Introducing “Background Wine”

If you aren’t familiar with my rating system, you can read about it here. The long and short of it is that I rank wine by days of the week, where you can buy it and what I’ve dubbed “Occasions.” I’ve snuck some new occasions in since writing the guide, but they are pretty easy to understand:

  • Everyday – not associated to any day of the week.
  • Break-up – this is a wine for drowning your sorrows – whether its a true break-up or if its just your cousin Flossie isn’t talking to you again. (Personally, I’m ok with that – but it makes Momma sad, so we have wine)
  • Cellar – this is a wine you want to save a bottle of for a nice occasion in a couple of years, like when your baby sister finally gets a divorce from that “man” she ran off and married. Or your parent’s 50th anniversary.
  • Pantry – this is a wine that like flour, Crisco and Karo syrup should be a pantry staple. You need a couple of bottles set aside for when friends come-a-calling unannounced – and let’s face it – Momma tried to raise a Southern Belle – so you should always have homemade cheese straws and this wine on hand to serve

And so, on a day that only comes around every four years, it seemed appropriate to introduce a new category.

So then, why do I need to introduce you to “Background Wine?” Well, bless your heart, your probably think its an insult. It’s not. It’s like background music – there to enhance but not overwhelm.

Wikipedia (which I normally don’t rely on for anything of substance, much like my baby sister’s husband, but in this case its appropriate) defines background music as:

Background music is a mode of musical performance in which the music is not intended to be a primary focus of potential listeners, but its content, character, and volume level are deliberately chosen to affect behavioral and emotional responses in humans such as concentration, relaxation, distraction, and excitement

Now, I include this definition because of the statement “deliberately chosen to affect behavioral and emotional responses.” Just like the china, silver, tablecloth, placemats, centerpiece, serving pieces and the decorations create the background of the table and set the mood, Background Wine is the same. (See some examples below.) It doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t say to the guests, you’re expected to swirl and comment on me with something witty. It says, “drink me and just enjoy me.” Unlike your cousin Anna Lee who despite always making the same funeral potatoes for every get together expects you to praise her amazing culinary skills, when in truth, she can’t actually cook anything else.

Some might call it table wine – but that implies a certain quality level. Generally not a high one. And often a blend. Whereas Background Wine could be at any price point and quality. It could be a screwcap, a box, a can or a traditional bottle. It could be a blend or a single varietal. It’s simply meant to be enjoyed but not analyzed.

Final Thoughts

I know some people (cousin Flossie and Uncle Jed included) think I’m crazy for classifying wine this way – but well, they are, well bless their heart, they are just family. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just happen to break the Southern Belle code and voice mine. So, forget about wine ratings or background wine and just enjoy it. Read more on my wine philosophy here.

Although, for Momma’s sake I will refrain from commenting on the Riunite Raspberry Uncle Jed brought for Sunday dinner. I’ll just say that “I have somewhere to be and stick to sweet tea today.”

Below are some examples of how the table is set, or the food is plated sets the mood. Almost all are my designs, except the ones that are over the top. Those belong to Aunt SuEllen, who does Tablescapes in her store and house, not just table setting.

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