Since 2020, the Swarthmore CO-OP has offered a selection of beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages, helping to fulfill the needs of a campus with a substantial student body living entirely off of repressed feelings and Natty Light. My experience with alcohol at Swat has revolved mainly around Franzia, its famed Sunset Blush appellations receiving high marks from a panel of European sommeliers in the categories of “cheap” and “technically drinkable.” As a 22-year-old adult who can purchase alcohol legally (a statement my lawyer kept telling me to repeat in this article), I believe that I deserve better than wine that comes in a cardboard box and is from the enticing viticultural region of “Long Island.” I deserve a wine that’s at least $10 (but not more than $20, that’s crazy). To that end, I recently sampled five different wines in this price range (two red, two white, and one pink) from the CO-OP, judging them on taste and, more importantly, ability to get you shwasted. With this rubric, I will list their virtues and flaws below from worst to best. Take my advice when you’re buying wine, and you too can thoughtfully nibble on cheese and talk about a wine’s mouthfeel to your exasperated friends.
Hacienda Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, California (taste: 2/5; shwastedness: 1/5). This wine was not good. It tastes chalky — an adjective that usually describes my preferred sidewalk drawing apparatus, not red wine. It has a weird ability to stick to my tongue like fluoride paste at the dentist’s and leaves an aftertaste that reminds me of Sharples’ patio. It ranks low in shwastedness as well because I don’t know if it’s even possible to finish a glass. I recommend it as a gift to someone but only if you hate them.
Barefoot Moscato 2020, California, United States (taste: 4/5; shwastedness: 4.5/5). This is a classic wine that goes well with anything. With its lovely cloying sweetness and refreshing drinkability, it’s an easy swallow. That means you can watch your friend drink copious amounts and then watch them have a prolonged conversation with a tree. This is an everyman’s wine with a light touch that can be paired with almost anything, particularly Sharples’ cranberry juice. This variety, unfortunately, does come with bad memories of freshmen year parties, but otherwise it’s unimpeachable.
André Extra Dry California Champagne, 2020, California, United States (taste: 4/5; shwastedness: 5/5). The label of this wine mentions hints of apple and pear. I did not feel this, merely receiving hints of bubbles and hints of alcohol. I note that it tasted quite good, although not like a champagne: it’s too soft and not bubbly enough for that name (it’s also not from the Champagne region of France, as you might have guessed). The bubbles do scientifically increase absorption into the bloodstream and thus shwastedness. The only downside is that popping the cork was extremely stressful and made me fear for my bathroom mirror (what Taylor Swift would call “champagne problems”).
Seiano Paolo e Noemia d’Amico, Lazio, Italy (taste: 4.5/5; shwastedness: 3/5). This wine is from Italy, and has a fancy label with pretty patterns on it, making me feel refined and intellectual. Ironically, the bottle has Greek key on it, which bodes well for an Italian wine. There’s hardly any stickiness to the tongue: it has a smooth finish to it and pairs surprisingly well with hard cheeses. This is the second best of the wines we sampled and a worthy accompaniment to any nice meal. However, this wine makes me feel so fancy that I can’t drink more than half a glass, so I must dock its shwastedness score.
“Best Yet” Maraschino Cherry Juice (taste: 5/5; shwastedness: 0.5/5). So technically, this is the juice from a can of maraschino cherries and not actually wine. However, maraschino cherries contain more than trace amounts of alcohol and are not Halal. Therefore, I will be treating it as a wine. After drinking roughly a jar on my own in secret and then sharing one with friends, I can confidently say it has the best taste of anything we tried, although being maraschino cherry juice it isn’t very alcoholic. With an added bonus that pushes this to the top of the list, it comes with free cherries. Highly recommended.
With these recommendations, I believe I have sampled the cream of the $10 – $20 wine range at the market. If anyone would like to fund me to rate more expensive wines, I would happily take on this task on behalf of the public. But for now, I will be buying maraschino cherries for months to come.