Wednesday, March 28, 2012

White Zinfandel through a straw

I just finished reading a book on how to live more like the French called Lessons from Madame Chic: The Top 20 Things I Learned While Living In Paris (Jennifer L. Scott, $2.99 on Amazon Kindle books), as recommended to me by a colleague with similar taste. Though at times poorly written (she basically threw her blog posts at some binding glue and called it done), it was excellent in that it revitalized me, made me think, and made some amazing points. If you can get past the moments of bad writing, it is a complete self-help, life-changing gem. Beyond giving great advice about dressing, eating, entertaining, and decorating – the author, Jennifer Scott, gave great advice about living as a whole. She suggests at one point in her book that 

“Seeking out nothing but quality in your life is not about being snobby or pretentious – it’s about being selective and discerning. It is about respecting yourself and your loved ones enough to realize that every moment in life is previous, so why not fill it with the highest quality things or experiences as possible?” 

This excerpt encapsulates my life philosophy - from the way I like to eat and dress, decorate my home, spend time with people, and finally the way I like to drink my wine. Ben likes to tell me that I’m being snobby and pretentious (about everything, not just wine), and I like that Jennifer Scott understands. There’s nothing wrong with wanting quality in your life, where you can afford and access it. There is just as little reason to drink low-quality wine out of the wrong glassware, as there is to eat rotten vegetables off of a Frisbee with a stick (except maybe when cost or alcoholism is severely limiting you). With wine so remarkably accessible and inexpensive (Target, Fred Meyer, Safeway, even gas station convenience stores, have great, well-priced offerings) , there is no reason to be tapping into your Franzia box with a reindeer mug on a Saturday night, unless, of course, you’re 17 and that’s all that you could get someone over 21 to buy for you (the mug is still inexcusable -it’s March!). If you can’t afford a $75 bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape (sobs) or one of Parker’s contested 100-point Bordeaux, there’s no reason to throw in the towel and chug a jug of Carlo Rossi or Yellowtail Moscato. Take the Columbia Crest Two Vines Chardonnay, for example, which is $6.99 at my local Walgreens and received 86 points with the Wine Spectator, or a bottle of Barnard and Griffin Rose, on the Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines list in 2008, for only $11. They may be triple, even quadruple, the price of two-buck chuck, but let’s be honest; shelling out an extra $3 for about 86 more points in value and taste is a remarkable deal not found in many other arenas of our material lives.

In addition to drinking quality wines, I think it’s rewarding to drink your wine out of the proper glassware (no more mugs, you recent grads, and god forbid anything plastic – we’re not camping). I recently was gifted Riedel glasses and a Vinturi aerator (definitely out of my personal price range, but perfect for gifts), and was blown away by the difference between drinking out of a stem-less red wine glass from Fred Meyer and the thin crystal Riedels designed for drinking wine. My mom recently purchased red wine glasses by Riedel Vivant, the Target line of Riedel, which were considerably less expensive ($40 for a set of 4 red wine glasses) and was also thrown at how much the glasses increased the quality of her drinking experience. She didn’t quite believe me when I said that the difference in taste was not only noticeable, but life changing. The glassware may encourage your now blooming wine to go down more smoothly, but it also allows you to fully experience wine the way it was meant to be experienced.

If $10 a stem is $10 a stem too much for you, I also recommend lurking around Goodwill or other thrift shops as they often have great glassware for fifty cents to a dollar a stem. Ben got a set of brand new Riedel beer glasses from Goodwill for a ridiculously good deal, and my champagne flutes are also from a local thrift store (fifty cents a flute and New Year’s Prosecco was a go). Additionally, TJ MAXX has excellent deals on stemware. I purchased my most recent entertaining wine glasses (my Riedels are for private tastings between Ben and I, not company) there and found a set of gorgeous Lenox non-leaded crystal red wine glasses for $20. 

Once you’ve thrown away your plastic sippy cups, stained purple from many a night alone with a Bota Box of wine – you’ll be amazed at the difference in experience proper glassware and good wine will make. Your enjoyment of the afternoon glass will turn into enjoyment of the experience of uncorking a bottle, pouring it through the decanter (or just swirling it around the glass), and drinking out of a glass made to accent the vivid fruit, lingering spice, and mouthfeel of a sip of wine.
Or, I guess, you can just sip a Beringer White Zinfandel with a straw and call it good…


  1. I love coming to this blog. There is always new information on wines and brings together people who love all types of wine together to discuss.
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  2. Wow, that sounds like a great book! Thanks for this good suggestion - I'll instantly see if I can order it and ship it to germany ;-)

    xxx Anitaa

  3. great tips! I often buy super cheap wine (they $2 one at Whole Foods is actually pretty good) for everyday but splurge for special events or when friends are over : )

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