by Fred McMillin
for May 7, 1997

Was the Wine a Success? (A Case History)

Prologue: "I'm having 30 ladies for lunch, all busy movers and shakers in San Francisco. Please recommend a wine that's under $10."

The Rest of the Story: I receive questions like that frequently. In this case, I asked about the menu and then suggested a wine. Afterward, I always want to know whether it scored big or bombed. Asking the hostess doesn't work because she'll always say it was good. Instead I use the "Five-Ounce Test." Here's the procedure.

The Five-Ounce Test

Count the number of bottles consumed. Multiply by 25 to obtain the ounces consumed. Divide by the number of wine drinkers. If the result is much under five ounces per person, the wine was a poor choice. If the ounces per person is well over five, serve that one again. OK, so how did the wine for the 30 ladies do? The envelope, please.

In round numbers we have 8 1/2 bottles equals 210 ounces, divided by 30 gives 7 ounces per person...A WINNER! So, here's a good, large-group wine to serve with a fish or fowl luncheon for active folks who are going on to a busy afternoon.

1995 M.G. Vallejo Chardonnay
A light Chardonnay not too stern for the casual wine drinker.

Postscript: The M.G. Vallejo brand was created in recognition of the General's considerable contribution to both Sonoma and Napa winegrowing. In Sonoma, he was the area's first commercial vintner. As for Napa, he furnished the first wine vines ever planted in the valley. He gave the vines to George Yount as payment for George's covering the Vallejo home with something unknown in California at that time, a shingle roof.

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.

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