Ask the WC 3: Availability, prices, headaches
Because the customers always write, and the Wine Curmudgeon has answers every month or so. Ask a wine-related question by clicking here.
I just returned to the U.S. from a three-year stint in the UK where cheap Bordeaux is a plenty at Sainsbury or Tesco. Before we left, we spent a week in Sicily and I stumbled into the Cusumano wines. Amazing stuff. What is the best way to purchase in the U.S.? We now live in Tennessee where you have to go to a package store to buy wine! Insane. Please advise.
Baffled by the three-tier system
You aren’t the only one. I get more availability questions than anything else; hence this post and this one, which should answer all your questions. Basically, first ask your retailer, and if that doesn’t work, start Googling. You’re spot on with the Cusumano, by the way. Love those wines. And I’m jealous about the Bordeaux.
Dear Wine Guy:
You write a lot about how Americans buy cheap wine, but that no one pays enough attention. But maybe there’s something you’re missing. Do we buy cheap wine everywhere that sells wine, or only at certain places? Like do fine wine shops sell more expensive wine?
Wondering about prices
That’s one of the best questions I’ve ever received, and I don’t know there’s an exact answer. I consulted a bunch of really smart wine people, and we came up with these proportions, but there’s no guarantee to their accuracy: About two-thirds of the wine sold at a mass market retailer like Walmart costs $12 or less and 80 to 90 percent of the wine sold at a grocery store costs $12 or less. At a fine wine shop, the numbers for a mass market retailer are likely reversed, so two-thirds of the wine sold there costs $12 or more.
Hey Wine Curmudgeon:
I have a friend who says she can drink beer OK, but wine, white or red, gives her migraine headaches – and fast. Any clue as to what is the culprit?
My head hurts
I have written about headaches, perhaps the great urban myth of wine. About one percent of the U.S. population is allergic to sulfites, which can cause the headaches. The rest of it, says one of the leading researchers in the field, is auto-suggestion. So there is a chance it is sulfites, though a small one – and one she can test with dried apricots, which have 10 times the sulfites of wine. The other culprit might be histamines, common in wine and which can cause allergic reactions. But beer has histamines, too. So this is where I say I’m not a doctor, and suggest asking one.