Cheap wines that taste like hangovers.
June 10, 2011 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Judging wine by the label.
posted by shakespeherian (130 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
I fully admit that the reason I tried Les Heretiques is the awesome label. It is also cheap and delicious.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:57 AM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I like a nice mountain, preferably in the middle distance." —Calvin Trillin
posted by RogerB at 8:58 AM on June 10, 2011


I also bought a bottle of Beaulieu once solely because there's a company that shares the name that makes the most beautiful super 8 camera on the planet. The wine was quite good.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:00 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, I do this and I am not ashamed.

Thank, shakespherian (hee), for creating this safe space for us.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:01 AM on June 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


If I followed this advice, I would have to go home and pour out every bottle in my stash.
posted by tomswift at 9:02 AM on June 10, 2011


For years, I chose my wine based on exactly this -- the picture on the label.

Then I dated a sommelier for 2 years, and learned a bit more about what it means when you say a wine is "dry" (I honestly didn't know), about what syrah is, what it means when a wine is "oaky", and about what I actually did and didn't like.

Then the sommelier and I broke up back in 2003, and I have reverted back to selecting wine based on the picture on the label.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 AM on June 10, 2011 [28 favorites]


Since the maturing of the native wine industry and the opening up of the global market, it's actually hard to pick up a really truly awful wine in a US shop. Sure there's rotgut, but in the mid market, which is huge and most wine, if you're buying domestic, a ten dollar bottle is not 10 times less tasty then a twenty. You might as well use label design, 80% of the time it's gonna be just fine, and sometimes quite good.

Love,

Your friendly neighborhood lush.
posted by The Whelk at 9:07 AM on June 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


Almost all the wine I buy falls under the "Animals Doing Things" category, but that's because I almost exclusively buy southeast Australian chardonnay. So that means plenty of indigenous-looking illustrations of kangaroos and such.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:07 AM on June 10, 2011


Personally, I go for a nice Attilla The Hun white
posted by briank at 9:08 AM on June 10, 2011


I read a book about wine, so I at least know what some of the words mean. However, while I do taste differences among wines, I can't say that any of them taste "good" exactly and there certainly seems to be little or no correlation between variety and taste. So yeah...the label. (I would buy the hell out of that space wine nathancaswell linked to.)
posted by DU at 9:08 AM on June 10, 2011


You just need to know enough to know what you like, I can't stand strays for examples, and I Oerter Californians over almost anything.

(he said, hiding the Montrachet behind his back. IT'S MINE AND YOU CAN'T HAVE IT)
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on June 10, 2011


....er prefer.


I was in Budapest and they had really awful stuff on sale at huge prices cause it was exciting and imported from California while the really good stuff from nearby was priced more like two buck chuck.

Wine prices are nuts.
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 AM on June 10, 2011


So apparently there is a wine named Bitch? Is that for real? For accompanying salads and smiling, I guess?
posted by boo_radley at 9:11 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unless it literally tastes like those sweat socks that wine people insist on using as a flavor comparison, you still end up with a bottle of wine you can drink. And last time I checked, a bottle of wine will get you nicely buzzed...

This sort of invalidates everything else this person has to say. If this is the way you feel about it, why aren't you always drinking two-buck chuck or, hell, OE?
posted by gurple at 9:12 AM on June 10, 2011


My local bar's "white wine" is Jealous Bitch. It has a dog on the label.

I would say it is perfectly okay.
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just look for whichever wine promises to be sweet like frosting. Surprisingly, there's plenty of competition on this front. Cupcake Vineyards, you're off to a good start.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:15 AM on June 10, 2011


Ha. This is awesome. I know a little about wine, but I ultimately go down to the label trick every time. It's never really led me astray, except for the one time that I bought Vampire Wine, which was shit.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, $2 Chuck is perfectly fine, but varies season by season.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2011


You might want to look into Ice Wines from the finger lakes and Quebec, 2bucks, it's made from grapes that have been allowed to freeze when they're small, so they're super, super, super sweet.
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2011


One of my old co-workers brought in a bunch of bottles of what he called "It's the thought that counts" wine for anyone to take. He was a big wine drinker, and these were the bottles people gave him that he knew he wouldn't enjoy. He said that most of them were from people that didn't drink wine but probably liked the labels at the store.

On a separate occasion he warned me to be careful about getting into wine: "It's fun to get into different wines and find your tastes, but if you go too far you're going to be a miserable wine drinker that is seldom happy with what other people serve". He was, of course, referring to himself.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:18 AM on June 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


One trick that has gotten me several times is the fake drastic price slash. This wine costs $20, but we're selling it for $10 (I'm looking at you, Mankas and Bonair)! Wow, I'm going to grab me some of that! Except that, a month later, they're still selling it for $10... and a month later, still $10....

I've gotten perfectly good wines that way for the price I paid, but after I internalize that the "original price" is a fantasy, I somehow still feel cheated.
posted by gurple at 9:20 AM on June 10, 2011


It's important to separate out your distinguished, precise tounge from your I just want to drink something that doesnt give me a headache tounge.

This go for a lot of enthusiast/geek things as well.
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have purchased four of the wines pictured in that article and only regret one. A fifth was a gift from the boyfriend, because I love moose. "Honey, look — you know how I love moose, right? Well, look at these crazy moose! They are wearing sunglasses!” That's totally me.

My favorite awesome-label impulse-buy wine has a dragon on the back label that you can see through the bottle.
posted by alynnk at 9:22 AM on June 10, 2011


10 DRINK WINE
20 GOTO 10

Once you become sufficiently sure of yourself to pour a crappy bottle down the sink, you can call yourself an expert. That is, after all, the appropriate level of expertise. Anything more is probably just annoying.
posted by ryanrs at 9:22 AM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rarely is a red wine bad enough it can't be Mulled.

You can use shitty white whine for cooking.

Throwing something down the sink is the nuclear optiion, and man ...I did that more times in Paris then I'd like to admit.
posted by The Whelk at 9:24 AM on June 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


If this is the way you feel about it, why aren't you always drinking two-buck chuck or, hell, OE?

