Is this wine worth serving?
February 20, 2014 12:31 PM   Subscribe

I have an event coming up, and I’d like to provide some wine. The wine won’t be a focus, but some people will expect it, so I’d like to give them something. I don’t drink wine, and know nothing about it. My plan was to go to a local wine shop and explain that I need something basic at a lower price point. But, out of the blue, a friend offered to donate a bunch of wine that he’s had in his basement that he won’t ever use. My sense is that these were gifted to him over the years, but when he drinks wine, he wants something different. He’s got one to three cases of each of the following:

Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley 2008
Main Street Winery chardonnay Santa Barbara County 2008
Chateau Font Du Brok Rose Chateau 2006
Foxhorn Vineyards American Merlot
Foxhorn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Panilonco Carmenere D.O. Colchagua Vallet, Chile 2012
Hess Select Chardonnay Monterey 2010
Summerfield California Chardonnay 2009
Oko Pinot Grigio 2009
Xplorador Chardonnay Central Valley, Chile 2009

Are any of these any good? Are they okay to serve to folks? The original plan was to get two cases of a red and two cases of a white. I know that’s the right quantity. If none of the above are worth serving, I’m fine going with the original plan.

posted by ericc to Food & Drink (15 answers total)
I'm not a super dedicated wine person but I've always enjoyed Chateau Ste. Michelle's Riesling.
posted by brilliantine at 12:38 PM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

How drastic is it if the wine is only so-so?

Is this just a friendly get-together or a serious event?

Also wine is only as good as the food that goes with it (meat, cheese and chocolate). Or rather, a not-so-great wine tastes much better when properly paired.

You seem to have a good spread here (cab-sauv, merlot, chardonnay, pinot g.) so it will fit many tastes. If this isn't some wine-snob thing then I would serve all of it. If a bottle isn't great, then move on to the next one. Appoint a wine-knowledgable friend to pre-taste every bottle that is opened if you're worried.

If you end up buying a case I suggest Apothic Red, it's a good price, easy to drink and tasty all night long.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:40 PM on February 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley 2008 - A solid wine. Their Riesling is one of the few wines Ste-Michelle makes that I really enjoy.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:41 PM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think you can search each wine for reviews
I'd also test a bottle from any case you acquire, and I'd get extra cases of red and white just in case something turns out to be not very good.
posted by theora55 at 12:42 PM on February 20, 2014

I would let him know you need a couple of cases of one red, and the same for one white. I would offer one selection of each type.
Sounds like he may be a wine lover, (if he has that much wine in his basement) so I'd ask for his recommendation.
posted by elf27 at 12:42 PM on February 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Good wines available at good prices that will have "interesting" bottles available: Australian Shiraz, California Zinfandel, Washington Syrah, Oregon Pinot.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:42 PM on February 20, 2014

heh... Foxhorn actually makes a passable low price wine (in my opinion at least).

A lot is going to depend on how it's been stored, especially the older bottles.
posted by HuronBob at 12:43 PM on February 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

Off the top of my head, I can say that this seems like an okay selection of grocery store wines (everyday drinking, available outside of specialty markets, not top quality but not bad either). Foxhorn are fairly cheap, so you could bring those out at last call.

You've also got a selection of wines that are up to seven (7) years aged. That gives me pause. Reds, even inexpensive ones, usually do okay in a cellar, but I'd taste the whites before you serve them. The Riesling should be fine, but pay attention to the Chardonnays:

Don't worry about teasing out specific notes, just ask yourself "is this vinegary?" or "does it smell like old socks?"; if the answer is no, I'd go ahead and serve it. If the wines are bad, you'll know it with a whiff or a swishy mouthful. Spit 'em out if you want, but give a taste before you serve them and you should be fine.
posted by magdalemon at 12:45 PM on February 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

This stuff is passable, but some of the older years you mention might be past their prime. Especially that 2006 rose. Ew.

Can you taste things before you commit? Do you need to take it all off your friend's hands, or could you just get that 2012 Carmenere and maybe one of the 2009 Chardonnays? If there are two cases of the Carmenere I would do that for the red and pick two cases of whatever the better younger Chardonnay is.

I would not opt for a 6 year old grocery store Riesling.
posted by Sara C. at 1:08 PM on February 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Those are all perfectly cromulent wines.

I'm thinking one Chardonay, one Merlot and one Cab. But folks are saying the Reisling is good, I find them kind of sweet.

Can you take 4 cases and give back whatever doesn't get imbibed?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:09 PM on February 20, 2014

Came back to say:

None of these is a top shelf wine and it beggers credulity that these would have been gifts. More like supermarket close outs. That's not to say that they won't be perfectly fine to serve to the masses.

I too was going to say to pass on the Foxhorn, I'd use it in cooking and that's about it. The Chilean wines may be nice. The Pinot may also be.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:17 PM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Most of those wines are mid-range grocery store wines and will be perfectly fine as long as they haven't gone bad. I work for a wine wholesaler and we would throw out 2008 whites, however; be sure to taste those if you plan to serve them.

And, slightly off topic - I don't know the size or type of your event, but I would check to make sure you don't need any kind of permit to serve this as well, if you haven't thought of that yet. In my state you would definitely need a Special Event permit for something like this.
posted by something something at 1:33 PM on February 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I will second that a 2008 Riesling is past it's prime. It may be perfectly fine if stored in the right conditions, so just open a bottle and check for any sort of vinegar taste. I would also pass on the Foxhorn. I am more of a Pinot Noir / Malbec / Shiraz drinker and stay away from Cabs and Merlots. For a friendly get together though, I normally see merlot's and chardonay's served since they are middle of the road and can please most palettes.
posted by Benway at 2:13 PM on February 20, 2014

A lot also depends on how they've been stored, with temperature being the biggest concern. Basement sounds good, but the specifics of the basement as well as the position of the bottles will be important. If they were in a consistently cool basement and stored on their sides, they'll be in better shape. Those older whites are probably going to be way past their peak and I wouldn't serve those. Your best bet with these supermarket wines is to pick the reds and the youngest whites. And, taste before you serve. If you don't trust your palate, get a friend who knows their wine to help.
posted by quince at 2:17 PM on February 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Nthing that all of those are likely past their prime. While they may not be undrinkable, there are going to be taste artifacts that don't belong there, like a weird earthiness or a harshness on the palate.

On the other hand, free wine is free. Try before committing.
posted by Puppetperson at 5:34 PM on February 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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