How to choose a house wine… for your house

Do you take plenty of wine to a friend’s house, because you really can’t face what they usually offer? Worse still do you get the feeling people ‘over bring’ when they visit you for the same reason?

Is it time you have a ‘House’ House wine? … And if so what do you pick?

Restaurant House wine

A restaurant House Wine can split opinion. It is often deliberately avoided. The long standing tactic of ordering wines that are ‘two up’ from the cheapest usually circumvents ordering the house wine; and many a young gentlemen has attempted to pick a wine from halfway up a wine list in an attempt to impress a promising new date. In return I remember reading a thought provoking article on why you should ‘always’ pick the house wine. It suggested that when a restaurant chose a house wine, the owners are selecting a wine to represent them, and reflect the character of their food and establishment. Add to that the ‘economies of scale’ that buying in bulk allow, it will easily be the best value choice on the list.

I admit rather sheepishly to falling into all the categories above at one time or another in the past. I do remember for a period of time ordering the house wine whenever possible to test the theory, and whilst it depends on the establishment, I do feel as a theory it does hold water. (If I had to elaborate, I would suggest that if it is a restaurant you frequent relatively often, it is certainly worth trying, especially if it is an independent business rather than a larger chain.)

How to choose a house wine for your house‘House’ House Wine

So what makes a house wine and do you need a house wine for your house? For me this is answered by some very simple criteria.

  1. Do you regularly drink wine at home?
  2. Do you have lots of friends and visitors who drink wine?

If the answer to ‘either’ of these is yes then I would suggest you would benefit from a house wine. I am certainly not suggesting that this should be the ‘only’ bottle in your wine rack, but it could become your ‘goto’ wine in a number of situations

The best way I can describe a ‘house’ house wine is when you have come to the end of a bottle with friends, it’s the one that you reach for again without hesitation. Your not worried about the quality, or the cost.

What wine to select?

What to pick as your House Wine? More criteria…

  1. You need something that you look forward to enjoying at the end of the week.
  2. It accompanies a number of dishes you cook.
  3. It can be opened when you ‘need’ a #winewednesday glass after a tough day.
  4. It does not require checking your bank statements before you buy another bottle.
  5. Other people will enjoy it too. (I really enjoy a couple of Gewurztraminer’s but that would be too restrictive and not to everyone’s taste)

As it happens I am writing this as I am considering changing ‘my’ house wine. At present I consider that the Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel is our house wine. It meets the criteria above as most of my family and friends are partial to red wine, and it helps makes the most of my skills in the kitchen as it matches most of my nightly offerings.

Before the Ravenswood it was the Beyerskloof Pinotage and whilst I still enjoy it, I think the earlier vintages were better and currently I prefer the Ravenswood. However I feel I am starting to turn again. I feel some of the Malbec’s that are currently available offer great value and a big fruit flavour. So is it time for a change?

Enjoy the Task

Having a ‘House’ House wine is not like a restaurant; you are not tied in for a long period of time, and can change easily. It does not have to be the cheapest bottle you buy, but buying in greater bulk may reduce the cost per bottle.

I am sure I will enjoy road testing some Malbecs to see if they will surpass my current house wine, and I am sure that the process of selecting your own house wine will not be the worse task you undertake in 2017. Consider what will pair well with the foods you regularly cook, your budget, and what you (and your partner, friends and family) enjoy. Create a shortlist and go explore.

After all it is research, and I am sure a school teacher once declared to you how vital research is.

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