I think he's coming from the buzz as either a pleasant reward or at least a consolation prize, depending on how the wine is.

I'm not big into the wine scene, but when I do I think of it like I'm shopping for a chair: I could by a fancy, expensive chair, or one with an interesting design, or just buy one that's a decent deal, but with any chair I buy, at least I know I'm going to have somewhere to sit. If I need a chair, I'm not going to avoid buying one just because it's not a fancy leather chair. In either case, I get a place to sit.
posted by chambers at 9:24 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


2bucks, sounds like you and I have similar palates -- the sommelier introduced me to Moscato wines, which also are really sweet.

I admitted on our first date that I knew nothing about wine, and he asked a couple of random questions (how spicy did I like salsa, did I like dark or mlik chocolate better, etc.), then ordered me something and it was the most delicious wine I'd ever had. I got out a pen and said, "just in case this evening takes a really wrong turn somewhere, can you tell me again what I drank so I can always order it?" It was a Moscato -- Moscato d'Asti, to be precise, but the Moscatos in general are all sweet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 AM on June 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


2bucksplus: "Also, $2 Chuck is perfectly fine, but varies season by season."

But sadly not for sale in my state. I had to smuggle it back from the much more progressive state of Indiana last time I was driving through.
posted by octothorpe at 9:26 AM on June 10, 2011


I spent a number of years in fine wine sales, retail, then wholesale. One quickly gets cynical about what the consumer wants, especially when (at least back then) the *really* good stuff had shitty labels almost as a matter of form. A flashy label meant a consumer-grade, predictable, boring, clean wine most of the time. And it turns out that that is what most people want, and that's just fine. (And that's still somewhat true, although plenty of small producers are now hip to the label game. California really led the way, but Australia perfected it, along with making cheap quaffable plonk that sort of resembles real wine.)*

But one of my favorite stories apropos of nothing: during rush times, the big retail accounts would pull in wholesale salesmen and warehouse workers from their big distributors. It was an expectation that we'd do a few hours on the sales floor or offloading trucks at Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and June grad/wedding season especially, when you might be moving 50 cases of Freixenet a day. For those of us in wholesale sales, it was also a good way to push our product on the sales floor and build future custom, and to educate the regular sales staff so they'd push our product too.

So one Christmas eve (as I recall it), I was working the floor in a retail account and one of our warehouse guys (I'll call him D.) was there too, primarily to move inventory around. We were so slammed that even D. was out on the floor selling. He was a blue collar guy, not a fine wine salesman. We should have considered that before unleashing him on the general wine-buying public.

So the store is buzzing and hopping and suddenly from across the floor I hear D. shouting in his inimitable Boston Portuguese working class best accent:

"IS THIS DRY? IS THIS DRY? LADY HOW CAN IT BE FUCKING DRY WHEN IT'S FUCKING WET!"

Moments later a posse of salesmen descended on the scene to save the customer (not likely) and steer D. back down to the basement to unload cases of Freixenet. But we were laughing so hard I think we pissed the customer off even more, because all of us had wished we could say that so many times before.

*
Not to knock all Aussie wine. The *single* most memorable wine I've ever drunk in my entire life was a 1978 Hill Smith South Australian Shiraz, which I drank in 1989. At 11 years old it tasted like a 25 year old Beaucastel. And it was $2.99 retail when my pal (another wine salesman with a goooood nose) decided to put six cases of it down in the early 80s. I've had $250 bottles of Cote Rotie and Chateauneuf de Pape that didn't come close to the complexity or the fruit of this wine.

posted by fourcheesemac at 9:27 AM on June 10, 2011 [26 favorites]


Rob Walker (NYT columnist and author of Consumed and Buying In) used to have a series on his blog, The International Review of Wine Packaging and Aesthetics.

I suggested that he and I run a contest on wine bottle / label design, which was ostensibly to recognize good design work. We'd have different categories (regions, varietals, etc.), and would select annual winners, and so on. In reality, it was just a scheme to score lots of wine for free.

He was into the idea, but ... well ... "me" and "follow through" aren't always on good terms.
posted by Alt F4 at 9:29 AM on June 10, 2011


For a time it seemed people were outgrowing Wine Snark, but here we have an article that says "buy whatever, it'll be okay", and then there's a cavalcade of agreement. Some people who like wine take themselves too seriously, and a certain amount of twitting is fine, but when an article channeling PJ O'Rourke says (explicitly) the label's an adequate indicator of adequate wine, there are two possible points to it: 1) any wine is OK (and therefore paying attention to the label is foolish, because changing the label would change the purchase decision without changing the wine in the bottle); 2) the author has nothing to say and yet needs an article.
posted by jet_silver at 9:30 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Defined more by what they are not. Which is not a bad thing, I don't think.

I don't think this is not a bad thing, either--but I prefer that they aren't defined by what they are not.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:31 AM on June 10, 2011


Vampire Merlot not $2.00 a bottle.
posted by bjgeiger at 9:32 AM on June 10, 2011


Wouldn't you buy a bottle of this wine for a romantic dinner?
posted by PapaLobo at 9:42 AM on June 10, 2011


Right now I am drinking Thomas Fogarty 2006 "Skyline" Red Wine. A very nice cabernet sauvignon / merlot blend from the SF Bay Area. $12
posted by ryanrs at 9:44 AM on June 10, 2011


1) any wine is OK...2)the author has nothing to say and yet needs an article.

When I see people's eyes kinda glaze over and then wander about in a store with large wine selection, I see where this article is helpful. It's a quick, helpful tip about how to narrow down your choices. He's not saying design is an absolute predictor. I know I prefer certain kinds of wine, but other than that, when faced with 30-50 types of the same style of wine, I just start looking at prices, and avoid labels that are trying to be silly or ironically funny.

If one is running a business, it's hard to say that the design of your product or signage doesn't say at least something about what is inside. Sure, it's obvious when you have really cheesy things like sports figures or cartoon animals on a wine bottle, but the 'graphic design subcalss' parts had a neat breakdown on what may be inside. The makers of the wine chose the label, so at the least you may get some clues to what the makers are going for.

