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Archive for the ‘General Rambling’ Category

So, readers, we’ve got some catching up to do. I’ve finally settled into fall and that means a change in my drinking habits. I’m waiting to bust out the big guns – the earthy ball-busters and powerhouse reds that I crave through the winter; California Cabs, spicy Syrahs, muscular Priorats and the like. Once I’ve started going down that path, and turned to the dark side, it’s hard to get back – so I’m biding my time with some in-betweeners.

That’s not to say, however, that the wines I’m drinking now are any less intoxicating than those lusty reds I’ll be cuddling up to when the snow starts falling. I’ve had quite a few infatuations this season that are exciting and delicious.

I’ve fallen head over heels with an Austrian wine called Blaufränkisch. Fresh berry flavors, bright acid, and delicious tannins make up the attributes that have me blushing every time I stumble upon a glass of this delightful wine. Did I mention that it’s insanely affordable at an average cost of $10 a bottle? Color me happy, folks. I’m also having a fling with another Austrian wine, St. Laurent – kind of like a male relative of that minx, Pinot Noir. With its sweet fruit, juicy tannins and ripe acidity this is a wine that seems fated for my Thanksgiving table – I have fantasies about sipping it alongside a plate piled high with turkey and cranberry sauce.

Recently, at the Savio Soares Fall Portfolio tasting in New York City, I tasted an example of each of these wines from a 100% Biodynamic producer called Pittnauer (the Blaufrankisch 2009, $9.99 and the St. Laurent Dorflagen 2009, $22.99). Savio Soares Selections is the importer of the moment in New York and Los Angeles. Savio, the owner, scours the world for small producers who make unique, delicious, and often biodynamic or natural wines. His wines are finding their way onto the wine lists and shelves of some of the city’s best restaurants and retailers (respectively, of course) and his portfolio is a wine geek’s paradise, filled with obscure varietals, regions, and producers.

I also have a big crush on the white wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon. It started a couple months ago with a bottle of Les Deux Rives Corbieres Blanc 2010 that I received as a sample courtesy of Pasternak Imports. The wine retails for $11 and has a gorgeous nose of ripe fresh fruits like white peaches that follows up with a velvety full body with fresh acidity and a long intense finish. I couldn’t get enough. My next encounter with a Languedoc-Rousillon white was, again, at the Savio Soares tasting where I had the chance to taste Domaine Rivaton Blanc Bec Vin de France NV that retails for $16. This wine was made from a mixture of Carignan Blanc and Carignan Gris and had an amazingly rich port-ish nose, a sweet and lusciously full body that ended on a delightful savory note of toasty caramel corn.

I’ve been strangely drawn to these rich and toasty whites lately. Another favorite from the Savio tasting was a white from the Cotes du Rhone made up entirely of an obscure little grape called Bourboulenc from the producer Le Clos des Grillons. The wine, Cotes du Rhone Blanc 1901 2010 (retails for $16) seduced me with a nose of rich caramel and buttered popcorn and then delivered a lovely wine with nice acid and savory flavors. It was the wine-equivalent of a sweet/salty treat.

Lastly, I was sent some samples from a boutique winery in the Willamette Valley in Oregon called Seufert that had me smitten. I’m not alone, here either – the winery’s Jonah Vineyard Pinot Noir was just named one of the top 5 Willamette Valley wines to seek out by Travel+Liesure Magazine. Seufert makes its Pinot Noir from grapes grown in some of the best sites in Oregon and I had the pleasure of trying their Vista Hills Vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA, Momtazi Vineyards in the McMinnville AVA (retails for $35 each), and my surprising personal favorite, a Willamette Valley AVA Pinot Noir called Pinotlicious (retails for $20). Almost more than I loved the wines was the fact that each wine came with a label on the back that gave a “snapshot” of the wine’s character and best food-pairings. Genius.

So now that we’re all caught up on my favorite Fall wines, I’ve got some exciting stuff that I’ll be posting over the next week or so. Look out for a roundup of wines that would be magnificent for your Thanksgiving Feast as well as a profile of The Noble Rot (and one of TONY’s “Wine Prophets), Johnny Cigar. In the meantime if you’re interested in getting your hands on any of the wines above, just plug ‘em into Wine-Searcher.com and see where you can pick ‘

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As I’ve delved deeper into the wine world, I’m constantly asked why it is that I’m so passionate about wine or how it is that I got to be such a wine geek at only 24. The question’s not so off-base when you consider that most very serious wine professionals are much older than I am now when they even started becoming interested in wine.

For me, the answer is complicated and the foundations for my passion can be found in unlikely places. A big part of my love for wine comes from growing up in Los Angeles, a surprising start for a story like mine.

