Tom's blog

Is it the wine -- or is it the alcohol?

I bought a case of wine the other day. That may not sound unusual for someone who writes about wine, but it was. Over the years I have amassed a small cellar that is maturing at a nice pace -- especially now that I'm not working and have less money to invest in wines that will probably mature after my death. But I generally save the older wines for a special dinner at home.

I get samples several times a week and happy hour is often spent analyzing a half dozen wines. That may sound like an envious task, but that joy of tasting free wine has worn off long ago. Many of the wines are quite pedestrian, so the remains often end up in the drain or in the hands of eager neighbors who are all too willing to consume the leftovers.  

People feel I'm lucky to have so much free samples at my disposal, but trust me, it's not as glorious as it sounds. These wines are analyzed, as they should be, and not stored in my cellar for later use. If I have a party, I open a few samples to get the opinions of others. If you drink all these wines -- the good and the bad -- the process becomes more about the alcohol than the wine. I don't ever want to get to a point where I am not discriminating when I drink wine. 

With this in mind, I ventured into a wine store and lazily cruised the aisles looking for inspiration. I quickly passed up Bordeaux and Burgundy, and meandered down the aisles of southern France, Alsace, and Spain. I wanted something I can enjoy tonight with my pasta or stew.

I realized how badly I missed discovering good value wines that I can open without guilt. A third of the wines I bought were from Spain -- a region that offers a lot of good bargains in the under $25 category. This region is so fertile in good wines.

I also bought several roses -- perfect for the warmer climate of Florida. And, I bought a few wines from the Rhone Valley. I didn't buy any domestic wines because I drink so many California and Oregon wines during the week.

Now, I have to find the time to drink them. And, it won't be just a job when I do.