I think you're being a hint too hard on this article. The article's not trying to be some Rosetta Stone for decoding labels, but it's a slightly amusing, reasonably helpful tip to those who don't really focus on the wine scene and just want to try stuff out. He also saying you're going to find some crap wine here and there, but at least he's still encouraging experimentation, and reducing the little 'fear' of buying a bad wine and feeling like an idiot by making it a bit more fun though label-gazing.
posted by chambers at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like beer. If you tell me the size of the brewery, the style, and the ABV, I can probably tell you the price of a six-pack.

For wine it's more like: price = $2 + (rodent-free * $8) + (celebrity-involved * $75)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:59 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, about the Fogarty label:
As shown in the pdf, the label is perfectly boring. It could have been a template that was included with the label design software. On a positive note, the terrain strongly resembles the hills surrounding the real vineyard (I grew up in the area).
posted by ryanrs at 10:03 AM on June 10, 2011


You can use shitty white whine for cooking.

WHAT

Never cook with wine you wouldn't drink.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:04 AM on June 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


The Maywines seem to be sweet and yummy this year; paired with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and slices of apple. Eight bucks of wine; paired w/ $10+ of fruit. Hmmm. Productivity in a bottle and on a plate: Not.
posted by buzzman at 10:05 AM on June 10, 2011


I've been suckered by vampire wine. And Transylvanian wine. I even found some Dracula wine once. Because I am pathetic in some regards.

Anyway, I find a truly horrible wine to be as enjoyable as a truly good wine. You get the same level of complexity to a flavour - is that decay of cabbage I detect, or is it more decay of cucumber? Is the nose a bit mushroomy, or is it more a sort of microwaved wet panda smell? Just how reminiscent of urine is the colour really, and would the pisser in question need a kidney complaint to really get the colour right? Should it be paired with french fries, or is it more of a dessert wine that would go well with chocolate "mousse" from a can? Should the cheese platter switch from hardened homebrand cheddar to a softer collection of velveetas and Kraft Creme Cheeze spread?

You can really get into the same sort of bouquet disassembly for a fraction of good wine prices.
posted by Jilder at 10:07 AM on June 10, 2011 [26 favorites]


Never cook with wine you wouldn't drink.

I have to agree with that. Since most of the alcohol is going to cook off, you're only going to be left with whatever made the wine taste bad in the first place.
posted by chambers at 10:07 AM on June 10, 2011


I don't want to disassemble microwaved wet panda in my mouth.
posted by ryanrs at 10:11 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't make. Risotto with the shitty wine but I don't mind having a new supply of pan-cleaning fluid.

Should have been more exact.

Oh if you are 17 and working on a documentary do not accept a case of home made wine in leiu of payment. It will smell like vodka and make you throw up.
posted by The Whelk at 10:13 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am very pleased to have found a cheap and delicious red to use as our "house wine" at home. La Casona is only $8.50 or so and has the added benefit of having a BIG FRICKIN HOUSE ICON on it so that no matter how inebriated I get I can easily identify it in the wine fridge.
posted by Kabanos at 10:15 AM on June 10, 2011


Why is that wine in the fridge? Explain yourself!
posted by ryanrs at 10:16 AM on June 10, 2011


We just got back from Madrid and my rule during vacation was that the only meal I couldn't have wine with was breakfast. All of the house wines (save one Tempranillo which had an awful battery acid taste) were excellent, and significantly cheaper than getting soft drinks.

What I really want to find at home is a restaurant/bar that sells a house wine by the glass for the same cost as a pint of beer. It seems to be impossible around here.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2011


NYT did a cooking test where they compared expensive stuff and cheap swill, cheap swill did ok.
posted by subtle-t at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: It will smell like vodka and make you throw up.
posted by Rangeboy at 10:19 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I find a truly horrible wine to be as enjoyable as a truly good wine.

I want to see a 'bad wine/cooking show', shot in a moving boxcar with one of the doors rolled open, rolling countryside just whizzing by, and friendly old hobo chef, who has slipped the chains of the restaurant kitchen prison to live a life of freedom, selling all he owns to live a life in his cheaply customized boxcar kitchen-house. Cook food on the cheap, meet, dine with, and interview whomever comes along, and get some old-time history about the country they are going through. Maybe get Thunderbird to sponsor it.
posted by chambers at 10:23 AM on June 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


okay i'll just come right out and i admit it - i like the bottles with the aminals.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 10:29 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jilder, I rarely say this but your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. I don't always eat like that but when I do, I can never pair a wine with it. Would you apply all your oenophilic skills and point me to the reasonably priced wine that would go well with poutine made with vegetarian mushroom gravy?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:45 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Never cook with wine you wouldn't drink.

I am generally not fond of whites, but I wouldn't make a garlic pasta sauce with a bottle of merlot. Ugh. But I honestly can't tell a good chardonay from bad.
posted by GuyZero at 10:45 AM on June 10, 2011


What about judging a wine by the design of the tetra pak?
posted by Kabanos at 11:05 AM on June 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like tetra pak wine? Am I a bad person?
posted by GuyZero at 11:07 AM on June 10, 2011


Bandit Tetra Pack wine is better then it has any right to be. It's the default Wine In The Pantry.
posted by The Whelk at 11:08 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm also a fan of animals doing things. Typical me at the liquor store: "Oooooh, Let's get the chicken wine!" Here's a tip for wine makers, PUT SOME KITTIES ON THERE AND THEY'LL SELL LIKE HOTCAKES.
posted by troublewithwolves at 11:10 AM on June 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Y'know, the Voga Quattro, despite being the poster child for a wine bottle looking like a bottle of shampoo, and using ads which are more about the model, is actually quite drinkable for an under $10 wine.

Never cook with wine you wouldn't drink.

