Judging A Book By Its Cover

So this one time, on a rainy Friday night when we were sick of all of our usual haunts and had exhausted our free drink quota from our favorite bartenders, The Wives decided to do a blind wine tasting. We bought a bunch of bottles at various price ranges, hid the labels, and then judged them based on taste alone. Then I wrote about it here.  And you seemed to like it enough to inspire us to make these little wine tasting debauchery parties a regular thing, you devoted little devils, you. And us Wives listen. Well, not to our boyfriends, or our husbands, or our mothers or fathers or accountants or doctors or even sometimes our gay best friends when they try to tell us “that skirt makes you look easy, honey”.  Just you.

But we needed to switch it up, of course.  And the thing we’ve noticed the most on our daily perusings for more wine is that we have a snobby and shallow little tendency to want to pick the wines with the prettiest labels. Most of us do it in secret (you do too, it’s okay), because we don’t know enough about every single wine out there, and because deep down our eye is just attracted to the attractive. It’s why the Bachelor always picks the bitchiest, prettiest girl there instead of the dark horse/underdog who would probably do his laundry and keep him 6 out of 10 happy for the rest of his life. Us humans are stupid, and we get blinded far too easily by the shiniest (Firefly reference, bitches!) of things, only to be disappointed when they prove to be not-so-great on the inside further along the way.  So we figured we should embrace our shallowness, and throw a wine tasting party based on looks alone.  The rules were simple: bring a bottle of wine, white or red, that had your very favorite label. And then we would judge the shit out of that book’s cover.

The cast of characters were as follows: The Wives (Jenny/”Wild”, Sam/”Samurai”, Becky/”B-Rex”, Cindy/”Buzz”, and yours truly), the Gay Best Friends (Patrick/”P-Mass”, Ian/”Gidge”, and good ol’ Rexy), and a couple of guys who would never be stupid enough to tell us what to do, author-extraordinaire/Wild’s lovah Patrick “The Laureate” Blennerhassett, Samurai’s soulmate and avid New Girl fan Ross “It’s Ross!” Morrison, and our British upper crust expat Oliver “The Aristocrat” Rayner. The grand total was a whopping 16 bottles of some sexy looking wine and, notepads at the ready, we started with the whites. And ended with a Rihanna-inspired dance party where some of us lost our pants.

Highlights below, word for crazy word:


Vinaceous Divine Light Verdelho (Aristocrat’s pick)

Me: “Beautiful label but I’m not crazy about it. It’s boring. Next!”

Wild: “Looks racy. Tastes racy.”

Becky: “Made my nose twitch. Hate the taste. But the label’s cool, like a tattoo on one of Jesse James’ girlfriends.”

Buzz: “This sounds like a stripper’s name! Crisp and summery. I’d take this over a stack of Playboys!” <?>

Rexy: “Hey the chick on this label looks like Claudia Schiffer! This tastes like water!” <I have never seen him drink water.>

The Laureate: “Looks like heavy metal, tastes like chalk and berries.”

Ross: “Tastes like spearmint.”



Sibling Rivalry white blend (It’s Ross!)

Me: “I would drink this any day!  It’s a little sweet, a little luscious, and just delish. Good looking, too. Hello, keeper!”

Wild: “Loves it. The Speck brothers are brothers of mine!”

Samurai: “YUM! Would totes buy this again! LOVE!”

Becky: “Love the label, very art deco. Great wine, mellow, a little sweet, and delicious.”

Buzz: “The label looks like an ad for an after school special starring me!  My mind is f**kin’ blown, son!”

The Laureate: “Smooth, like drinking ladies’ perfume.”

Ross: “A real sommelier must have picked this!”

The Aristocrat: <who writes like he talks, which means I can only understand every second word> “Goes down gory <or gaby? gazy?>”


Ruby Tuesday Viognier (Becky’s pick)

Me: “Weird nose on this one, but it tastes better than it smells. Like my ex boyfriend.”

Wild: “Flying shoes! Good and mineraly. Also, Becky just slurred. We’re in trouble.”

Becky: “Smells a little brassy, but tastes better. Sexy label. I gots some satisfaction!” <most definitely slurring>

Buzz: “What is with the stripper names??  This smells like stripper.”

Gidge: “Good pumps on the label. And a clean little finish!”


Monster Vineyards Riesling (Aristocrat)

Me: “Well that was total shit. Why is this wine neon?”

Wild: “It looks more magical than it is. This one has claws. No like.”

Samurai: “I’m detecting undertones of petrol.”

