Cheap wine for dinner
Toward the end of last month’s $3 wine epic, I got very tired of cheap wine. Or at least it seemed that way. And the Wine Curmudgeon was embarrassed. How could one of the world’s foremost advocates of cheap wine be tired of it?
Which led to some serious reflection. Had I finally reached the cheap wine equivalent of the marathon runner’s wall, when he or she has gone as far as they can and can run no more? And, if true, what did that mean for the future — especially with the Cheap Wine Book on the way? Or was something else going on, something that I didn’t understand, caught up as I was in trying to evaluate wine most of my colleagues don’t think needs evaluating?
Fortunately, the latter turned out to be the case. The problem wasn’t that the wine was cheap; rather, it’s that it wasn’t very interesting — especially after five consecutive nights of the same thing. It might have taken longer to get bored if the wines had been $100 white Burgundy, but boredom would have come eventually.
Which made me wonder: Is that yet another reason why Americans drink so little wine (per capta consumpton has remained more or less the same for 30 years)? Do we stick to the same wine, even when we’re bored with it, because it’s too difficult to find something else?
Do those millions of women of a certain age buy the same undistinguished pinot grigio year after year because it’s easier than buying something else, even if they want something else? Do those millions of Millennials buy syruped-up malbec because the alternative is spending money on wine they don’t understand, even if they’re tired of malbec? Can it be that the devil that we know is easier than negotiating the wine purchasing process and its indecipherable labels, intimidating retailers, and unintelligible winespeak?
Which led me back to the only wine rule I have left after 20-some years of doing this: Drink what you want, but be willing to try something else. Yes, that can be terrifying — who wants to spend good money on something you may not like, even if it’s only $10? But the alternative is getting bored, and there is too much wonderful wine in the world to let that happen. So take a chance. Don’t let the wine business do to you what it has done to everyone else. You have nothing to lose but boring wine.