Recently, I enjoyed a special night at Mallards on the St. Croix. Every year, they host the River Valley Wine Fest, where people try wine, buy wine, and have a wonderful time in general. While many people who go are connoisseurs – the type of people who swish things around, spit them out, and repeat – I’m not, and I don’t. I like wine, but I don’t know much of anything about it. I just know what I like.

So, for the night (and the rest of this article) consider me the finest faux connoisseur of wine there ever was. Buckle up as I review 9 wines in a quest to find my favorite thing at Mallards on the St. Croix.

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix
Over 100 wines at the River Valley Wine Fest at Mallards on the St. Croix
Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix
Getting’ fancy with grapes
Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix
Hand-rolled cigars for smokers and smellers
Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix
Grapes from a local vineyard ready to meet their destiny.

Here’s a quick review, in my faux connoisseur way, of all the things I tried at Mallards:

Ghost Pines – Red Blend: A starter wine, my first pour. I found this blend okay, but not that memorable.

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix

La Fea Tinto Tempranillo/Garnacha/Syrah: A mellow, smooth little thing I found enjoyable with a slight tang.

Ghost Pines – Red Blend: A starter wine, my first pour. I found this blend okay but not that memorable.

Bodega Norton – Late Harvest Merlot: This wine was sweeter than I expected, but not too sweet – in fact I will be looking to purchase this one in the (near) future.

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix

Save me San Francisco Wine Co. – Soul Sister: Train’s signature line is a backup classic for me, yet I’ve never tried the Pinot Noir; not usually my thing but, hell, why not this time? And as usual it turned out to be a palatable, nice, everyday type wine like the rest of the wines from Train.

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix

Hob Nob – Wicked Red Blend: I only tried this one because the guy said the bottle was a limited edition, due to the Halloween design on the bottle. I don’t have anything interesting to say about the wine, but the bottle is cool.

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix

J Cuvée Brut: I asked for a white I wouldn’t hate – one that is not too sweet, but also not too dry. I was handed this bubbly. I liked it: It wasn’t too sweet, nor was it too tart or dry. Nailed it.

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix

E – England: I don’t know what these wines were all about. They told me this was a Spanish red called, inexplicably, England. It tasted like every other wine, and by this time I probably wasn’t the best judge of character (after having 6 other glasses). I did start to feel like a real connoisseur, however, so I fancily dumped the rest of this one out.

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix

The spittoon (in case you’re feeling fancy, too).

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix

Chateau Souverain – Cabernet Sauvignon: This one was sweet and had a sweet aftertaste that made me scrunch up my face into a question mark. Cotton candy? Is that you?

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix

Carnivor – Cabernet Sauvignon: This was mellow and just fine, but not really my thing.

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix

And the winner is, without a doubt (drumroll, please)…

The Jerk Chicken Nachos!

Wine down with a night at Mallards on the St. Croix
Yeah, wine is cool. But have you ever had Mallards’ Jerk Chicken Nachos?

It could have been all the wine that made these nachos extra delicious, but I think it was probably just the three cheeses, avocado sour cream, and Caribbean salsa. They are definitely the best in the Midwest – a well-hidden secret that I don’t mind sharing, as they’re too good not let others enjoy as well. So, go ahead, check out the nachos at Mallard’s, and be sure to go Monday or Tuesday for half priced bottles of wine as well.

All photos by Apryl Cave.

Read this next: Head to these 6 Minnesota vineyards for delicious wine-tasting tours

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Apryl is a guest contributor for the Twin Cities Agenda. Apryl Cave is a journalism graduate turned copywriter with a special affinity for psychology, photography, and sour beers.