Becky: “This tastes pretty good, if you like huffing gas.”

Buzz: “This smells and tastes like tires. Like that time I was on set in China and they were burning so many tires, my hair turned grey.”

The Laureate: “I like huffing gas.”

The Aristocrat: “Cool bottle, but smells wife taste candy Lucifer Field.” <it’s like the writing of a blind person>


Ad Hoc Chardonnay (yours truly)

Me: “An Australian Chardonnay. Sexy on the outside, come hither on the inside. It’s warm and goes down a little too smooth. Can’t be trusted. Pour me some more.”

Wild: “I liked it until Rex called it Cougar Juice.”

Samurai: “I really love this one. Buttery and oaky, but the oak doesn’t take over too much in the finish.”

Becky: “Hey, what came first? The chicken or the egg?”

Buzz: “If a Real Housewife were a wine, this is what she would taste like.”

Gidge: “Chicken pot pie meets Cougar Town!”

The Laureate: “Boring label, boring taste. One word: starfish.”

The Aristocrat: “Classy label, full bodied, gold <?> and reamy <?> LS smoke <??>, great aftertaste.”


Little Black Dress pinot grigio (P-Mass)

Me: “Ugly label. Looks cheap, tastes cheap. Like the Aldo shoe of wines. I’m about to do my first pour-out ever in life.”

Wild: “I cannot look at this wine bottle, nor can I drink it.”

Becky: “Absolutely horrid. Completely undrinkable.”

Rexy: “Slingback. Pigback. This wine’s a real pig.”

P-Mass: “Screw you guys.”


Vibrant Vine White Blend (Becky)

Me: “This label is Vegas-pretty, kinda tacky. And it tastes even worse. The Wildcat beer of wines.”

Wild: “This looks like the Ed Hardy of wine! Smells like candy, tastes like evil.”

Becky: “…. I thought it looked pretty.”

Buzz: “Looks like a Chinese New Year parade threw up all over the label, but in a good way!  It’s like eating soap on a psychedelic journey to hell.”

Rexy: “Hey! It’s Christian Audigier!”

Ross: “Reminds me of my youth, drinking in a park.”


Longue Dog 2010 White Blend (Samurai)

Me: “Classy-looking, lovely, and smart. Just like Sam. If this was a novel, it would be Jane Eyre.”

Becky: “Clean, crisp, and smooth. Really nice.”

Buzz: “Mc Long Lovin’! Love you long time! Long john silver, son!” <etc etc etc, she likes it>

P-Mass: “Hey, are we supposed to be writing notes when we do this?”

The Laureate: <rather explicit sexual comment I can only take as approval for this one>

The Aristocrat: “A classy label, simple chardonnay that goes down <no idea what that says>.”


Mission Hill Perpetua Chardonnay (Wild and The Laureate)

Wild: <half the page is torn off, so this is all I got> “Perpetua is a cl… ady and we are now dating exclusi..”

Samurai: “Floral, delicious.”

Becky: “Label’s like a cool tombstone. Tastes divine. I want this on my tombstone when I’m cremated!”

Rexy: “This is so good, I’d smash it over someone’s skull!”

Ross: “Hey, do you think Jen has a waterproof iPhone cover so she can text in the shower? Just wondering.”


The People’s Sauvignon Blanc (Gidge)

Samurai: “Dry, like it’s sticking to the roof of my mouth.”

Becky: “A nice sauvignon blanc. Let’s start a revolution, people!”

Gidge: “LOVES IT!”

Ross: “This tastes like white wine.”

The Aristocrat: “Tastes cheap, too flirty <fruity?>, gave me <could say heartburn or heathrow. Anybody’s guess.>.”


The Watcher- Fetish Shiraz (yours truly)

Me: “I know how to pick ’em. Burly, robust, sexy. This is Australian, isn’t it.”

Wild: “Jewel brought this one, didn’t she? Frisky has arrived! If this wine were a boy, he’d be working a job where he removes moss from the roofs of houses.”

Buzz: “It kinda does make me wanna whip someone…”

Rexy: “Jewelsy! We’re gonna need to bleach our teeth after all this red wines!”

Gidge: “So yummy! I’m wrecked.”

The Laureate: “Strong, full bodied, hard, dark, black, deep. Black. “<??  Writers.>

Ross: “I can already taste tomorrow’s puke.”


Moon Curser Tempranillo (Aristocrat)

Me: “The Clive Barker of wines. Dangerous and wild!”

Samurai: “Very debonair, dry but goes down so smooth.”