YMMV. I have a batch of Riesling that my GF and I made, and I needed to work harder at it. It's way too acidic to drink with pleasure. But I've found it to be a terrific cooking wine, much better in some recipes than stuff I'd actually drink and enjoy.
posted by tyllwin at 11:14 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that cooking wine line gets thrown around cause the stuff sold as cooking wine in most stores is bad enough to strip paint and cause burns on contact.
posted by The Whelk at 11:15 AM on June 10, 2011


"IS THIS DRY? IS THIS DRY? LADY HOW CAN IT BE FUCKING DRY WHEN IT'S FUCKING WET!"

Oh man, I just laughed until I cried. Thanks, fourcheesemac, because now my entire office would like to know 'what's so funny?' I clearly have to hit my dad up for some stories (he used to own a winery in Los Angeles selling re-packaged wholesale wine on the Westside).

For all that I should have an inheritance of lovely wine knowledge, I admit to still picking wines based on grape and then label. Spoiled by my time in Madrid--I definitely second backseatpilot's experience with the lovely, cheap house wines there--I never remember what California or Australian wines are any good. Ah well, label and grape usually works fairly well.
posted by librarylis at 11:38 AM on June 10, 2011


I drink two-buck Chuck, and find it to be perfectly acceptable (although I have admittedly poured one or two godawful bottles down the sink). What can I say? I'm a cheap date.

That said, I've always been suspicious that it's possible to ship a glass bottle from California to DC intact, put it on a shelf, and sell it for $3. The fact that those bottles happen to be filled with fairly good wine is nothing short of a miracle.
posted by schmod at 11:38 AM on June 10, 2011


Is there literally decent wine that costs $3? When I'm buying a "cheap" bottle I'm looking from $8.99-$12.99.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:39 AM on June 10, 2011


Once I had wine that tasted of nothing so much as cheese. Kraft singles, specifically. The sad thing was that it had been recommended to me by the clerk at the wine store. Our conclusion was that it had to have gone off or something, but we were all too lazy to take it back for a refund (and to share the wonder of the cheese wine).
posted by asperity at 11:40 AM on June 10, 2011


My parents -- Dad, mostly -- drank practically nothing but Gallo jug wine for decades. I have come, therefore, to detest rotgut, and rightfully so I might hope. As a result, though, I have no real appreciation for great wine -- I just know when I've moved up enough to have decent.
posted by dhartung at 11:43 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


$2 Chuck was basically a fluke. The first batch was actually quite good. It was originally made for another buyer, but for some reason that deal fell through and it ended up at Trader Joe's. Every bottle since then has been coasting on the reputation of that first good batch.
posted by ryanrs at 11:46 AM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think that cooking wine line gets thrown around cause the stuff sold as cooking wine in most stores is bad enough to strip paint and cause burns on contact.

That and I had a roommate (not naming names) who would leave a half bottle of wine sitting on the table for like a week after opening it and say 'It's okay if it turns we can just cook with it then.'
posted by shakespeherian at 11:48 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Word Play: “Pinot Evil? Ah … cute. Look at those monkeys!”
What to Expect: Would it blow your mind if I told you that these wines were incredible? Well … they aren't. They're the same crap as all the stuff above.

Assumption: not a fan of Randall Grahm.

He makes some very tasty and very oddly named wines. ... and he himself is called the Rhone Ranger...
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:04 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also pick wines by grape, then label and have drank several of the wines mentioned in the article. For the record, promisquous is pretty good, it's sibling, monogamy is terrible. My husband and I both agree..and ha ha, isn't that funny?

I do think he is missing a subgenre of labels though...the "woman wines." Mommy's Time Out, Middle Sister, Mad Housewife. I try to avoid these at all cost. Such pandering. (although Middle Sister's Pinot Grigio isn't too bad).

microwaved wet panda smell?

Yes, this is a very apt description of some terrible reds I've had recently. Why do they smell like wet dog? It's terrible and I cannot figure out what would cause that.
posted by fyrebelley at 12:24 PM on June 10, 2011


Why do they smell like wet dog? It's terrible and I cannot figure out what would cause that.

MOMMY'S TIME OUT IS WHITE PEOPLE. IT'S MADE OUT OF WHITE PEOPLE.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:25 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


One last thought...someone who knows much more about wine then me once explained wine regions to me this way.

If it comes from fertile land, you are going to have sweet wine because the grapes are easily thriving and produce sugars. Think German or upstate NY Reislings. (or, Missouri wines--ugh!)

If it comes from sandy, rocky soil, you are going to have dryer wines. Think Mediterranean and Chilean reds.

I really liked the idea of thinking about how the soil affects the wine. Kind of neat to think about. That being said...again, I like looking at the labels.
posted by fyrebelley at 12:28 PM on June 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I really liked the idea of thinking about how the soil affects the wine.

if only there was a single french word to express this idea...
posted by GuyZero at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


As long as it comes from Duplin Winery, I'm good.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:36 PM on June 10, 2011


I like my wines red and my labels orange. They tend to be Australian or Spanish, and it usually seems to work out pretty well.
posted by lucidium at 12:38 PM on June 10, 2011


octothorpe: "much more progressive state of Indiana"

You poor, poor bastard.

If I am being snobby I'd say the '07 Cote du Rhones are awesome, and I do like French reds in general. But you can't go wrong with a nice Amarone. If that's too much money per bottle for you, Valpolicella is damn close. And tasty.

If I'm not being snobby, I repeat what my aunt says: "I buy cheap wine. If it's good, I got a great deal. If it's bad, I didn't waste much money. And either way, I got to drink wine."

Most of what I buy is in the $8-$12 / bottle range. Most of the time it's pretty good. That says a lot about how far non-European wine production has come.

On a related note, the movie "Bottle Shock" is pretty damn good. If you haven't seen it, check it out.
posted by caution live frogs at 12:42 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm in the very frustrating position of having had revelatory experiences with wine (like the difference between 5-ingredient homemade ice cream and discount supermarket brand 'non-dairy frozen treat') but not being able to reliably replicate those experiences consistently.

