Photo: ITV

Twelve Imaginary Downton Abbey Drinks More Interesting Than The Actual Downton Abbey Wine

The Downton Abbey wine is out and it's really kind of boring. On the eve of the show's return, Stephanie Lucianovic tells us what she would have done with the libations idea if anyone had thought to ask her thirsty opinion.

Photo: Downton Abbey Wines

Photo: Downton Abbey Wines

These days it feels like everybody famous has his or her own a wine (or tequila or Mansinthe or weird-ass crystal skull of vodka), so it's no surprise that a television show banged out its own wine label, but I expected something more interesting, or a little more nudge-nudge-wink-wink, from the folks behind Downton Abbey (or those to whom they licensed their brand).

The two wines — a white and a red — are several steps (and price points) removed from Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck, but the best thing I can say about their flavor and label is that they are inoffensive. They're...fine.

Okay, they're really pretty boring, actually. Neither the claret nor the blanc are going to strip the enamel off your teeth, and they'll probably go well with most foods, but I think the Downton Abbey Wine people missed their opportunity to have a lot of fun with this idea. So since they didn't, I did.

Earl of Grantham Claret

At first sip, this traditional claret attempts to tempt your palate with greatness, but it disappoints more than it inspires. Don't pair it with anything unexpected: just go straight for benign comfort foods. We suggest Yorkshire pudding, over-boiled beef, and anything that blots out progress.

Countess of Grantham Pink Catawba

The most interesting thing about this slightly frivolous wine from the Ohio Valley is that the Catawba grape is susceptible to a fungal grape disease that could result in a near-death experience. It's a largely languid wine that doesn't put up much of a fight with most foods, but doesn't really enhance the eating experience either. Best drunk before bed since it has intensely soporific effects.

Dowager Countess of Grantham Amontillado Sherry

Most people are put off by the sticky sweet sherries that have been pushed on them over the years by be-doilied old ladies and earnest vicars. However, what tiny amount of sweetness that can be found in this Amontillado is mostly overshadowed by an intense and refreshing dryness. Never drink this sherry without first checking to make sure your finger is slightly — but not ostentatiously — crooked, your clothes are properly tweed, and your tongue is exceedingly quippy.

Lady Mary Crawley Pinot Noir

Harsh and antagonistic on the nose, this secretive Pinot Noir pairs quite well with many kinds of foods, from bland British fare to spicy Turkish platters. Needs to be decanted.

Lady Edith Crawley White Zinfandel

Overly sweet and spineless, the only thing holding this sad sack of a White Zinfandel up is the stem of the glass. Most drinkers take one sip of this wine and leave the rest undrunk. Look to future vintages for character improvement, but don't get your hopes up.

Lady Sybil Crawley Pinot Grigio

Don't let the elegance of the gently harvested Pinot grapes fool you: this enterprising white drinks well with either delicate sole meunière or hearty, thick Colcannon. A quaff to die for.

Matthew Crawley Côtes de Rhone

At first sniff, this Rhone blend can come off a bit offensive as the workhorse Carignan grapes appear not to mingle well with the more genteel Syrah. However, once left to breathe, it has a fairly easy drinking bouquet that grows in strength once you let it take control of your glass. Top notes of tears and motor oil.

Isobel Crawley Tea

This bracing builder's tea, which is so strong you can stand a spoon up in it, is just what the doctor ordered when recovering from the daily strains of co-mother-in-lawing and leading an endlessly well-meaning, if interfering, life. After all, alcohol's bad for your liver.

Tom Branson Stout

It's Irish, it's Guinness, nothing more to see here.

Mr. Carson Port

Round and juicy, this ruby port will love any after-dinner cheese plate you have mind to produce. Don't be afraid to give it a cheese challenge, either: its alcoholic girth means it's largely unflappable when set against stinky blue cheeses that ooze with secret ambition or dry Cheddars that have rogue veins breaking up their largely predictable nature. It even drinks well with those pathetic bits of cheese that just need a bit of bloom scraped off to be made edible again. It might be suspicious of foreign cheeses, though, so keep the Camemberts away from it.

John Bates Red Wine

Swirl this hearty, basic table red around in your glass and you'll see it has legs (though maybe not as many as it should). While it's an eminently affordable wine and one that seems to excite great passion even at the unlikeliest tables, you must take care not to drink it to the exclusion of every other wine for you will either tire of its unrelenting presence or it will give you (alleged) alcohol poisoning.

Sarah O'Brien Bitter

You can find this coarse, dark bitter in any pub serving room-temperature beers. It pours out a nice sudsy head that produces a soapy mouthfeel and it will sneak up on you and knock you on your ass if you don't look sharpish.

I'll tell you what, I'd drink a Lady Mary with a good rare steak and finish my night with a glass of Mr. Carson. Cheers!