Becky: “Label is very pretty. Ooo la la, me likey likey!”

Rexy: “Simply sublime!”

The Laureate: “Full bodied and beautiful. Like a wolf.”

Ross: “Are you guys Team Edward or Team Jacob?”

The Aristocrat: “I’d shower in this.”


L’Ecole Recess Red (Rexy)

Me: “SO GOOD. I’d tell my secrets to this one.”

Wild: “This is a combination of grapes like so many multicultural school children. <??> The kid who drew the label needs lessons, though. It is weak.”

Becky: “This is the lightening round! Hang the f**k on!”

Buzz: “I want more, calisse!” <launches into Quebecois French I don’t understand>

Rexy: “Brilliant choice, Rexy!”

The Aristocrat: “Pungent, deliciously fruity, few trimmings <tawnings? twigs?>


Moon Curser Dead of Night Blend (Wild and The Laureate)


Wild: “I chose this because of the animals. Well done, me.”

Samurai: “The pony goddess chose this one!  I don’t know at this point. I don’t know.”

Becky: “Sexy and bold, beautiful. Like Benecio del Toro as the Wolfman.” <draws a picture of a sun with a winking face>

Buzz: <officially abandons paper, moves into the living room and starts dancing to Biggie Smalls. Goodnight, Buzz.>

Rexy: “Simply sublime! Sublime! Simply!”

Gidge: “I can’t even read my own writing anymore.”

The Laureate: “I’d sleep with it.”

Ross: “I’m peeing more than I’m drinking, so there’s no way I’m drunk.”


Punch in the Face Shiraz (yours truly)

Me: “Label looks just like the wine tastes! Super fun.”

Samurai: “This is the only punch in the face I’ve ever felt good about.”

Becky: <writes in enormous letters> “Hey BECKY! WHASSSUP??”

Gidge: “I give up.”

The Laureate: “I’d sleep with it.”

Ross: “I am officially on puke watch.”


The Garden Path Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon (Samurai)

Me: “Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Becky: “I’d walk down this path any day.”

Rexy: “Smooth as silk.”

Ross: “LOVE YA!” <Sam? The wine? Dunno.>

The Aristocrat: “Was good. Everything is good right now. I may be drunk.”

The aftermath:

From left to right: Laureate, Aristocrat, P-Mass, Rexy, Gidge, and It’s Ross
From left to right: me, B-Rex, Samurai, Wild, and Buzz

The lessons learned at the end of it all? A) Let’s cap it at ten wines next time, B) Don’t let Ross drink out of the spit bowl, no matter how funny it is, and C) Some beauty is only skin deep.  Lo and behold, we can all breathe easy in knowing that really, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.  Sort of.  Also: first impressions are everything.

Confused? Me too.

Stay tuned for our next wine tasting adventure, where we all pick a bottle that represents us the best. I gotta find something real expensive…..











32 Comments Add yours

  1. Ritzi Cortez says:

    I have literally never seen wines like these in my off licence! Punch in the face shiraz? FETISH WINE???

    This is hilarious, and I’m so playing it next weekend.


    1. Kathleen Woodward says:

      Jewel – you are hysterical. This is such a fabulous idea – I may steal it and try it out on my friends.

  2. Deana says:

    Oh, I’d love to have been a fly on the wall! Sounds like fun! Cheers. 🙂

  3. Mari says:

    Things I know about my tastes in wines:
    – NOT a Shiraz and Syrah fan
    – more a red wine than a white wine person

    I do try to stay under $20, jsut because I think there must be a lot of hidden gems in that category and because I cannot routinely spend an obscene amount of cash on a wine. There is one specific time that I bought a bottle purely on the looks alone, it was $60 and it was AMAZING.

    For this reason, I feel as though I can safely recommend you do a tasting featuring Marilyn Wines (www.marilynwines.com) – I have tried the 2004 Marilyn Merlot – the bottles are pretty, and the wine IMHO is excellent.

    Right now I have two whites in my fridge and I adore one (do not care for the other) – Sweet Bliss Sweet White Wine (www.sweetblisswinery.com) and LUNA Pinot Grigio. I recommend the Sweet Bliss, especially if you have some cheesecake or other non milk or dark chocolate dessert to go with it, but not so much the LUNA.

    Totally aware you might not even read or care, but the entry made me want to right this.


