to the vast majority of the American wine industry and its most celebrated wines due to its Mediterranean-type climate and state-of-the-art wineries.

Combinations of warmth, bright sun, and cooling influences from the Atlantic Ocean mean that California’s winemakers can deliver a diverse range of premium wine styles, and some, like Jeff Kasavan, can even produce red blends aged in charred white oak bourbon barrels.

Cooper & Thief Red Blend, as its name suggests, is a blend of different red grape varieties: Merlot and Syrah, being the principal varieties used in the blend in almost equal proportions, followed by Zinfandel, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other staple red blenders.

How to Serve Cooper & Thief Red Blend?

Cooper & Thief Bourbon Barrel Red Blend should be served at room temperature, which is approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It would be wise to not have been chilled before as it will lose its freshness and the flavors may become muddled.

As a dry red wine, a larger-sized wine glass will allow the air to come into contact with the wine surface and unlock its aromatic and flavor intensity. A balloon-shaped glass would also be an ideal choice as its large bowl will allow Cooper & Thief Red Blend to breathe. Further, I would also recommend decanting as aeration benefits nearly every kind of wine.

How Much Does Cooper & Thief Red Blend Cost?

Despite being an extremely rare type of wine, Cooper & Thief Red Blend is quite affordable, with its retail price ranging from $20 to $25 per 750ml bottle. That means that Cooper & Thief Red Blend price point gives most wine enthusiasts the opportunity to try this amazing example of whiskey-barrel wine without putting their hand too deep in their pocket.

How Long Does Cooper & Thief Red Blend Last?

Considering how heavy a blend whiskey-barrel wines can be, they seem to be ideal for long-term aging. Cooper & Thief Red Blend is one of those types of wines that can be bought from the store, put away, and easily opened after nearly a decade without losing much from its freshness. Rather it will develop even more secondary and tertiary aromas and flavors.

In addition, it should be stored sealed with a cork on its side, safely away from direct exposure to sunlight or artificial light, and somewhere with temperatures between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In the rare case, however, that Cooper & Thief Red Blend is intended for even longer aging, it should be taken every 5 years to a winery to replace its cork. As time passes corks become damaged and allow too much oxygen to come in contact with the wine and may make it faulty.

How Many Calories Does Cooper & Thief Red Blend Have?

Cooper & Thief Red Blend has a standard calorie density. There are about 20 calories in 1 fluid ounce of the beverage, so it equates to a total of 130 calories per serving. The approximate amount of calories per serving is 130. The calorie breakdown is: 0 g fats, 5 mg sodium, 4 g total carbohydrate, 0 g protein. As such Cooper & Thief Red Blend calories are nearly non-existent, making the wine a suitable dietary choice. It is also worth mentioning that Cooper & Thief Red Blend alcohol content sits at 17%.


I acknowledge that there may be quite a few constraints when it comes to new, unorthodox winemaking techniques and that the quality and acceptance of traditional Old World styles of wines remain unparalleled. However, I have to give credit where credit is due, especially when wineries such as Cooper & Thief Cellarmasters challenge conventional ideas and attempt to swim in unchartered waters.

I can therefore only applaud them for producing an explosive dry red Merlot-based bourbon-barrel wine. A wine that is not only complex enough with its dark, jammy, smoke-infested appearances and satisfies even the greatest of skeptics, but manages to celebrate its pure American character in every velvety drop. Cooper & Thief Red Blend is a masterful wine creation and should not be missed by any wine enthusiast.

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