Wine lovers who are foolish enough – or simply far too curious – sooner or later end up discovering the various rating systems wine professionals have devised to play with each other’s minds and baffle the wine buying public. Pay no attention!
The Five Star system is visually very friendly. But unless the wine is made in Hollywood or sold in Texas (where they must have a lot of truly feeble Lone Star wines) who really cares how many stars it gets?
Magazines like ‘The Wine Dictator, ‘Wine Excess’ and ‘The Wine Avocado’ usually use a point system to rate wines. Simple $12 wines often get the same 87/100 points (or 17.5/20 points) that $95 blockbuster ultra-deluxe wines get.
An alternative to this suspicious bafflegab is the Ooh! Oooh!! Ooooh!!! system. Totally casual, stridently subjective and gloriously hedonistic, this system can be used – and often is – by less than professional wine lovers. Although you’ve surely already seen it in action, you may, in fact and unknowingly have used it yourself.
The “Ooh!” in a One Ooh! Wine is that pleasant surprise that sometimes comes with the first sip of an untried wine. Roughly translated it means: “This stuff’s pretty good! What did it cost? Maybe I should get more, anyway.”
Cal Y Canto Tempranillo Merlot Syrah (497560) $10.99 is a luscious Spanish blend of 80 per cent Tempranillo with 15 per cent Merlot and 5 per cent Syrah… Rich, sweet and intense. It is loaded with raspberry and black cherry aromas, cedar chips and pretty violet notes with a hint of vanilla.
An interesting One Ooh! Wine, from Italy, Farnese Trebbiano (636381) $12.79 is a weighty white with a textured medley of lemon apple and melon aromas and flavours and a twist of wet chalk in the finish.
The “Ooh! Oooh!!” in a Two Oooh!! Wine comes after that first “Ooh!” This kind of wine turns out to have a lot more layers of flavour flaring up in your mouth. Roughly translated it means: “What a beauty! Who brought this? I’m going to have to find out where they got this yummy stuff and how to get some more.”
If you brought a Two Oooh!! Wine like Kapuka Sauvignon Blanc (504084) $15.99 yourself, you’ll be starting to pat yourself on the back because other people with the same wine in their glasses will be making awed and appreciative noises, too. The underlying flavours of gooseberry, lime and clove in this sassy New Zealand white are dusted with a quiet gravelly edge.
A Two Oooh!! Value from California, Chateau St. Jean Soirée (473025) $15.49 is a rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah and Malbec. Aromas and flavours of cassis, blackberry, and raspberry slide into vanilla, chocolate, and smoke lead into leather with velvety soft acidity and firm tannins on the finish.
The “Ooh! Oooh!! Ooooh!!!” in a Three Ooooh!!! Wine can come right after the first sip and is often driven by intense and concentrated aromas and flavours so rich that they seem to coat the insides of your mouth like silky honey or black truffles. No experience is necessary to make this kind of assessment. You just have to really like the stuff.
The wine should be indescribably delicious and your enjoyment and appreciation must exceed your ability to turn what is, after all, a very sensual and hedonistic experience into mere words. Sometimes these three “Oooohs!!!” are soft little gasping sounds. Don’t put your glass down when there are other wine lovers around.
In that Three Ooooh!!! zone from the Okanagan Valley Joie Noble Blend (882027) $23.90 is an astonishingly tasty white BC VQA blend of Gewürztraminer and Riesling with a dab of Pinot Auxerrois, a splash of Pinot Blanc and Muscat and a dash of Schönburger. Gooseberry, guava, passionfruit and apple lead the parade of flavours. Ooh! Oooh!! Ooooh!!!
There’s definitely Three Oooohs!!! of complexity in Zuccardi Tito (848705) $49.99 from Argentina. Mostly Malbec co-fermented with 10 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 12 per cent of the unusual Italian red Ancelotta, from Altamira in the Valle de Uco. Deep, dark, blueberry and blackberry notes set the stage for inky liquorice and hazelnut notes in the finish.
Try rating any of these wines, yourself, around the dinner table at Thanksgiving!
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