  4. Nannig says:

    Now that’s an interesting way of picking up wine for tasting!
    Especially that over here in France we’re very traditionnal about wine labels, cos wine is a serious business!
    And when serious is good when it’s about the content, a little crazyness on the label never killed anyone… and definitely makes an impression on the buyer. The only problem being the first wines that had fancy label in France were newcomers wanting to sell quickly… and they were usually crap wines, that needed a neat label to ever sell. So French people tend to associate fancy label to crap wine, and one can’t blame them.
    So it’s always nice to go abroad and have really nice wine with really nice labels!
    And as we can’t get these wines over here, tasting notes are useless (yet very funny to read!) so it’s nice to enjoy nice labels 🙂

    1. Mari says:

      Yup, another proof I am French… I go for the simple labels.

  5. Julie M says:

    Fetish also make a nice, although sweet-ish, Shiraz called Playmate with a nude woman, tastefully done in outline, on the bottle. It’s the little sister to the Watcher in every way.

  6. Ben says:

    OMG. How does your liver survive?!?

  7. Chrissy says:

    I love The Watcher Fetish Shiraz! I have a few bottles lined up at home. *heart*

  8. Gina says:

    LOL!! This sounds like a fantastic idea, Jewel!! I love your outlook on things! I’m from the west coast transplanted to the east coast, but miss all the good wines. In Hood River, Oregon, there is a fantastic winery called, “Naked Winery”. They have an awesome tasting room, fun names and phrases (“I buy Naked all the time!”) and the wines are just superb!! Here is the website: http://www.nakedwinery.com/index.php. If you’re down in the states in Oregon, I highly recommend it… or you can order. Not a plug, but I really like their wines and want to come back to the west coast to get them again or down in the Healdburg, CA area to Monkey Business Winery. YUM! Love reading your blog and party on!!! 🙂

  9. Jim Pook says:

    Jewell: That was great fun. It reminded me of another life, years ago…

    A group of Vancouver Science Fiction fans used to hold a monthly party that was hosted in turn by various members. It was called Second Saturday for the simple reason it was held on the second Saturday of each month.

    Each host would declare a theme in advance. One time the theme was “Wines of your childhood.” We would each bring a bottle of wine that we used to drink in our far too early drinking days. The bottles were assembled and the wine tasting began. We had them all: Two Buck Chuck, Thunderbird. Calona Red, basically every cheap-assed bottle of wine that we could spend our allowance on. It was one of the most fun wine tastings I’ve ever been to.

    Thanks for reminding me of that time.

  10. Warren says:

    This was interesting because I sometimes stay away from wines with labels or names that are too cute. I reckon if you make a mediocre wine you have to find something other than taste that gets people to buy it.

    Apparently I’m part right.

  11. That must of been a fun nite. You actually drank that much lol? Least you gave me good ideas on what wine I should get when I’m on a date. I’ll drink the ‘Punch in the Face Shiraz” because Laureate said she would sleep with it haha. 🙂

  12. Heather says:

    Before I knew anything about wine (except that it came from grapes), I used to choose based on the attractiveness of the label. This annoyed my then boyfriend, now husband, to no end since he’d once been a bartender and could have been a sommelier instead of the network admin that he is now. I’d saunter up to him at the liquor store clutching a bottle with a pretty, sparkly label and he’d say, “Why’d you choose that?”

    I’d say, “You said, ‘Pick a red under $30.’ This one is $20 and I thought the label was pretty.”

    Long stare. “You chose it because the label was pretty?” Blink blink, stare stare.

    “Yep! It’s so shiny!”

    Ex-bartender-future-husband would glance dismissively at the label before saying, “Hon, that’s a chardonnay and you’re worse than a magpie.”

    “Oh.” And I’d shuffle away in shame to find something else. I’ve learned a ton about wine since then from him I no longer choose wines by their label, but I still tend to gravitate towards the attractive ones first.

    I am so having a wine party based on pretty labels!

    1. CobyLyn says:

      Haha! Love your style Heather 🙂

    2. Ben says:

      LOL total kaylee moment ^_^

  13. Sonja says:

    Best line ever: Wild: “I liked it until Rex called it Cougar Juice.”

  14. CobyLyn says:

    AWESOME! How about posting prices with each wine next time? I’m interested to know if some were good AND cheap, meanwhile writing down your list and going to Bevmo to have a look for your recommended ones. Brilliant post Frisky!

  15. Jo S says:

    I like this way of exploring strange new wines.

    Family method of picking unknown wines is brutal but surprisingly effective; go for highest percentage of alcohol at the lowest price. Sometimes it leads to disaster in multiple forms, but we try it at home anyway.

