If you’re anything like me (poor, young, and slightly intimidated by anything with a culture of exclusivity), the grocery store is where you will usually buy your wine. Hey, I agree that it is a nice and safe place to go. Unless it is the Killer Kroger on Ponce De Leon…but, I digress.
At the very least, there is no chance in hell or even purgatory that a zealous wine extremist with over-weaning (and bearing) hubris will lurk in the shadows of aisle six. Trust me, he’s way over on the other side of town in that “just splendid” little wine shop with vintages from the upward $30s. Probably with Robert Parker.
But you, little darling, can hide amongst the aisles of California grapes in peace, perhaps even grab that third bottle of Yellow Tail with no shame. I like going to the grocery store, too. I hear you! However, as I mentioned earlier, it is pretty hard to spread your wings to wine god status with that level (or lack) of guide-less-ness. Yes, I made up that word. Deal with it.
Anyway, in theme with post No. 3, I dove into some high-profile research on wine-scavenging so that we could decode this beast like independent grown ass adults who know what they are doing! Maybe you’ll even start wearing a tie to work after this. Maybe. And we don’t even have to hail from Bletchley Park . Below is a compilation of all the best advice I have gathered:
1. Get your bearings. This is war, people. Take a walk-a-bout of sorts. Figure out where the Chardonnay is and hack that mess out of the way. Wait, hold the phone Winebbler. But, everybody loves Chardonnay! Kids, there is just waaaay too much of that crap on the shelves. If you must, do your research first. In a bind, google it on your phone. In a real bind? Ask someone who may possibly look like they remotely know what they are doing. But, don’t, I repeat do not just pick up any random bottle of Chardonnay by your lone-lonesome. You will pay too much for it. Hello! You are poor, remember??
2. Don’t be a baby bitch, either. Leave your comfort zone. I’m talking to you with that California Merlot in your hand. In case you are blind, this place is infested with California wines. Yeah, sure they rock, but if you want to go with cheap and quality try something a bit crazier. Ahem, Wash State. What. Up.
3. Look at the year. Most grocery stores aren’t going to house a vintage that needs to be kept away. (We’ll talk about this, calm down!) The newer the wine at the grocery store, the better it is going to be. Obviously this isn’t always the case, but in the name of clarity–we’ll keep it black and white for now.
4. Release all college nostalgia. Back then, bigger bottle equaled more drunk. I loved Franzia just as much as the next monogrammed broad. But just put it down, guys. You are not going back there because (sorry to be the bearer of bad news) your ass graduated. Let that piss poor excuse of a beverage stay in your hidden Facebook photo albums only.
5. Finally, if all else fails, some grocery stores have these (cringe) point systems. Maybe they are actually right in some instances. Higher number = Higher rating = Higher likelihood of good wine. I’m dying as I write this (obviously), but hey, even the man gets it sometimes.
Hope this helps! Happy winebbling!
Occasionally–I discovered in the midst of my second week of winebbling–walking into wine shops as a twenty-something snoobie can be something like this (please click hyperlink and listen to receive the full effect of this post).
At first, you stand at the doorway of a brand new wineventure. Young. Fresh. Broke. With not a care in the world and not a penny to your name. You’ve got style though–in that I don’t care how uncool I am to the point of actually becoming too cool sort of way.
And then, the perfect moment greets you at the threshold of purchase and peruse. You, winebbler, are certain–beyond any measure of a doubt–that you will leave this place happy as a clam. Directly resulting from an encounter with the gaping and mysterious vats of knowledge made available to you by the woman behind the counter. But, this moment is fleeting my friends. (Stop music here).
And, reality sinks in. Hence, the second realization intrudes upon a brief detour past Rosé and the safety nets of Argentinian Malbec. All the things that could have happened in there aren’t happening, and you really are just some poor kid trying to move up in a world that has no more room at the inn. Just ask China.
That jazzy theme music playing in your head is now abruptly revealed as the show-boat it truly was. And any ideation of impending glory is crashing down like an old familiar Thursday afternoon where you left that (would be) enchanting person who works on floor six in an elevator as the music traveled down and down with the closing cold metal doors. In such a space–there is no hope. Only the bitter truth that being in a wine shop can be really damn boring.
