I do not claim to be a wine connoissoir nor do I have any plans to become one. In fact, “wine tasting” is the category of educational event I am most likely to avoid. There is no worse way to spend an evening than shifting from table to table in a balloon-decorated gymnasium, pretending you can tell the difference between various thimble-sized offerings while having pretentious, nonsensical conversations about tannins and acidity and fruity undertones. If you really want me to toss some coin at your school/sports team/charity, open the bar and let me buy a “big girl” glass of something red or white. And after a few glasses you can pull another easy $20 out of me by selling pizza by the slice!
When it comes to choosing a wine, my process is relatively simple. I begin by selecting a geographical location (Canadian liquor stores divvy everything up by country). Italy rocks, Argentina seems like a great place to visit, and New Zealanders have awesome accents, so those are on my preferred list. I almost never go to the United States section because I don’t want to end up with a Republican wine and Canada bores me (I also have flashbacks to teenage over-indulgence in a locally-made concoction called “Andre’s Baby Duck”). Once I have chosen a destination, I scan the prices and mentally erase everything that’s over $20 a bottle. Then I start looking at the labels because, as everybody knows, wines with catchy names or pictures of cute animals on them taste better.
Clearly, there are many things I do not know about wine. However, there are also a few things I do know:
1. Wine should come in red or white. Period. The world does not need pink wine; Ice Wine is a dessert, not a drink choice; and if you want to make something out of blueberries or strawberries, please stick to jam. Wine is made from grapes and it comes in only two colours. Everything else is an abomination.
2. Wine should be drank from a wine glass. I actually went to a relatively high-end restaurant where they tried to serve my wine in a mason jar. Are you &#%$# kidding me!?! I get it… stemware is a little tippy… but part of the joy of the drink is the glass; all round and fat against the palm of your hand (makes me better understand that male obsession with breasts). So let’s put away those “stemless” wine glasses and live on the edge.
3. No one should serve a 5 oz glass of wine. I see it on restaurant menus all the time, usually accompanied by the option to “up-size” to a 9 oz glass. This is ridiculous. Why not offer half a cup of coffee with the option to “up-size” to a full mug? In the real world, no one pours themselves (or anyone they like) a 5 oz glass of wine, so let’s stop pretending that this is any-sort-of-normal serving size.
4. Homemade wine is not “just as good”. I have nothing against homemade wines and I have quite a few friends that make pretty decent ones, but let’s be honest about this. The appeal is that you can make a ton of it for the same cost as buying a few bottles. When it comes to quality, the range of homemade wines stretches from “this is making me gag” to “I can drink this”, with most falling closer to “gag”. No one is drinking homemade wine for the taste.
5. People who say they are drinking wine “for their health” are liars. It seems that a glass of wine is the new apple – one a day will keep the doctor away. Gather a bunch of folks from my neighbourhood in a room, give them all a glass of wine, and I guarantee that before the first refills roll around, somebody will have started a conversation about the amazing health benefits. I hear that there are plans to create a new “wine” category in the Canada Food Guide! I am calling bullshit on this… none of us are drinking wine because we have trouble choking down a multivitamin tablet.
Here is the biggest thing I know about wine… It is a simple pleasure in a busy, complicated world. Sipping a glass (or two) of wine while I am making dinner makes me feel like a gourmet instead of an over-worked woman pushing herself through one more daily chore. And half an hour in the tub with a glass (or two) of wine and a trashy magazine is like a trip to the spa, minus the pedicure and the $100+ VISA bill. Should there come a time when I feel a need for that glass of wine rather than a want, I will transition to loose tea, but in the meantime, I will enjoy every single glass (or two!).