I don't know why this feels so much more daunting than learning anything else. Maybe because it just feels like there are so many more choices available with wine than with other stuff I'm happy to geek out over. I can handle the number of restaurants, or rye whiskeys or computer manufacturers. Manageable. With wine... you don't really go into a library and pick books at random, but despite drinking wine for 10 years and reading guides and always asking the sommelier for help, is still what I feel like I end up doing.
posted by danny the boy at 1:02 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


GuyZero, I assume you are referring to terrior? Which is a term I've not heard, or perhaps by the time I'd heard it, I'd already enjoyed enough wine to not remember.

If you wanted to educate us, why not do that instead of a snarky comment? That's the kind of attitude that makes wine seem inaccessible to people.
posted by fyrebelley at 1:05 PM on June 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


And...it is spelled terroir. Apologies.
posted by fyrebelley at 1:07 PM on June 10, 2011


On a related note, the movie "Bottle Shock" is pretty damn good. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

Judging by the movie poster, this is something I would watch.
posted by Kabanos at 1:09 PM on June 10, 2011


No, I was just being a jerk because I was sort of surprised someone knew of the concept without knowing the word. Believe me that I am the last person to lecture anyone on wine. I'm pretty sure wine is made from grapes and/or sometimes potatoes but after that I'm lost.
posted by GuyZero at 1:10 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Awww, well I'm a forest, not the trees, sort of person, so minor details like "terms" often allude me.

Sorry that went over my head.
posted by fyrebelley at 1:13 PM on June 10, 2011


If I followed this advice, I would have to go home and pour out every bottle in my stash.

(Lies outside tomswift's window, with funnel stuck in mouth.)
posted by IAmBroom at 1:14 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If I'm not being snobby, I repeat what my aunt says: "I buy cheap wine. If it's good, I got a great deal. If it's bad, I didn't waste much money. And either way, I got to drink wine."

*grins broadly* My own aunt tells a story of her aunt, who once said something similar years ago at some family Thanksgiving dinner. It was when my parents and aunts and uncles were all much younger, in their 20's, and when they brought the wine out the "kids" all started talking away about the wine, discussing its merits and talking about other wine, subtly trying to impress each other, while the wine they'd been served was going untouched. Aunt Nell just listened to them all for a while, then tapped my aunt on the shoulder. "Susie, you know what I know about wine?" she said.

Everyone fell silent. "No, Aunt Nell, what do you know about wine?"

"I know enough to shut up and drink it," Aunt Nell said. And she did.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:17 PM on June 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am not a wine person. I know I like the red ones more than the white ones, and that's about it. If sent to get wine, I shop ENTIRELY by label, and usually judge the labels based on how badass the animal on them is (no animal, no purchase). Toasted Head is pretty excellent, because it's a fire-breathing bear. Badass! However, my go-to is Ravenswood, because ravens are also awesome, but more so because their logo strongly reminds me of Neurosis, which is awesome.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:22 PM on June 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


For fear of label roulette being the primary indicator of how I spend $12.99, I stick to the $4.99 or 3/$12 bins at the front of the liquor store... which, now that I think of it are pretty much an even split of animal wines and pseudo-French. The aisles with actual choices scare me.
posted by aimedwander at 1:23 PM on June 10, 2011


Troublewithwolves, there IS a wine with kitties on it! Mrs Wigley! It is a dry rose and it is lovely :)
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 1:26 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Never cook with wine you wouldn't drink.

People always say that, but I think it's silly. Not all wines you'd rather not drink are really bad-tasting, and in any case, eating isn't drinking. I wouldn't drink a glass of duck fat or balsamic vinegar or olive oil, but I'm happy to use them in my food. When you're cooking, you just have to use your judgment about how a particular wine is going to interact with the rest of the dish.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:44 PM on June 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


Anyway, I find a truly horrible wine to be as enjoyable as a truly good wine. You get the same level of complexity to a flavour - is that decay of cabbage I detect, or is it more decay of cucumber? Is the nose a bit mushroomy, or is it more a sort of microwaved wet panda smell?

I've finished several bottles of bad wine just because they were bad in such compelling ways.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:17 PM on June 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't drink a glass of duck fat or balsamic vinegar or olive oil,

Metafilter exposes me to so many different viewpoints.
posted by The Whelk at 2:19 PM on June 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


I wouldn't drink a glass of duck fat or balsamic vinegar or olive oil

Yeah, do you mean like you wouldn't for breakfast...or...like...ever?
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:23 PM on June 10, 2011


If sent to get wine, I shop ENTIRELY by label, and usually judge the labels based on how badass the animal on them is (no animal, no purchase).

I think "no animal, no purchase" is going to be my new criteria. For anything I buy.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:30 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't drink a glass of duck fat or balsamic vinegar or olive oil

I would like you to combine all three and hand me a loaf of fresh sourdough post haste.
posted by clearly at 2:39 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


If it has a chicken on it, I will buy it.
posted by duvatney at 3:35 PM on June 10, 2011


Is this where we post our favorite (for me, low-budget) wine labels?

Let's start with the sexy women:

* Cycles Gladiator (California)
* Oh My Gosh Grenache (California)

So apparently there is a wine named Bitch? Is that for real? For accompanying salads and smiling, I guess?

Have not seen it, but I'm starting to see Bitch Creek ESB everywhere.

I like tetra pak wine? Am I a bad person?

I like the Bandit OK. I think Black Box Cabernet is pretty good if you let it breathe for a while. A 3L Black Box of red was always my go-to carry-along drink for an enjoyable Burning Man night.

$2 Chuck was basically a fluke. The first batch was actually quite good. It was originally made for another buyer, but for some reason that deal fell through and it ended up at Trader Joe's. Every bottle since then has been coasting on the reputation of that first good batch.

I don't think this is quite true. It's just that the quality varies tremendous from bottle to bottle, because, hey, it's not the same stuff in each bottle. It's still generally pretty bad, imo. Whole Foods sells a $2-3 bottle that is better. I forget what it's called.

Is there literally decent wine that costs $3? When I'm buying a "cheap" bottle I'm looking from $8.99-$12.99.

