According to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the most celebrated of the ‘Fireside Poets’ and among the first Americans whose works were genuinely considered to be on a par with the brilliant bards of Britain:
‘Sweet April! Many a thought is wedded unto thee’
Screw him. And what kind of lame name is ‘Wadsworth’ anyway?
To those of us who understand that the Butthole Surfers will likely be considered the greatest poets of the last seven hundred years, September rules.
‘Sweet September. Many a pre-noon bottle of wine is drained because of thee.’
And I’m not talking about the merry bacchanalia that goes on around the crushing vat as the first truckloads of grapes come in from the vineyard—I’m talking about that most glorious of seasons when the whiney, bored, heat-stroked, ill-tempered children finally go back to school, thus freeing up the day for non-stop wine consumption without having to stop mid-swig to make somebody a grilled friggin cheese sandwich.
As such, I am making some recommendations for wines that can be enjoyed with equal pleasure from 7:21 AM to 2:46 PM—wines which pair well with bacon and eggs, Rice Krispies, Cash Cab reruns, Call of Duty: Black Ops on your son’s X-Box 360 which he has been hogging all summer, Three Stooges on Netflix, and all those naughty internet sites—you know how to find them, you rascal, you.
These are wines you should feel no need to share with friends, except possibly the hot single chick next door who comes home from the gym around noon; these are wines you can drink over ice and not have your wine buddies sniff and groan, and most importantly, these are wines which are affordably priced, meaning that they can be purchased in bulk without worrying too much about the bank balance.
School House Winery, ‘Prom Night’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Ohio, (NV), around $17:Wonder how hard is was for School House to trademark the name ‘Prom Night’ for a cabernet, since nobody who goes to proms is of legal age. Oh yeah, this is Ohio—no doubt the BATF locals were asleep at the wheel; that or there are plenty of 21-year-olds still in high school. On the whole, ‘Prom Night’ is not a bad little red—a lot of folks don’t realize that Ohio was at one time the biggest wine producer in the USA. On the other hand, ‘Prom Night’ is made from juice imported from Chile, and contains the expected black fruit and roasted coffee aromatics in somewhat muted doses. Not sure if it is suitable for the prom—as I recall, my date responded pretty well to watermelon schnapps.
Burrell School Winery, ‘Teacher’s Pet’ Estate Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2007, around $20: Remember when hooking up was known as ‘petting’? And remember Miss Donahue from eighth grade remedial math…? Mary Kay Letourneau may pet, but not her. But, already I digress. Miss D and me never wound up on a beach in Puerto Vallarta, but this competent chardonnay contains enough tropical fruit—mango, pineapple and kiwi—that I can close my eyes, sip and imagine that we did.
Lazy Days Winery, Viognier, Virginia, 2009, about $18: I’m too lazy to review this wine.
Burrell School Winery, ‘Detention’ Zinfandel, Amador County, 2007, around $30: Sweet detention! Many an extra hour of imbibing has been enjoyed because of thee. So the kid’s a juvie—so were you and you turned out just fine. And by ‘fine’, of course, I mean ‘perfectly dreadful’, but at least you can show up at PTA meetings with zinfandel on your breath and nobody is surprised. Amador County is arguably zin central, thus this wine is worth the few extra pennies—and by ‘few’, of course, I mean ‘several thousand’—that you’ll pay compared to the other selections here.
Liberty School Winery, Chardonnay, Central Coast, 2009, about $12: Liberty is right—for me, once I hear that short yellow bus pull away. For twelve bucks, this wine is a bargain—soft, luscious, filled with Granny Smith apple and citrus notes—especially orange and lime.
Barossa Class, ‘Scholar’ Chardonnay, Barossa Valley, 2007, around $15:So named because the grapes are picked by students, who I hear come even cheaper than illegals. Not that I am against using a little child labor—whatever it takes to keep a gem like ‘Scholar’—rated 90 by at least one source, and splendid with peach and pineapple and hazelnut—under $13.
So, with so much time on my hands, I decided to look up this Longfellow dude on the web, and it turns out in his book Birds of Passage, he’s got a poem called ‘Catawba Wine’ dedicated solely to the wonders of drinking grog made from this musky East Coast hybrid.
And guess what? In ways, while somehow avoiding words like ‘friggin’ and ‘screw’ (he does toss in ‘guadalquivir’, whatever the heck that means), it turns out that he’s almost as eloquent as moi.
Hank, ol’ boy, maybe I had you wrong. If you weren’t dead, I’d invite you by for a snort of one or all of the above listed Back-To-School wines: I assure you, they’re worth your wad.