Archive

Posts Tagged ‘inexpensive wine’

The Case for $3.49 Wine

December 19, 2022 Leave a comment

My latest (hopefully the last for the year) travel took me to Washington, DC. After arriving in the evening, I wanted a glass of wine and a bite to eat. The restaurant at the hotel was closed. I’m sure it would have been easy to find a place to eat nearby, but Whole Foods right across the street offered a different option.

I walked into the store only thinking about the food. But the entrance took me directly to the wine section, so obviously, I had to stop and look around. There were definitely some interesting options available, including some Virginia wines. And then I saw Cabernet Sauvignon for $3.49. When I travel, I love to explore the wine options, especially the cheap inexpensive wines, so the wine looked absolutely irresistible.

When in Europe, I’m very confident about such inexpensive wines – chances for disappointment are quite low. The US is a different story. Trader Joe’s is the only place where you can find wines for $4-$5, and sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn. Of course, Trader Joe’s has its own $3.49 wine, Charles Shaw, formerly known as Two Buck Chuck. I had Two Buck Chuck before, and my curiosity was satisfied. Now I needed to find out how this $3.49 wine would fare.

Before we talk about this particular wine let’s talk about the concept of inexpensive (cheap?) wine. “Cheap wine” sounds almost offensive so let’s use the gentler “inexpensive” term.

I’m sure a lot of serious wine lovers in the US would frown upon the wine at such a low price. They might get a bottle for cooking, but even then there is a well-known adage that you should cook with the wine you will enjoy drinking. But beyond cooking, to buy a bottle for $3.49 to drink or entertain friends would be a big “no-no”.

My case for such an inexpensive wine would be for both uses, of course assuming the wine is palatable – this is clearly the most important requirement. Cooking is no brainer – when I make a beef roast in a slow cooker for 7 hours, I honestly believe that whether I will use a $3.49 bottle, or $349 bottle of La Joie Vérité, it wouldn’t make a detectable difference, so even if one can afford it, the question is why.

Now the friends’ entertainment aspect is also essential. You see, I have a group of friends who all love wine. I would never offer $3.49 wine to these friends at dinner, with the exception of maybe a curiosity sip. I’m always ready to open whatever bottle I have in the cellar when we get together, with no exceptions. And then I have other friends, who I love equally as much, but who don’t care about wine at all. $349 wine would not make them excited even the tiniest bit and would be clearly a waste of wine (not even talking about the money).

Don’t get me wrong – this is not for the lack of trying. Believe me, I tried. We don’t need to single out those really expensive bottles, as nobody tries to show off or prove any points. There are plenty of absolutely amazing wines under $20 which would bring me literally into the nirvana state – and would never extort even the hint of “wow” from my friends, just at the best a polite “hmmm, this is nice”. Serving a $3.49 bottle under such circumstances makes absolutely perfect sense – especially if you, the wine snob in disguise approve that $3.49 bottle.

Those of you who know me well already figured that I wouldn’t go into such a diatribe if I wouldn’t have the $3.49 wine I want to bring to your attention. But of course…

Non-vintage Three Wishes American Cabernet Sauvignon (13% ABV, $3.49), produced by Three Wishes Vineyards in California – in a few words, well-balanced and inoffensive – or maybe smooth is a better word. This is not a concentrated Napa Cab, which instantly takes ownership of your palate – this wine is mellow, it has black and red berries to offer, it is not sweet, and it has a good amount of acidity. Yes, it is simple. Yes, it is not thought-provoking. But for the price, there are plenty of people who enjoy an occasional unpretentious glass of wine who would be absolutely delighted with this wine. What’s important is that majority of the wine drinkers should be either unaware of the price, or simply grow up above the wine snob level. This is unfortunate, but wine is really one of those products where people are afraid to spend too little (and this can be the subject of another post). Bottom line – if you are simply looking for a glass of wine with your meal and not for the wine experience – you can get it with this wine.

And now I rest my case.

%d bloggers like this: