It’s that time of the month again: The Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. This month’s theme–as chosen by as month’s winner, Chad of (Un)Common Grape–is NEW. Of course, I’m getting this in just under the deadline–there’s certainly nothing new about that!
In light of that new theme, I thought I would write about the one of the scariest things in the world of wine: buying a new* bottle of wine.
*by new, I don’t mean replacing your favorite bottles of wine that you repeatedly drink with the same stuff, I mean a new-never-been-tasted-but-you’re-hoping-and -praying-all-the-way-from-the-store-to-the-glass-that-this-is-going-to-be-worth-it new.
While working at a wine bar/tasting room, I was quite adventurous with wine. With reckless abandon I would try new wines and would be open to randomly picking out something I’d never tasted before and running with it. Of course, it helped that I got a discount and had some amazing wine reps that would bring samples of things they knew that I would adore.
Fast forward to leaving my cushy wine job and moving to New York City, where I was/am on a very tight wine budget. Suddenly trying something new seemed too great a risk to take. Better to stick with what I knew would be tasty and worth not only full retail price, but the added expense of buying it in New York City.
Every time I would go to the wine store, I would go in with weak promises to myself that I would try something new. But every time push came to shove and the wallet was opened I found myself sticking to my old favorites.
Oh sure, I’d politely listen to the wine shop workers’ suggestions and reasons, but I often wondered if they truly enjoyed whichever wine they were trying to foist upon me or was it just a spiel? In typical me-fashion, I would start talking to them, asking both specific and general questions and working their full knowledge of wine because, well, having switched professions, I missed talking about wine. We’d compare tasting notes, likes and dislikes of wine regions, I’d take up way to much of their time, but in the end it was a very rare event that I would leave with something new.
I just wasn’t willing to take the risk. I know, I know…I was being crazy. After all, it’s wine–the likelihood of it not being drinkable was exceptionally low. But it’s not about drinking wine–it’s about enjoying wine.
Over time two things changed this:
The first was wandering into the Trader Joe’s wine shop. It is a bit of a trek from work or home, so it took some time to actually motivate myself to get there. Additionally, the only thing I had heard about Trader Joe’s wine was Two-Buck Chuck–so I must confess to being a bit skeptical as to what I might find. Once I did, though, it was like Christmas had come early! I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting (perhaps all Two-Buck Chuck?) but what I saw when I went in was a delightful surprise–a wide variety of wine at very un-New York City prices. Although, if you’re looking for Two-Buck Chuck in NYC, I must warn you it’s $3! With much lower prices than anywhere in the city and a staff that seems knowledgeable, it makes it a lot more justifiable to my brain–and wallet!–to venture outside of my wine safe box and try new things. I’ve even found a couple of varietals of Charles Shaw (aka
Two Three-Buck Chuck) that I rather enjoy!
The second thing was finding the fabulous website Cheap Wine Curious. If you are unfamiliar, CWC is authored by the lovely Loie, who uses her sharp wit and extensive palate to help you navigate your way through less expensive (aka cheap–her word, not mine) wines. Whether you prefer reds, whites, rosés, or sparkling, Loie has diligently tasted and dutifully reported a wide variety of inexpensive wines to add to your wine cellar without sacrificing taste or budget.
I’m not going to pretend that current trips to the wine shop are only for new bottles of wine, but at least now I can say that it is a generous mix of both old favorites and new wines that have the potential to achieve old favorite status.