Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Truth About Cheap Wine

The dearly departed AJ was a foodie. She didn't drink much at all, but she understood wine and food. She thought expensive meant good. Expensive for drinking, cheap for cooking. Thus she inadvertently started my love affair with Carlo.

I love wine. Sometimes I make wine because my father has some 200 muskadine vines in his backyard. It's a proper vineyard, but we just call it the vines. Making wine is a lot of work, none of hard, just time consuming. I give wine away because there are laws about how much you can make and keep. I always go over because the legal amount is so small it's almost not worth fooling with. To stay in the good graces of the law, I give a bottle to the sheriff. Bust me, no more wine for you!

Because wine has been readily available my whole life, I was a toddler when I got my first sip. My father discovered a sip or two would make me sleep and this is how he put me down for the night until my mother found out.

I know what good wine is- it tastes good.

I don't remember exactly how I got started with Carlo. I think AJ had just hosted a dinner party and there were several bottles in the kitchen. I remember there was some sherry, some Crown Royal, and two bottles of wine. She was watching tv and called to her asking if it was ok if I had some wine. Sure. I got the Carlo. AJ, not paying attention, assumed I got the expensive stuff. I came back with an ordinary kitchen glass and three inches of juice. I said, 'This is good.' and AJ said, 'Drink all of it.'

And so for three of four nights in a row, I drank cheap wine from every day glasses. Finally AJ realized the level in the expensive bottle wasn't going down and she was suddenly running low on cooking supplies. She walked into the living room amazed, 'You're drinking the CHEAP wine I COOK with!'

Yeah, so?

The next time you are in the store, read the expensive label. It will probably say something like 'Does not contain fruit juice' Well then what the fuck is made of? Carlo's label says '100% grape juice' Which is what wine is, fermented juice. As a winemaker, I cannot think of a way to create wine without fruit. You need grapes, blackberries, strawberries, peaches and the like. Fruit, fruit, fruit.

At work, some of the men were talking about a wine-tasting where supposed wine-snobs couldn't tell the difference between French wine and cheap American-buy-it-in-Kroger wine. The cheap wine won. My co-workers had an appreciation for Carlo, as not only is it affordable, but it is very smooth and does not cause indigestion.

I keep my wine on the table so it's handy. Kevin thinks that is terrible. He can't drink wine unless it's chilled. I'm used to dusting cobwebs off my bottle before popping the cork. You want chilled? Go out to the pump house in the winter. (No, we can't keep our illegal goods in the house. Someone might see it.)

I don't drink as much wine now. Damn diabetes. Wine is sugar. I also drink less beer because beer is carbs. Double damn. I've switched to rum. Captain Morgan, if you must know. Rum is a sugarcane byproduct but oddly enough has no sugar and no carbs. I pour it in my Diet Coke and when that's all you're allowed it's not too bad. When a cure is found I'm going to celebrate with a full every day glass of Carlo.

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