The Rating System
Let’s face it, wine rating systems make as much sense as modern repot cards. I’m not talking about the ones that are pass/fail…sorry, no one fails any more, so the meets expectations/area for concern. I remember when it was easy to equate a 70 or less to a C grade, or know that D meant you were really failing, but they weren’t going to give you an F. So, while I can read all the literature and I know that an A score is from 90-99+ does that really mean I should buy wine based on a grading system? As a “belle” I know there has to be standards, but why can’t they be more approachable. That’s my aim with this blog. So, here’s how I rate wine.
The Days of the Week
Everybody knows the old rhyme. Here it is updated for wine
Monday’s wine is fair of price– it’s not a porch pounder (see occasion rating) but it’s basically a bottle you can open on a Monday night and if you don’t bother to drink it all, you aren’t going to feel bad about cooking with it, or just pouring it out on the yard
Tuesday’s wine is full of great taste – you know it’s a good wine that’s nice, but not so special you can’t just serve it on a Tuesday
Wednesday’s Wine is not full of woe – this is slightly nicer than a Tuesday one, but not the special for Friday Night Dinner (unless you’re cheap or having a house full of guests), it could work for Sunday dinner with your in-laws, assuming you don’t like your in-laws that much
Thursday’s Wine doesn’t have far to go – This is a wine where you’re treating yourself, but it’s not Friday yet
Friday’s Wine is for giving – you’re willing to share this wine with friends, or a date night wine
Saturday’s Wine – you work hard for a living – this is a good bottle for the two of you (or a girls night with your real girlfriends, the ones you can call in a crisis – like not having wine for Sunday dinner with your Mother-in-Law – Rose-Ellen); you could share it with friends, but you’ve got to really like your friends. You’d probably decant this wine if you wanted it to breathe, but you might just open it early so you could show off the label
Sunday’s Wine – bonny, blithe, happy and gay – this is family dinner, assuming you like your family. It’s actually a bit lower in price than a Saturday wine, because let’s face it your brother-in-law MJ (short for Michael James) wouldn’t know the difference between a boxed wine from a Boudreaux if it bit him on the fanny (Momma’s there, you can’t swear)
There are wines for special occasions, and then there a some things that are just get-togethers
Porch Pounder – this is a light, inexpensive, wine that you can sit on the front porch and drink without thinking about…. In fact it’s probably sweet and girly, and you could drink a whole bottle by yourself and not feel it in the morning… two bottles you might.
Date Night – Single – this is a good wine – maybe a Thursday, but definitely with the label and price to impress
Date Night – Married – see single – but know your spouse is going to check to see if you skimped on the price, so probably a great bottle that the store had on sale
Holiday Dinner – I like my family – this assumes your family actually understands wine and can appreciate it…and can tell the difference between boxed, screwcap and corked; or because your Aunt Ellie May is attending and she doesn’t shop anywhere other than Niemen Marcus
Holiday Dinner – why am I serving wine – well, because despite the fact that most people are either going to 1) only drink sweet tea because Aunt Maybelle doesn’t drink and hasn’t had a drop in her entire 82 years (the catholic wedding she attended 40 years ago doesn’t count); 2) drink beer because they don’t touch that “bougie” stuff; or 3) drink it like it’s Kool-Aid on a hot July day, so they’ll be drunk before dessert; I want to survive my family, so I’m drinking wine (bourbon before they arrive and the liquor cabinet is locked)
Party – this isn’t the dinner party with just a couple of couples from church – this is the annual holiday party you host – consider this akin to a Tuesday. Good, impressive label, mid-price range (at least $20 a bottle) that will impress your friends who know nothing about wine but not offend your friends who know the difference between an Argentinian Malbec and one from California.
Neighborhood Bar-B-Que – well, this depends on your neighborhood – but you might want to skip the wine for this one… or see Porch Pounder or Party if you insist.
Locations as a factor
My version of discussing varietals
Grocery Store Varietal – you can buy it at your local grocery store, not one of the fancy Central Markets or Whole Food types, or you can get it at a big box store (read Wal-Mart/Target/Sams).
Local Liquor Store Varietal – this isn’t one of your fancy liquor stores (like Specs or Total Wine) this is the one in the strip mall, down from your nail salon that has decent stuff, but if you really want something good you’ve got to go to a “real” liquor store. Remember those bright tags are there to get you to buy the wine, it’s probably something that’s been on the shelf for months (if not years), so it may not be the one for you.
Liquor Store Varietal – this is something you have to hunt through the racks at the liquor store to find (not shelves, actual wine racks), or something that has the tag next to it giving you the actual rating or staff pick. You can probably pick-up the cheese you forgot to get at HEB here too.
Specialty Varietal – this you have to buy at the winery, direct from the distributor, or get your cousin Nora Jean’s ex-husband to order for you on his account as a chef at the country club (because it’s restaurant only)
Keep in mind my Momma didn’t raise a wine snob. In fact, I grew up in a dry household. I became a wine enthusiast after college. I remain one today.