Drink Better: One Man’s Plea To Raise The Bar On Booze For Every Occasion
Jul 2012 25

Drink Better: One Man’s Plea To Raise The Bar On Booze For Every Occasion

Posted In Blog,Booze,Food & Drink

by The Wine Guy


[Malloreigh in Sauced]

When you are a kid, unless you’re a fussy little twit, you will eat almost anything. You have very little understanding of the highs and lows of food. You may know that your mom’s meatloaf is yucky and that her pot roast is yummy, but that’s about it. When you first start drinking it is the same way. PBR, on sale! What luck!!!! Well you’re a purported adult now, so it is time to lay the crap down and drink better.

But how do I do it? There are so many choices! The most important thing to do is to find a good store with a wide selection – and inside of that store find a knowledgeable employee who can guide you. At this point in your life you may have some inklings as to what you like and do not like. You might be holding on to them tightly like someone adrift in the Pacific with a life preserver. These can either be a tool or an impediment to your success. Tell the employee that you like this wine and want to try something similar. If there is too much hesitation on their part, and they are not at the very least happy with what they finally choose, then they are probably not going to be a good guide. Take their recommendation home and try it. Did you like it? Did you hate it? Was it an interesting miss? When you report back, a good guide should be able to use that information to improve their selection, and you should learn something important about your taste.

However, there are now two possible problems: One, the employee does not know what they’re doing. Or two, when you return they are not there. Now you are faced with a giant wall of wine and have no guide. Arghhh! Fear not, there are some tricks you can use to make your gambling odds improve.

Wines to avoid include domestic wines labeled by state only. This means that they probably grabbed grapes from wherever they could find them from and it’s going to have a generic bland quality. Wines with the word “reserve” on them should also be avoided. The term has no official meaning and can be slapped onto to the world’s worst wine. Personally, I love it when there is no regular version, just the reserve; they must have thrown away the regular version as it was toxic, or they put those special grapes into their California blend!

Good things to find on the label include verbiage that indicates the case production is under a thousand. That means the winemaker touched every grape and every bottle. “Estate grown” is another great phrase. Unlike reserve, it is highly regulated and is usually a sign of quality. If you buy estate wine and it sucks, cross that winery off your list.

I know that there are internet reviews and phone apps that can look up wines, and in a pinch these things can be solid tools. What those things lack though is a personal relationship, flesh, blood, and interactive communication. Over time I know what my customers like and do not like, and as we move forward the wine choices get better and better. Plus, their pallets get broader and broader – and I don’t mean more and more expensive.

Almost without fail, the most expensive wine in your wine shop is not ready to be consumed and would be a great disappointment if you bought it for immediate consumption. These are the kind of wines that are designed to be aged, and just do not perform well when they’re young. That said, the myth of the $10 bottle that drinks like a $50 one is total bullshit. While there are plenty of overpriced wines and an almost equal amount of hidden gems, the fact remains that it costs money to make great wine. There are so many factors that go into the making of the wine: grapes, climate, time, facilities, barrels, equipment, and more.

But Keith, I do not want to drop everything that I am doing and become a big wino like you. Still, there’s is no need for you to join wine clubs, attend wine tastings, and buy every bottle of Cabernet Franc you can get your hand on. What you need to do is stop buying plonk. Whenever you decide that you want some wine – whether it be for a special occasion or for a Tuesday night dinner – take a little bit of time and buy a better bottle.

It could be that Spanish Garnacha for ten bucks instead of the Coppola, it might be the 347 case production instead of the Robert Mondavi, but please make an effort. You are an adult now and should care about what you are putting into your body. You gave up Twinkies and orange soda, now it’s time to give up lousy wine.

Demand that your store purchase local wines. Support real winemakers. It’s a win/win – these guys make wine for the love of it. You are purchasing their dreams, and in return you are getting a handcrafted wine. All you get when you buy a factory wine is the name on the label. Worse than that, you send a message to the people that run the shop you bought it from that they should buy more factory wines. And you tell the whole industry that factory is the way to go. Drink better folks. Spend a little, save a little, but either way put that crap down and enjoy a well made bottle of wine.

***

The Wine Guy sells wine for a living, and lives to drink it. It’s his first and foremost passion. He avoids factory wines, loves to seek out bottles that are interesting and unique, and gets excited when he finds a grape he’s have never heard of.

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