Not easy in the US, but easier in California. In France, it's pretty easy to get a decent 2-euro bottle of wine.

there certainly seems to be little or no correlation between variety and taste

You're doing it wrong if Petite Sirah tastes the same as Barbera.

Even though Appelation American put it behind a pay wall, their illustrated Grape Index is pretty cool.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:47 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am embarrassed to admit I bought a bottle of Kung Fu Girl. But I returned it.
posted by Glinn at 4:21 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pour duvatney. (Not my Flicker.)
posted by Kloryne at 4:34 PM on June 10, 2011


Personally, I'm pretty rubbish with choosing wine (I pick whatever is in a pretty bottle and has been marked down from about £12 to about £7), but I have known people who really knew their stuff. One of my tutors at university, for example, was a member of the college Wine Society, and was always in charge of choosing the wine if we happened to have a college dinner to organise. For one of these dinners, he brought along a bottle from his own collection. I didn't even really drink wine at the time, but I tried some of this anyway.

It was the most incredible wine I have tasted, before or since - beautiful flavour, just the right amount of tannin, drinkable without being simple. I dread to think how much it cost, and seriously regret not writing down what it was. If I had a spare far-too-much money lying around, I can entirely imagine that getting good at appreciating wine would be a hobby well worth cultivating.
posted by ZsigE at 4:54 PM on June 10, 2011


The only thing on any booze label that really matters in the ABV%.
posted by jonmc at 5:03 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like wine. I'd venture to say that I'm at about an intermediate level of knowing stuff and being selective. Can someone explain to me where the fear comes from? It seems to me that folks often buy quite a lot of wine and out of intimidation, head straight for stuff they think is just okay. Then they keep buying it over and over, or continue to randomly buy based on labels. Nothing wrong with that, but why not apply a little methodology to your random choices? If you liked the bargain animal bottle australian Shiraz, why not seek out Shiraz from somewhere else or god forbid ask a knowledgeable shopkeeper for a suggestion! "yes I do need help. I only kind of liked this one but I'm looking for something on the cheap. I promise no one trying to make a sale will be an ass or upsell you. Most wine shops do a great job of stocking lots of cheap wine, and use their more discriminating "palettes" to take note of what's actually tasty to them.
posted by Lisitasan at 5:10 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Garr. Palates, that is! Unless their experimenting in impressionistic wine tasting.
posted by Lisitasan at 5:12 PM on June 10, 2011


I am currently enjoying the Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon. It does break the "No animal, No sale" rule, but adheres nicely to the overriding "Cheap as shit and not half bad" rule. Still, if I were them, I'd put a lemur on it and triple sales.
posted by troublewithwolves at 5:21 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Okay I will never post on my new so called smartphone again. Plz ignore my idiotic grammar until I learn to touch-type.
posted by Lisitasan at 5:22 PM on June 10, 2011


The only thing on any booze label that really matters in the ABV%.

While you are drinking Bacardi 151 straight from the bottle, I'll be over here with a nice Malbec.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:41 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wine labels are fascinating to me, as someone who works in the printing industry. One of my colleagues has been chasing his dream of printing/designing labels for years now, so I've had to hear all about the techniques and processes from him. From a purely technical standpoint, the wine label my be the apex of the printer's craft, as they are very small, and the client is going to be very, very particular about the finished product. Additionally, wine labels very rarely present a simple, CMYK press setup; there's always at least one other process involved, be it spot colors, embossing, foil, thermography, or die-cutting. The more processes involved, the closer the operators have to work together to get everything just so.

Having said that, I will walk right by a wine that has too much production. Seven spot colors, metallic foil, embossing and spot-varnish? Hell no. That level of print production cost a lot of money, and if $2 of a $10 bottle of wine is spent on the label instead of the wine itself, then I'll buy a $10 bottle with an understated label in the hopes that the winemakers were paying attention to their craft instead of the presentation.
posted by lekvar at 5:44 PM on June 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


We always have a box or two of something red in the kitchen. Usually Black Box or BotaBox. Sometimes Boho. After the first 5 or 6 glasses, it really doesn't make much difference.

Occasionally we'll buy a few bottles. I'm in the $8 - $12 range mostly. One guilty pleasure is Bull's Blood. It has to breathe for at least a couple of hours, but I love that shit.

One good friend buys in the $12-$20 range mostly, and I like her tastes. We've gone through up to 6 bottles between the two of us in one night. I've never been disappointed.

I think it takes work to find bad wine. Maybe I just don't know what I'm doing.
posted by yesster at 6:32 PM on June 10, 2011


I know this was meant to be a funny piece, but once he got to the animal leaping hypthosis, all I could think was that Stag's Leap and Rabbit's Leap are so not remotely comparable. Although I guess the price would clue one in on that.

The best way to find wine you like is to drink a lot of wine and try to remember what you thought of it. (Actually, with cell phone cameras, keeping track of things you've enjoyed is easier than ever. ) Excuse me, I have some research to do...
posted by smirkette at 6:58 PM on June 10, 2011


Remembering Sangre de Toro is for me like losing the game.

Thanks yesster. There goes the paycheck.
posted by Dr. Curare at 6:59 PM on June 10, 2011


I've tried very hard to like wine.

Really, I have.

I've gone through a lot of research on how to drink it after my initial shock of the disgusting taste -whether expensive wine or cheap, it was just plain nasty.

I want to like wine, but after several years of trying, I've given up, and am convinced the only reason people drink wine is to be hoity toity and too good for a nice, quality beer.
posted by Malice at 7:24 PM on June 10, 2011


I want to like wine, but after several years of trying, I've given up, and am convinced the only reason people drink wine is to be hoity toity and too good for a nice, quality beer.

I too have learned that people only like things I dislike because they're putting on airs.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:22 PM on June 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't know why this feels so much more daunting than learning anything else.

