It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one’s present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason. Latin saying Forsake not an old friend; for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old, thou shalt drink it with pleasure. Sirach 9:10 “Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.”— Michael Broadbent Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy. Benjamin Franklin Following these age-old admonitions, we recently had three couples over to explore wine, food, and friendship. Elizabeth and Steve Hopp, Rick and Deborah Grandinetti, and Charlie and Kathleen Gill – great long-term friends who share a love of the grape. We had six wines, three whites and three reds. The results were scattered. One white garnered a 92 from one taster while someone else only gave it an 80. Same thing with one of the reds – a real love/hate deal. This one got both a 94 and an 80. My conclusion – not everyone likes the same thing. We started with a 2011 Alphonse Dolly Sancerre. This is an Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France. Grassy in appearance, citrus in taste, Terry loved it, giving it a 93, praising its long acidic finish with great balance. Steve thought it was okay but a little tart. Average score: 89. Then the tasting spectrum hit with the 2008 Brewer Clifton Santa Maria Chardonnay. Scores ranged from 83 to the evening’s high of 95. One anonymous critic that evening described it as a bit bitter and that it had “lost its legs in a wine press accident.” On the other side of the scale, another taster said, “Buttery and creamy.” Average score: 89.5 Finishing the wines was a Rhone blend from Paso Robles, 2014 Tablas Creek Esprit Blanc. Our comedian from the Chardonnay loved it, giving it a 92, declaring, “Wow! Mary Hart’s Legs!” I enjoyed the tropical fruit taste but others really didn’t like it at all. Average score: 85.5. Jumping to reds, we began with the 2008 Domain Les Verrieres, a Syrah from France’s Rhone Valley. French wines are often more linear than our California take on the same grapes, more of a rollercoaster, going from pleasant to full bodied but something not lasting as long. This was the least favorite of the three reds, not receiving a score above 89. Peppery and berry flavors. Average score: 87.5. Then our surprise of the evening: 2012 Casa de Santar from Portugal, composed of Portuguese grapes, Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro, and Tinta Roriz. This wine demonstrated the value in tasting blind. No knew what we were drinking, as every bottle was served in a classy brown paper bag. For one taster it was a “Home Run!” Others commented on its leathery aroma and berry tastes. Average score: 89.5. Finally, we sampled a 2007 Quilceda Creed Red, which is the entry-level Cabernet Sauvignon from the vaunted Washington winery. I’ve always found this to be quite enjoyable and reasonably priced. Elizabeth loved it, saying it was her favorite of the evening. Smooooth, with notes of berry and coffee. Average score: 88.75. We finished with what everyone enjoyed even though it was something new, a 2003 Chateau Suduirant, from Sauternes, France, which produces the finest sweet wine that has such an exquisite balance of acid and sugar that you almost don’t realize it is sweet. Thank you to my friends for providing such a delightful evening.