When I quit drinking over 10 years ago it was with the stated goal of “making new mistakes” instead of “making the same mistake over and over.” The same mistake over and over was mostly Pabst Blue Ribbon and Bushmill’s, and now that I am over six months into my relapse I can state definitively that I have not made that mistake again. Most beers just taste gross to me. I’d like to think that my tastes have matured, but really no part of me has ever really gotten better at anything. My friend Will considers most of the current beers to be based on some kind of notion that it ought to punch you in the neck with an overwhelming taste of hops. Why are most highly-touted beers hostile to taste? I have no idea. I drink to forget. I drink to wind down. I drink so that you will also drink. I don’t drink to unlock the complicated tastes of some kind of liquid Proust.
So I’ve been trying wines, too. Wines, I feel, put me in a jollier mood. And when you’re 5’ 6” and 200 pounds, you can rock the jolly. I used to buy any cheap $10 wine with a 5-star rating and wait for the delightful delivery people to show up with my booze. Now that I’ve moved to Jersey City, Fresh Direct can no longer deliver me booze because it's against Federal Law to transport it from Union Square Wines to Journal Square. Where is Nucky Thompson when you need him? Free Mumia, close Gitmo and change this law.
I’ve been stopping at cute little wine shops like Frankly Wines on West Broadway and Sea Grapes on Hudson near the Path trains to sample the cheaper fare. I am interested in a few criteria: is it cheap enough that I won’t have to eat ramen for the rest of the week at the bookstore? Will it not taste too horrible? And will I feel like a better person for drinking it than, say, a Bud Light, which is the winner of my own personal beer wars at the moment. Yuengling Bock is a close second. Who can resist a beer with a goat licking it up on the label? A better person than me, that’s who.
Petite Cochon Bronze Rose: Jim wins with this Vin! This is my favorite discovery of the summer so far. I like pink things. I wear pink converse All-Stars most of the time. And pink wine makes me feel wistful and winsome, somehow both at the same time. Plus it has an awesome pig on the label. I cannot resist you, delicious winking French pig. You carry all the wisdom of the ages in your sideways winking glance. All wines should have pigs as their spirit creature. It tastes pretty good. Wine people throw around words like “oaky” but I hated the movie Sideways passionately, even though I love Paul Giamatti unconditionally. I don’t know how wines taste. I can only tell you how they made me feel. And this one immersed me in a pink bubble of floatiness that I never wanted to end. Then I sexted someone from OK Cupid for a while and woke up next to a half-eaten Pop Tart.
Yard Dog Cabernet Sauvignon: I thought this was a white wine when I bought it because the bottle was so smoky and because I am an uncultured and unsophisticated savage. White wines makes me feel jollier than red wines. Red wine was nice during the winter, but I sweat balls when it’s hotter than 50 degrees out. And white wines put me in a terrific mood as I hurtle endlessly toward the inevitable hangover. And red wine make me feel self-conscious that I look like some kind of red-toothed freak or something. Can they make a red wine that doesn’t stick to your goddamned teeth, making you look like some kind of hideous vampire? There is a scary dog on the label. So scary I had to buy this or else fear its wrath in dreams. My roommate Ben liked this wine, but I was disappointed that it wasn’t a white wine.
Dos Minas Torrontes: There are two cool looking ladies with cool haircuts on the label. And they’re Argentinian, so they are probably a lot of fun. This was the white wine I got the next day after the red wine I just wrote about ended up being red. It was pretty OK, but if I still have a half a bottle of it and yet I’ve somehow drank all the goddamned Rolling Rock beer in the house, how good could it really be? Was I saving this wine for some higher purpose? No, I just think I forgot about it. It was stuck somewhere behind the cheese and sopresatta that I love to snack on right before bed. Oh minas, you got lost in the crowd.
The Chardonnay Conspiracy: I like all these weirdly named wines. The Pinot Project. The Merlot Massacre. Whatever. They are all perfectly fine. I don’t have to think about them. They are cheap and decent and all I really want is for someone to say “Drink this” and I drink it and then after a while I stay up watching Orgazmo half the night making slightly stupid comments the whole way through. Screwtops are also fun, because fuck you corks. What the hell? I practically break my hand every time I open a goddamned wine with whatever corkscrew we have and then Ben yells at me for opening it wrong and it becomes some kind of horrible tutorial on how to open a wine in which I am totally not interested. And what are you trying to prove, with your fancy cork? Everybody has a cork! It doesn’t make you special. Just get one of those Bud Light vents and vortex riflings for all I care. I just want to put the wine in my mouth, not fuck around with a goddamned cork all night. So fuck you, corks. I am glad this doesn’t have a cork.
Vrac Rose: At first I liked this rose as much as I liked the one with the pig on the label. Then I missed the pig. I felt like I had betrayed the pig. I began to worry that I would never see the pig again, that he would never again wink at me with the same mirth. I wept for a while. Then I watched people get hypnotized on YouTube videos for a while. Then I cried some more, how I longed for the pig. Why did I push the pig away? Take me back, pig! I am sorry! I made a mistake! I was closer to the Christopher Street Path train stop than the World Trade Center Path train stop. It was raining! I just wanted a little goddamned wine! I didn’t mean to lose my pig forever. This Vrac doesn’t have any kind of animal on the label, and that made me lonely. I like to drink with friends. I love you, pig!
The Naked Grape Pinot Grigio: I bought this at the Jersey City Liquor store I go to buy Ben his Beck’s beer. I know, Beck’s! What the hell? But he loves it. It is not even imported from Germany anymore, they make it in like St. Louis. Ben may be the only person keeping Beck’s in business at this point. There is probably something desperately wrong with the Naked Grape Pinot Grigio, but beats me what the hell that is. It was white, it was perfectly fine. There was a whole bottle of it. It had a cork. Fuck you, corks. It didn’t have any animals on the label. So I guess that’s two strikes. But it was like $7. And for $7 I would probably drink grape urine.
Chateau de Pourcieux: I bought this because the sign said that this was Johnny Depp’s favorite wine. Also because it was like $10. It has a giant mansion on the front, which is a little unnerving. I can’t afford a sprawling estate, I just want a little wine. Why do you have to make me feel bad about my economic state, wine? With your little wine drawing of the shrubs and sprawling lawns of your goddamned rich people house. Whatever happened to the French Revolution? You guys had a couple good years in France and then the rich people took over again with their goddamned sprawling estates. Fuck you, France. How can you afford such a giant house only charging $9 a bottle? I will never be able to afford a house. I am lonely, pigless and afraid. With only the idea of Johnny Depp drinking the same cheapass wine with me to keep me warm. For some reason I keep buying this. To forget the pig!
Previously: Ballerina Problems
Jim Behrle tweets @behrle. Stay tuned for the next Cheap Wine Report.