Sans the knowledge I sought and sans $16.20, I left H&F bottle shop in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta with a metaphorical empty-handed purchase–to no fault of the wine selling lady. Only my own pitiful attempt to appear to understand her jargon is to blame. For speaking wine speak is a tough game to play–and can oft times turn the biggest of fish into the tiniest of guppies and make the nosiest of bloggers forget all of the right questions.
Alas, home I went with the first bottle recommended to me: a 2011 Château l’Oiselinière de la Ramèe in a little red bag twisted at the top. Worried of what I was getting into at two in the afternoon, I uncorked (and nearly broke) the Muscadet wine which hails from the confluence of the rivers Sévre and Maine in the northwest of France. This wine is crafted by the Chéreau family–who apparently has privy to a house amazing enough to receive the nomenclature of Château and the ability to consume their wine on a hilltop overlooking the banks of a rather (I can only imagine) picturesque riverside. Lucky bastards.
The head guy in charge of the whole Château enterprise is named Bernard Chéreau. This seemingly benign French gentleman possess a tinge of badass as he spearheaded the creation of an export market. Merci beaucoup monsieur from all of us wanna-be winos over here in ‘Merica.
The wine hails from Appellation Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Contrôlèe and boasts the seal of French legitimacy (and stuck-up-edtry (kidding!)) that we learned of last week. Evidently, the family is highly loyal to the Melon de Bourgogne varietal from the Loire Valley region and is also highly partial to Muscadet grapes. Basically, this just means that they stick with what they love and keep it simple. Makes sense.
The cool (and kind of gross) thing about this wine is that it goes through a special process known as Sur Lie. Basically, this just means that the newly created wine ferments ( the process of turning sugar into ethanol) on top of dead yeast for an entire miserable winter. Apparently, this makes it “enriched and full-bodied” (whatever the hell that means). To me, the idea of drinking something that has laid soaking in dead anything is mildly repulsive. I try not to think about it too much as the sparkly taste is still quite dazzling.
Well, gang, let’s get down to business.
Pale straw-yellow–a bit like the sunshine I am currently missing.
Floral, fruity, and fresh. Did I mention longings for summer? While refreshing, it did accidentally invoke the overhanging fear of being a sweet wine–a thing I loathe more than Lindsay Lohan on a Friday night. Die, Arbor Mist.
The beginning: Smooth and foreshadowing of surprises to come. (So Robert Parker right now.)
The middle: Apple and citrus. Oh! It bursts like spring and has just the slightest bit of…salt? Perhaps?
The end: Made me want another sip–and I am usually not a white wine drinker. But this tingles and sparks like pop rocks.
The verdict: For all those Februaries that made me want June back, I’ll take it as a worthy fill-in. This wine is well worth the freshness it brought to rainy gray winter days this past week. Thanks H&F for recommending a bit of fun, after all.
Vernacular: adj.: using a language or native language rather than a literary, cultured, or foreign language.
1. 2 Litre De Bortoli casks (not sure what that is–but the recommendation is to “decant it first”) That just means air it out a bit, people. (Listerlegs)
2. Domain Boudau, Le Clos 2009 (Cotes du Roussillon, France)
3. Damalisco Crianza 2008 (Toro, Spain)
4. The Culprit, 2010 (Sonoma)
5. Washington State Cabs. Any of them. (the wine serf)
6. Cono Sur wine from Chile
7. Yalumba whites from Australia (kdrizzleuk)
8. Wines of the San Jaun (New Mexico) (phil795)
9. Moscato (Daniel Bryant)
10. Argiolas, Vermentino di Sardegna Costamolino ($13)
11. Feudi di San Gregorio, Falanghina Sannio ($16)
12. Ocone, Falanghina del Taburno “Flora” ($14)
13. Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto ($14)
14. Allegrini, Palazzo della Torre ($17)
15. Castello di Volpaia, Chianti Classico ($20)
16. Valle Reale, Vigne Nuove Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($12)
17. Hauner, Salina Rosso ($13)
18. Di Majo Norante, Ramitello Rosso IGT ($16) (Stefano–an amazing and magical contribution of bottles 10-19)
20. Boomtown, Dusted Valley (Montainstroh)
22. French Cinsault (K.M Kowalski–says it is perfect with burgers!)
Thank you to all who contributed suggestions.