Drink what you like.
I’ve said it so many times in my wine career, I’ve lost count. Well into the millions, if not billions. I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t inwardly cringe a bit whenever a customer just loooooooved their $5 bottle of cloyingly sweet because 500lbs of sugar were dumped into the barrel red wine. Do you have something else? Just like it, but in white or blush? A nice crisp sparkling muscato hinting of peaches and apples? A beautiful rosato bursting with so much fruitiness that you don’t realize no sugar has been added? Nope. They were all about the $5 bottle of sweet red. They liked the taste and they loved the price point.
And red wine is good for my heart, right? Well, maybe not that red. It has too much added sugar. Let me introduce you to something my cousin likes to call jacuzzi wine.
Jacuzzi wine? They were hooked simply on the moniker. Something fun. Absolutely no trace of snobbery that the wine world has projected as it’s façade for decades. Plus it wasn’t White Zin. They didn’t know a lot, but they knew to stay away from white zinfandel–at least in a fancy wine shop. White zinfandel was for purchasing at the grocery store where you could hide it in the bottom of your cart and drink it at home without judgmental eyes watching. No this was a much more sophisticated choice in wine: it was a Cabernet Blanc. Granted, it too was sweet, but not quite so cloying. However, it had something that the sweet red didn’t: it was light and delicate and offered flavors other than “sweet”–like peaches. It was light and fun and peachy and wha–$16 a bottle?
Silence. Of course, you can always buy a glass of it for $5–walk down the street, do some shopping. Think about it for awhile. Buy a glass and then buy a bottle of sweet red to take back to your hotel.
You see, what I learned very early in my wine career is that wine can be scary and it can quickly get expensive–and thus those in the wine world quickly learn what their wine values are. Are they a $300 bottle of Dom? Or a bottle of 2 Buck Chuck? The truth is, they’re both. To my palette, it’s definitely a bottle of good quality French champagne, but I don’t need Dom Perignon–Bollinger or Krug will do nicely thankyouverymuch! Or a bottle of Artemis. Or an elusive cabernet franc or petite verdot. But to those just starting out, $5 bottle of sweet red is everything to them. I know. I’ve seen their faces alight with glee as they walked out of the wine shop. They want so badly to like wine but big-buttery California chardonnays and spicy-in-your-face Australian shirazes and dry-despite-saying-semi-dry French champagnes don’t taste good. And they’re expensive and why throw $20, $50, $100+ down the drain when it tastes disgusting?
They want to like wine…and they don’t want to spend $100 a bottle.
A fair assessment. I love wine and I don’t want to spend $100 on a bottle. I mean, I will splurge from time to time, but not often–not when you can spend much less and still get a great bottle. So to me, values in the great big world of wine come down to two things: do you like it and can you afford to drink it whenever you like?
Everyone is entitled to their own wrong opinion and that is blatantly obvious when dealing with wine. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many varietals or styles of wine available. But the one consistent is that we are all seeking that holy grail of wine that is the perfect combination of delicious and affordable. So you when you find yourself introducing people to wine, you suggest Muscato and Riesling and Gewürztraminer and then fall back to Jacuzzi wine and sweet red. And when you set aside your values and focus on their values, they leave happy. Sometimes it was with a case of Jacuzzi wine; other times with a glass of reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. But they were happy. They fell in love. They found their wine values and victory was oh-so-sweet…or spicy…or buttery…but always delicious.