Rob Moshein - Austin Wine Guy
Drink Outside the Box...
April 29, 2009So, it all began some months ago when I saw a piece in the local paper by my blogger/foodie/food writer buddy Addie Broyles in the Austin American Statesman Food Section about cooking with chicken. What got my dander was the prominent huge Box o'wine on the counter next to her in the photo in the paper. I wrote her a note saying it was time to "step away from the Box" wine wise, and our subsequent dialogue turned into the joint venture she just published Front Page of the Food Section this morning! and the video she put on the American Statesman's Austin360.com website
Way cool, huh Kids??
But, the upshot is that this really IS a subject close to my heart. Life is too short to drink cheap crap wine, it's like eating meals at the Wendy McDonald's King All You Ean Eat Burger Barn. Take the same bucks and buy for VALUE not quantity. Yeah, its "easy" to grab a big ole box that sits on the counter or lurks in the fridge like a beached whale that lasts forever...yet that box's contents were factory produced in mammoth quantities by factory workers who don't care what it tastes like as long as the taste is consistent. I met a winemaker who's first job was making the base for that stuff, 25,000 GALLONS at at time and he was quite clear that the bosses told him it shouldn't TASTE like anything! But thank the good Lord there is a whole world out there of real wine made in smaller quantities by real people who actually give a crap what it tastes like, that you can buy for $10 a bottle or less.
Now, most of you probably already know this. Heck, if you are regular readers of a wine blog, I seriously doubt there are many of you who have those big ole boxes around the house. Yet, I know every single pair of eyeballs reading this knows someone who DOES. Preach, convert, cajole, suggest, guide, teach and enlighten these souls, I pray you.
Especially today, with the Euro having fallen some 40%, gas back down by half, and a literal glut of wine in Europe, there is a lot of pretty decent stuff on the market already around $10.
I can also tell you that every single retail customer, on premise and off (thats restaurants and wine shops in winespeak) are all clamoring for VALUE. Distributors are madly searching to fill that clamours demand. I can promise you that, barring something unforseen, you will see even MORE value wines appearing on the shelves and lists of your favorite vinous beverage purveyors in the coming months.
Strike up that conversation with your local wine guy, it will be worth your three minutes I guarantee. Don't have a wine guy? Ask around, find one. If you're in Austin, drop me a line. Wine scares you, I know. All those bottles, labels, weird names, funny words, and "OMG, what "if" I buy a bad bottle?" Relax, every wine guy in the world just loves to help you out. Take a deep breath, relax, and just say, "excuse me, I need a bottle of wine, can you help?"
Here is a quick repeat of some advice on this subject from a previous blog of mine: First, before you leave the house, stop for two seconds, come on, you know you have a few seconds somewhere, and just think about what wine you NEED, or at least WHY you need some wine. Who is going to be drinking it? What are you serving with it? Just how many of them are there? What "sort" of people are they? This last one, well, it "is" a bit judgmental, I admit, but it is necessary. viz: Aunt Martha and Cousin Jethro from Pigs Knuckle, Oklahoma probably have little experience with wine, and that snotty brother in law from San Francisco with the expense account never lets you forget that he" knows " more about wine than you do. I call this bit of intel "The not casting pearls before swine" effect in choosing a bottle. White Zin for Martha and Jethro, Napa Cab for Mr. Expense Account.
This is the kind of information that I need. With these answers, and your ballpark budget (and for Pete's sake PLEASE do not just say "it doesn't matter" unless it "really" doesn't matter (and those to whom it "doesn't REALLY matter" probably sent their STAFF to fetch wine). You will know it does matter when I head to that locked case where the price to even open the damn thing starts northwards of $125 per bottle. So, please, do you want $10-15, $25ish, "no more than $50"? I need this intel, really. Don't be afraid to have a budget and STICK TO IT.
Home stretch here. you're almost ready to head to the register with your wine already, wasn't that EASY? Do me one final favor, trust me. Honest. Be willing to drink a little outside the comfort zone. Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay are all really BAD value varietals these days. California wines are not so great value wise compared to other regions. Now, there are exceptions here, but generally speaking bang for your buck will not be found here. I know those gems out there, that will drink like twice the price, at ANY price range you want. Put your faith in me, gentle wine drinker, I only want you to go home happy, Why? because you will COME BACK. Professional wine lingo calls this "the repeat customer". We ADORE repeat customers. We wine guys can help, honest.
See, wasn't that easy??
Choose quality over quantity. Drink outside that Box. After all, aren't you worth it? I think you are.