When I started, I artificially narrowed my selection in order to reduce the wine universe to a manageable size. I decided I would drink only California red zinfandel. After 50 bottles or so, I developed certain preferences. As I expanded my wine universe, I found those preferences translated to other varietals, like cabernet sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. Once I had a group of wines I understood, it was much easier to place new bottles in context.
posted by ryanrs at 9:08 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm also a fan of animals doing things. Typical me at the liquor store: "Oooooh, Let's get the chicken wine!" Here's a tip for wine makers, PUT SOME KITTIES ON THERE AND THEY'LL SELL LIKE HOTCAKES.
posted by troublewithwolves at 11:10 AM on June 10 [3 favorites +] [!]

If it has a chicken on it, I will buy it.
posted by duvatney at 3:35 PM on June 10 [+] [!]


I can never buy wine with a chicken on it, for I have heard first-hand accounts of my brother-in-law's mad science creation of actual chicken wine, and it haunts me to this day.
posted by luftmensch at 9:22 PM on June 10, 2011


Also, $2 Chuck is perfectly fine, but varies season by season.
posted by 2bucksplus


Chateau Eponysterical
posted by ShutterBun at 9:40 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You might want to look into Ice Wines from the finger lakes and Quebec, 2bucks, it's made from grapes that have been allowed to freeze when they're small, so they're super, super, super sweet.
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 AM on June 10


I've never figured out why people (Americans in particular) always tend to talk about Quebec wines. Typically in Canada (or at least in English Canada) Quebec really isn't all that well known for its wines. Ontario and B.C. are usually much more represented. For example, judging by this website, there are as many wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Escarpment/Twenty Valley, which are just two of four (or five) wine regions in the province as there are in all of Quebec.

B.C. also has quite a large number of wineries.

Now I'm much more familiar with Ontario (and California) wines than I am with B.C. vino, so I'll let a left-coast resident chime in with details from that side of the country.

What you'll hear most often in Niagara-area wineries is that the microclimate is ideal for producing wine grapes, partly because of the area’s southern latitudinal reach (the southwestern tip of Ontario extends through the 43rd parallel – the same as Bordeaux). In the Lake Erie North Shore & Pelee Island wine area, you'll hear about its microclimate and including the facts that over half of the 50 states comprising the United States of Americe are north of Pelee Island including Northern California. Pelee Island is on the same latitude as the prestigious wine regions of the world (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany and France).

Okay geography lesson over.

What I really wanted to say was that if you're looking at ice wines, it's worth checking out icewines from Ontario and B.C. A winery in Ontario is credited with making the first, modern, commercially available icewine.

Now in terms of icewine, if you ever get the chance, try a Cabarnet Franc icewine. As good as the typical white icewines (Vidal, Reisling, etc.) are, the red/rose Cab Franc is head and shoulders above. Typically it's not as sweet, but that's definitely a good thing. Peller Estates, for example lists its Cab Franc sugar content at 208 g/l compared with its Reisling with 244 g/l. Trust me it will still be sweet enough without being too sweet that its cloying and overpowering.

Now if you don't want to drink icewine all the time, but you still want a sweeter wine, you can look for a Late Harvest varietal. The grapes are left on the vines longer, but not as long as ice wine grapes. Typically these are also whites, usually Vidals and Reislings (the same grapes used in icewines). Henry of Pelham has some nice ones. In comparison, the Pelham Vidal icewine has as sugar code of 21. The Late Harvest Vidal is 14. (A typical dry Chardonnay is a 0).

For a sweeter table wine try an off-dry Reisling. (Yes I know I keep coming back to Reisling, but it's a German grape, and the Germans tend to produce sweeter wines than the French). You can usually find them with sugar codes of around 3.

While a lot (most) of the Ontario wineries produce an icewine, there is one winery that specializes in nothing but icewines. (Of course its wines come with a pretty massive sticker shock, even worse than typical icewine prices, but there are some real treats in those bottles.)
posted by sardonyx at 9:50 PM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Purposeful Grimace: Clearly this calls for something french and astringent, and preferably tasting gently of horse apples. May I suggest a zygotic shiraz, perhaps from these guys?.
posted by Jilder at 10:09 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jilder, that is some inspired sommelier..erm...ing? $8 a bottle, screw-top bottle, amusing animal on label, laudable mission statement and they apparently sell branded berets. Now the truly hard decision, Tutti Frutti Blanc or Rouge with the poutine? Also, I need to get that surfing Ribet White label, somehow. Ingenious.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:05 PM on June 10, 2011


I want to like wine, but after several years of trying, I've given up, and am convinced the only reason people drink wine is to be hoity toity and too good for a nice, quality beer.

You must be one of those beer snobs who turns a workingman's swill into a gourmet experience. Cuz I feel the same way about beer.

Microbrew my ass. It's still bottled piss.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:11 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


As two victims of cruel and unfair maladies, you both have my sympathy. I hope your suffering does not leave you bitter or astringent, respectively.
posted by ryanrs at 4:03 AM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Currently loving a few ten-dollar reds: Our Daily Red blend (wordplay!) and the Cycle Buff Malbec/Shiraz blend (serious poster imagery). Yay learning to love wine, and thank God for screwcaps.

fyrebelley -- did you listen to the "Three" episode of "You Look Nice Today", proposing the theme bar "Mommy Needs a Minute"? Also, commenter basspocket on the original article proposes: A suggestion for another category of labels would be the "You Go Girl!" wines: the ones with the overly sassy labels, like B*tch and Middle Sister that seem to be marketed towards women who want to get something classier than Franzia for the next girls' night.
posted by brainwane at 6:32 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weirdly enough I have just been commissioned to write an article on this very topic. Client sent me this PDF of latest wine label trends at the London Wine Fair. Some lovely work here.
posted by Summer at 7:05 AM on June 11, 2011


(Holmes & Marchant are not my client)
posted by Summer at 7:06 AM on June 11, 2011


Ah, I was just teasing. I like beer as much as the next guy. Well, maybe not that much. But enough.

However, I am a critic of the oenification of beer, as I call it. The principle factors that make wine expensive are simply not relevant to beer's cost. First among these is age. Very few beers need to spend a year or more in a cellar or a barrel before they are considered even beginning to be drinkable.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:55 AM on June 11, 2011


Also, if you haven't tried a bracing Loire Valley Savignon Blanc (a Pouilly-Fumé or a Sancerre, perhaps) with your Poutine, you don't know the possibilities.

Honestly, however, a legitimate and positive flavor descriptor for those wines (and New Zealand SB's as well) is "ammoniated," and the slightly more inside-wine term is "cat piss." Yes, it's considered desirable up to a point. And nothing improves Poutine like a hint of cat's piss.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:57 AM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah the same thing happened in Chocolate, the language of wine was used to sell high-end chocolate and its just wrong. Single-source for chocolate means nothing, blending is a very skilled art and results in some of the best stuff but since people have been told to avoid blends in wine, they think it goes the same for X-FANCY_PANTS_FOOD_STUFF.
.
posted by The Whelk at 8:58 AM on June 11, 2011


If you're in San Francisco, the Castro Safeway is having a pretty good wine sale right now. Dry Creek Vineyards "Fume Blanc" advertises itself as a Loire-style Sauvignon Blanc. As I recall, it's quite good, and a fantastic deal at $8. (Though I don't remember any feline influences in past bottles.)

I like Dry Creek Vineyards for inexpensive whites. I am not a big fan of their reds, though. I prefer powerful, fruity reds, which is contrary to their house style.
posted by ryanrs at 9:47 AM on June 11, 2011


Two of my favorite wines at the moment:
Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon $15
Ridge "Three Valleys" Zinfandel $19

If you've ever wondered what it means for a Chardonnay to taste "buttery", pick up a bottle of Rombauer "Carneros" Chardonnay, $34. It is an excellent, perhaps extreme, example of this unique California style. Not everybody likes it, and I wouldn't call it a personal favorite, but it has pedagogic value.
posted by ryanrs at 10:07 AM on June 11, 2011


I only eat single-source chocolate delivered by Hummer.
posted by ryanrs at 10:43 AM on June 11, 2011


If it comes from sandy, rocky soil, you are going to have dryer wines.

My brother told me once that the more interesting wine, the more your grapevine has suffered :) Basically, if it's old enough, and not irrigated (much) so that it has to go through 8 layers of dirt,c clay, gravel, and chalk, it'll be a more complex wine. I asked because I couldn't figure out why planting anything on someplace called Chalk Mountain would not only be a good idea, but make things extra marketable.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:20 PM on June 11, 2011


people have been told to avoid blends in wine

Thankfully, this idea is starting to go away. You know who like to blend different kind of grapes in their wine? The French. Yeah, you know, the folks who actually have a futures market on their wine.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:49 AM on June 12, 2011


Can someone explain to me where the fear comes from?

Pick up the (modern) authority book on the subject. It is large. And daunting. Throw in the fact that a lot of the terms are in foreign languages, and that it's a rich man's game (i.e. you can't really afford the good stuff) and yeah, it's not surprising. Complicated subjects are intimidating, regardless of the class factor (i.e. does your neighborhood have a wine bar? Most of ours don't.)

It's kinda like a D&D newbie trying to join a party that's been playing together ... for 6,000 years.

I want to like wine, but after several years of trying, I've given up, and am convinced the only reason people drink wine is to be hoity toity and too good for a nice, quality beer.

..

Microbrew my ass. It's still bottled piss.

I enjoy both beer and wine myself, but I was going to say that I've learned from wine drinkers who don't drink beer that the quality they least like about beer are the distinct notes of "horsepiss" and "dogpiss."

(Why "barnyard" and "vegetal" are any more appealing than piss to them is another question.)

I like Dry Creek Vineyards for inexpensive whites. I am not a big fan of their reds, though. I prefer powerful, fruity reds, which is contrary to their house style.

I'm down with Dry Creek red in a big way, but I'm not a fruit bomb guy. I like my Rhones dirty. The Dry Creek Zinfandel and the Bordeaux are both fantastic. They are not cheap though $20-40+ for the bordeaux probably.

Occasionally we'll buy a few bottles. I'm in the $8 - $12 range mostly. One guilty pleasure is Bull's Blood. It has to breathe for at least a couple of hours, but I love that shit.

One good friend buys in the $12-$20 range mostly, and I like her tastes. We've gone through up to 6 bottles between the two of us in one night. I've never been disappointed.


This is no coincidence. I wish it weren't so, and it certainly isn't in some cases (esp. depending on your personal tastes), but wine-sellers aren't stupid. They know when a wine tastes good and when it will taste good in the future, and they price accordingly, i.e. if you know the varieties/regions a little and know what you like, a $40 bottle of wine will probably be better than a $20 bottle, which in turn is likely better than a $10 bottle.

My wife is pregnant and we have a toddler so I have unfortunately been wine-free for a while, but I was lucky enough to honeymoon in 2007 in southern France and the Cote du Rhone/Vauclause/Chateauneuf du Pape regions. I wish we could have been a year later to get the 2007s, but I've got some 2005s that I am pretty excited about.

Tasting there is very different--usually more like just going up and asking someone to try a specific wine, which they open for you--but I remember one place in Gigondas that was pretty incredible with like hundreds of little apothecary bottles full of wines and a big book for selecting wines to taste. There were literally hundreds of wines of all varieties, grouped in various fashions (winery and terroir).

So yeah, I can see how it might be daunting. I'm not a big fan of his persona, but I do subscribe to the Gary Vaynerchuk philosophy of wine drinking (here's his 2-buck (or 3-buck, or 4-buck) Chuck episode): drink of a lot of wine; expand your palate; find out what you like; drink that. It *is* rocket science, but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to like it.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:27 AM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Two of my favorite wines at the moment:
Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon $15
Ridge "Three Valleys" Zinfandel $19


I'm a big fan of Ridge, but don't get to drink it much b/c it's generally above my price range. Thanks for the tip! They sell it for $24 a pop on their own Web site, but it's $19 at K&L. Looks like a keeper...
posted by mrgrimm at 8:31 AM on June 13, 2011


Wine with a kittie on the label. Sadly, I can no longer find it in the Boston area. and it is yummy.
posted by darsh at 10:41 AM on June 15, 2011


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