I’m looking at the calendar realizing that December is peeking it’s party filled head around the corner. I’m know that we’re having 3 “happenings” at our house next month and we’ve been cleaning and prepping for the past two weeks and still have tons to do. As hosts, we receive gallons of wine; we usually won’t have to buy a new bottle until mid-February. We also receive “family gifts” of wine from people. It’s obvious that some people don’t buy with us in mind. They buy because of price. That’s why we receive white wine when we don’t drink white wine. That’s why we receive wine that is little better than vinegar, because no research was done (Oddly enough even some of those bottles survived the move and are languishing in the garage or basement.).
I give wine as gifts and I try to keep track of what my friends drink. I have friends who’ll enjoy a cab, but won’t touch a pinot. We have friends who only drink white wines or worse, roses. I know a few people who only drink merlot, but would probably enjoy a sirah. I have made the incredibly stupid mistake of giving wine to a non-drinker and I still feel a little embarrassed over those times.
But still, when you walk into a store to get a bottle of wine for a party or a gift, it’s a little daunting to see all those choices. You tend to pick a price range and shoot for the low-end. I know, I watch you shop for wine. I know, because I used to do the same thing. That is until I found out about JohnG’s site quaffability. JohnG rates wines under $12 mostly from Trader Joe’s. Granted if you don’t have a TJ near you many of the wines may not be available to you. Other retailers do carry them though, just call around.
JohnG’s reviews are simple and accessible to the layperson. You know how when you get the BevMo circular and you’re looking through the one-line reviews and you see they’re all given 82+ points, but you have no idea what the points mean. And then there’s reviews like in this month’s circular:
A potent brew of dark fruit, molassases, peppery spice and Chilean terrior.
And you’re thinking, “WTF is a ‘Chilean terrior’?” I guess it means something to those 7 people who thought Sideways was a good movie. To me, it’s just gibberish and I get convinced they spelled ‘terrier’ wrong. JohnG dispels with all that nonsense. He says, “This was good with the meal I had.” and gives you accessible and normal fruits to compare it too. Even when he gets all “wine-y”, it’s still pretty fun, like the recent review of a petite sirah:
This wine offers up a shy nose of plums and spice. It’s very pleasant and silky in the mouth, with simple plum and blueberry flavors that lead to a clean though short finish. Really nice texture. This is very drinkable, tasty in fact, and a decent wine for the money, but I can’t help thinking that it’s too thin and gutless for Petite Sirah. A proper petite would bully this one mercilessly and leave it behind quivering in the corner of the playground.
I don’t particularly like sirahs, but from this description, I’m thinking this would be good with a huge steak or flavorful lamb. See how useful it is? He also helpfully includes photos of the bottle and year of vintage, so you can get the right one.
JohnG also gives random reviews of wine from CostCo and BevMo, so you’re practically covered if you live in cool liberal oases. So, if you’re faced with bringing a bottle of wine to a party or want to give wine as a gift, you’ll do well checking out quaffability first before you head out with your Under $15 gift list.