  16. DWG says:

    Thanks again to the brave warriors who risked headache, hangover and hurl session so that we, the readers, don’t have to. May we all stand united in a quest to rid the world of crappy wines, once and for all!

  17. joanna says:

    Hilarious! I love you and your friends! “Cool bottle, but smells wife taste candy Lucifer Field.” I’m cracking up and I want to drink wine and it’s not even 10 in the morning.

  18. jfeldt says:

    I totally picked Sibling Rivalry up three years ago just because of it’s name/label and FELL IN LOVE! Unfortunately I can’t find it in BC cause it’s an Ontario wine and we all know the retarded 1930’s prohibition laws that cause me to smuggle wine across invisible borders. I’m marrying someone from ON just so his mother can mail me care packages of this, true story.

  19. acpettigrew says:

    Hard to get outside Colorado, but The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey has some of the most beautiful bottles and also happens to make some of my favorite wines. http://www.abbeywinery.com It is the most award-winning winery in Colorado and if anyone happens to be passing through, definitely worth a visit.

    Jewel: I’ll be bringing you a bottle of their Revelation (not available for sale except directly at the Winery and only 150 cases made) and their Sauvingon Blanc Reserve to the Con in Denver. (I live in Colorado Springs, home of the Stargate.) If you like them, I can grab a bottle of their 10th Anniversary Jubilation and get it to you in London. They only made 42 cases of that and its also not available outside the Winery.

  20. Abby Bielski says:

    Oh Jewel! You put a smile on my face ever time I read your blog!
    I also feel the need to raid my wine rack and find that it’s dismally boring. Also it’s 10am here.

  21. mitree says:

    To make a point being crazy, wine just has to be jugged by its cuver and I go with “Longue Dog”. Really, this is the only way to go!

  22. tera says:

    How fun! I didn’t recognize any of them until you got to the L’Ecole Recess Red. That one I do know, and I like it much! I’ll have to look for some of the other ones.
    Oh, and hey – I know it’s old news (!) but I have some Firefly artwork up on my blog I’d love you to see. 🙂

  23. The Captain says:

    It seems you may be a fan of Australian wine. If so when you are down under in Adelaide soon you should check out the barossa valley. http://www.barossa.com The barossa is one of the best places in oz for wine lovers. It’s over an hour’s drive from Adelaide but well worth the drive.

    Time for another drink, enjoy.

  24. Master Andy says:

    This is so out of date but I can’t even tell you how pleased I am to see Fetish – The Watcher on this list. I picked this one out because a) I’m a bird nerd and b) I like southern hemisphere reds and c) wanted something that wasn’t my regular $9 bottle of stay-in-on-a-Tuesday red and d) I’m a designer so I’m familair with this thing about picking a wine based on a cool label…. and I lovvvvved it. As soon as I saw this post, I thought, I should mention this wine, but hell you beat me to it before I was even done reading. Nice job! I also want to mention Sibling Rivarly was my go-to covert summer water-bottle-full-of-drunk-blackberries white last year, so clearly, we are kindred wine spirits. Screw BCL (sometimes) – hit up Viti on Seymour + Smithe. They know their stuff. Shiny indeed.

  25. Melanie says:

    That is awesome. I may have to try this with some friends some time. Although, we don’t have many “wine-os” in our group, but we can come up with something. 🙂

    Next time, make The Aristocrat type up his notes. haha!

  26. Stephen says:

    As I sit here sipping on a glass of White Zinfandel – well, not exactly slipping, slurping might be a more honest representation – I can’t help but comment on this blog. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this entry, although I’ve never seen any of these wines available in my part of the world (Eastern North Carolina). A very dear friend of mine who is teaching in Dubai was home for a week about a month ago, so I went out and purchased a Shiraz for us to try while she was visiting. We found it to be quite good, so I stock that on my wine rack now, along with all the other sweet wines that I typically consume. Our favorite eatery is The Country Squire located in neighboring Duplin County, and they’ve added a winery recently, which features some wonderful sweet wines (I can’t bring myself to drink Chardonnay – I’ve never had one that tasted like anything other than stagnant stump water). I strongly recomend their Apple Orchard Riesling, The Black Knight, and The Knicker Dropper. Anyway, we are planning to try out this idea of everyone bringing a bottle of wine for a gathering this summer when she returns for her next break. I will supply a Squire Wine, along with one from the Duplin Winery, and the Hinnant Family Vineyards. The latter has a really tasty Scuppernong variety. We’ll see how this progresses!

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