EST. May 2000 (AD)


Popular Columns:

The Happy Woman Guide to Wine and Spirits

By Savannah Lawless

If you normally leave the choice of wines to your snootier friends, fret no more! Just in time for holiday libations, here's our guide to wines and spirits for all occasions.

You don't have to be rich to serve wine. You only have to be rich to serve good wine. And you certainly don't have to be rich to serve cocktails. If Everclear and Kool-Aid is good enough for the HW staff, it's good enough for you. That said, here's our guide to choosing wines for any occasion without breaking the bank.


Rating Scale:

100 = as perfect as you can get for under $5.95

90 = tasty and cheap, a best buy

80 = perfect to give as a gift for that boss or co-worker you despise

("abv" = "alcohol by volume," which you'd know if you weren't so pathetically uncultured)

99 - Swann's "Easy Nights," abv 13%, vint. 12/15/05, $2.75. Fresh nose with appealing tones of apple, pear and mobile home paneling. Entry on the palate is smooth and sweet. Finishes nicely, with faint aftertaste of Sprite left in open can for three days. Suggested food pairings: spray cheese, Hot Chee-Tos, M&Ms. Highly recommended.

97 - Mogen David Concord Grape, abv 3%, vint. early 2005, $3.99. Strong, sweet nose and inky color. Lands violently on the palate like fortified Kool Aid. Communion wine flavor lingers several seconds after finishing. Kosher. Suggested food pairings: chocolate cake, baked Alaska, kosher TV dinner. Highly recommended.

93 - MD 20/20 "Key Lime Pie," abv 13.5%, vint. 12/2005, $1.49. Makes a splashy presentation, with its antifreeze-green colour. Nose is sweet yet tangy. Wakes up the tastebuds with a flavor we would call "Aqua Velva meets lime Jell-O." Suggested food pairing: hot dogs roasted on sticks over a bonfire made of hacked up pallets. Recommended.

90 - Wild Irish Rose "Wild Fruit with Ginseng," abv 18%, vint. last week, $2.49. Nose reeks of rubbing alcohol mixed with witch hazel. Sweet entry onto the palate, followed by tones of cherry, spice and formaldehyde. Finishes like sandpaper at the back of the tongue, followed by slow paralysis of the entire body. Suggested food pairings: Ritz Bits, partial hamburgers found in fast food dumpsters. Worth a try.

81 - Cisco "RED," abv 18%, vint. 20 minutes ago, $2.99. Classic skid row wine with a nose of Robitussin meets WD-40. Sweet palate entry, with flavors of fruit, high fructose corn syrup and well-worn (yet unwashed) wool socks. Finishes with a syrupy sweetness, not that you'll be conscious long enough to notice. Suggested food pairings: rum balls, office party fondu. Perfect gift for that least-favourite coworker on your list, especially if you insist they "try" the wine and then leave them passed out under a bridge frequented by actual bums. Recommended.


99 - Everclear, 190 proof (95% alcohol), $19.69 per 750ml bottle. Colorless, odorless, tasteless. What more can the amateur bartender want in a liquor? Mix it with anything - fruit juice, chocolate milk, Benefiber - to liven up any party or boring office meeting. Do not use around open flame. This favourite of the Happy Woman staff is our TOP PICK for holiday entertaining!

80 and below - Everything else. Nothing compares to Everclear. Nothing.

And there you have it! Serve these fine wines and spirits at your next part and be the envy of all your friends. Just make sure you have film in the Polaroid. Mixing Twister with Cisco RED usually leads to violent, clothes-stripping outbursts, and pictures of angry, naked friends are just the sort of thing you want to adorn next year's Christmas card. Right?

©2005 Elizabeth Hanes


ELIZABETH HANES holds a degree in creative writing from the University of New Mexico. She writes about art and antiques (hard to believe, eh?) for a variety of publications. She is also the long-suffering personal secretary of Savannah Lawless. ( She resides in New Mexico with her husband, two faithful pooches and a pair of surly cats.