Sunday, August 26, 2007

Whining About Wine

An enophile is someone who is knowledgeable and appreciative of wine. A sommelier is someone who has actually studied all aspects of wine and can allegedly give recommendations as to food and wine pairings. A wino is someone who consumes large quantities of wine. I fall closer to the last category. I like my wine.

I don't think I'm a wine snob by any means. I hardly know what makes a chardonnay any different than a chenin blanc. I don't care about having red wine with red meat, or whatever. I believe you should drink whatever you like with whatever you want. My palate is not so special that I can tell any sort of "oaky, cherries, berries, honey, blah blah blah" in a wine.

I tend to prefer the sweeter wines and I really love ice wine. The problem with that is #1: they are rather on the pricey side and #2: they have more sugar than normal, something I definitely don't need. I will buy a nice dessert wine every once in a great while. They usually come in half bottles, which means one glass for me. If I really load it up with ice I can maybe stretch it to two glasses.

Many, many years ago I found the perfect wine for me. It was Fetzer's Gewuerztraminer. Back then it was about $3.98 a bottle. I felt like I had stumbled on my own little treasure. It's a fairly sweet wine, but not so much that you get sick (unless you drink way too much, but that's another problem). For me it was the perfect "every day" kind of wine.

But then I noticed a disheartening thing. The price of my Fetzer started going up. Soon it was six something a bottle. Then over the years it went up to eight dollars where it remained for a while. Then it started climbing up again. First $9, then $10. At our local Albertson's store it's now $10.99 a bottle.

It seems other people must have discovered my secret yummy wine.

Well, sadly, I stopped drinking it unless the store had it on sale. Then one day I was in our local Trader Joe's store and found the Fetzer for around $7. I don't go in there too often, but when I did I would stock up on it. When we got a World Market store I checked out their wine and they also happily have the Fetzer for a fairly reasonable price, comparable to Trader Joe's. Nowadays it's up a dollar or two in those stores.

When Winco (a cheaper, bag-it-yourself grocery store) opened I was ecstatic to find the Fetzer for $6.83. Inevitably the price did start inching up and today I found it at $8.12.

As much as I like my wine, I had to find a substitute. I found it at Winco. It's called Forestville, also a Gewuerztraminer. It's not quite as smooth as the Fetzer but it can definitely take it's place, for me at least. At Winco it is currently selling for $2.98 a bottle. Strangely enough, on a few websites that very wine is selling for about $8 a bottle.

I once went to the Fetzer winery when I was passing by Hopland, CA on another adventure. In the gift shop I was surprised to see the Gewuerztraminer cost the same as in the Albertson's store. I was left very confused by the clerk's explanation that places like Trader Joe's and Costco can buy in such bulk they can afford to sell the wine cheaper. Excuse me, but you mean you have to buy your own wine? Isn't it YOUR winery? I just don't get it.

So for now I have a new favorite wine, based on personal preference and cost. I still drink other (more expensive) wines but tend to save those for special occasions. I also enjoy a "cocktail" on occasion, expecially a good margarita on a really hot day.

And now it's time for a little wine. As we used to say in Germany "Zum Wohl!"

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