Drink better wine

there are so many great stock photos about bad wine but, ugh, this photo is just amazing. Courtesy gizmodo.com/au

Last week I attended my very first meeting of a book club set up by a friend. We’re all in our 20s and pretty universally broke, so when my friend suggested everyone bring $5 to cover the cost of wine and cheese, I jumped at the opportunity to get the wines. There’s nothing worse than facing a table of bad cheap wine after a long day at work (except maybe the hangover the next day).

When it comes to cheap wine (here defined as under $10), my general rule is to always avoid the familiar grapes. There is NOTHING worse than cheap Pinot Noir. I, for example, spent $55 (including tax!) on a Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Barbera, Zweigelt and Minervois. Sometimes knowing about wine is associated with snobbishness – the more you know the better you are at spotting the gems among the cheap stuff. Knowing what wines can be both affordable and drinkable takes some serious wine skillz.

courtesy winenoob.com

Inevitably, a couple of girls decided to bring wine with them. There were a few cheap bottles of Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon (let’s keep them anonymous for now). The ladies went for these name-brand-recognition wines first and left my sad, better bottles behind. Why would they take a chance on something they couldn’t pronounce when there was Pinot Grigio on the table?! Because it’s what they know – it was familiar, if not better.

Later, I introduced myself and offered up my wine-sourcing talents for future gatherings. I revealed that I was a total wine nerd (not snob!) and that I’d paid only $55 for all the wine I brought (!). I was vindicated when the collective eyes of the group lit up and a couple of tipsy book clubbers even exclaimed that, “Oh! That’s why the wine was actually good!” It’s been settled, then, that I’ll be bringing the wine from here on out.

This little anecdote has a few takeaways:

If you’ve never heard of the wines listed above, go out and grab a bottle and see what you think. Wine education is everywhere these days – even Eric Asimov at The New York Times has started a virtual wine school to help readers learn the basics. These days, there’s no excuse for bringing the cheap stuff that tastes cheap. Consumers have too many options and too much access to good information to be drinking the bad stuff.



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