When I think about Los Angeles, I can’t help but to think of one of my favorite places there – a certain turnout on Mulholland Drive that looks out across the L.A. basin towards the sea. At night, the basin is awash with sizzling orange lights – millions of street lamps – that cast a rancid glow over the entire scene. This little spot, tucked into the westerly side of the Santa Monica Mountains is brushed by a dry desert wind that is as natural as the orange glow is artificial. It’s a place of utmost contradiction – a place where an ancient breath, as simple and old as the mountains, mingles with the lights of a glittering wasteland.

I grew up in a small, wealthy enclave of Los Angeles tucked into a series of bluffs on the coast.  I don’t, for a minute, take for granted my charmed upbringing – a childhood awash with sea breezes and tramping through the chaparral that came so close, and so wild, right up against the backs of property lines. Along the bluffs that hang over the Pacific Ocean where I grew up racing through the stalks of wild fennel, its even possible to find views that afford a glimpse of how the coast must have looked when first seen by enterprising human eyes.


I live with these two conflicting images of Los Angeles; that of a sea of orange lights abutting the sudden darkness of the ocean and the wild beauty that still lingers, clinging to the bluffs on which I grew up.

Sometimes, when I think about the word “terroir” I think of bottling up all these little memories – the vivid striking ones that have stuck with me. I think of the smell of dusty eucalyptus and wild fennel. I think of a sea breeze raked through a wild hillside and mingling with the scents of sweet pollen and dried leaves. It’s all steeped in water scooped up from a spring rainstorm, gently tinged with the smell of wet asphalt.

And then there’s my strange craving for history. Growing up in a city where the past is daily demolished, swept away, and replaced with something new leaves a certain kind of nostalgia in its place. It’s a respect for old things borne out of awe that they’ve survived. It leaves you with an inclination to find history in obscure places like the wind coming down the mountain or the view from a bluff.

Living under the shadow of Hollywood, those nine white letters that sit high above the city and hold such power over the people who live there, has left me acutely sensitive to fakeness and instilled a preference for authenticity. It could have gone either way – I could have been drawn, enticed, and enchanted by the dream those letters represent, but I wasn’t.

Instead, somewhere in between the freeways, strip malls, and rolling housing developments I was completely entranced by a terraced and landscaped hill on which still stand dozens of mature fruit trees and wild berry brambles. That hill rose behind a house my family moved into when I was about ten years old.

That hillside awakened something visceral in me – a connection to the earth that has haunted me since. One summer’s harvest of peaches left me spellbound; plums offered proof that nature is sometimes best left to her own devices. Handfuls of sun-warmed blackberries were revelatory – and the apples? To bite into one of those little orbs was to understand why Eve could not resist. Everything I picked from a tree in our backyard tasted so much more like itself I was surprised I even recognized it.

Eventually we moved and I took to wandering the stalls of the farmers market, searching for the scents of that hillside, while my mother complained about the dearth of parking on Sundays.

When I graduated high school, more than I wanted to see the grand cities of Europe, I dreamed of visiting the Italian countryside – of eating local rustic food and wandering through olive groves and vineyards. So, my father took me to Tuscany where, for the first time, I tasted wine while looking out over the ancient gnarled vines that had produced it.

That is a quality of wine that endlessly fascinates me – wine’s unique ability to capture the essence of a place, or a season, or even a feeling and to convey it through taste. And just like the place from whence a wine comes, the wine – even trapped in a bottle, continues to shift and change slowly over time. You’ll often hear the notion that wine is a living breathing thing, and that’s true to an extent. But it’s also a moment, an impression, bottled and preserved. Wine’s connection to the land it came from is undeniable and that connection, for me, is irresistible.

So while there is no way for me to visit my memories of home except by closing my eyes and remembering, every time I take a sip of wine I’m gleaning some insight into the moments that produced it. I close my eyes and think about the vineyards the grapes came from, the smells that drifted over the vats of crushed grapes as they fermented, and the things that grew in the soil around the vines, imbuing each grape cluster with a tinge of memory.

That connection between the land, its own particular set of memories and impressions and the stuff in my glass is enthralling and exciting. Every bottle of wine is different, yes, but every sip of every glass is different, too. While there is an element of preservation in wine, there’s also the energy of change and chance that comes with every bottle. A glass of wine is a direct link to the place it came from and a unique impression of a moment – what could be more delicious than to taste the direct distillation of some wonderful place?

 

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Last night, I had the privilege of attending a blind tasting class at New York Vintners in Tribecca. The tasting was hosted by the venerable Bob Millman, whose company, Executive Wine Seminars (doesn’t that just sound so professional and serious?), has been hosting big deal wine tastings since 1981.

  New York Vintners is a pretty cool little spot – upon first inspection it just looks like a hipper-than-your-grandma’s wine shop. But take a closer look and you’ll notice that there’s a whole second half to the store – a space devoted entirely to wine education and tastings.

The store employs their own chef who hosts classes revolving around food and wine pairings and also caters the private dinners and tastings offered. Being that the store is relatively close to Wall Street, they get their fair share of banking big wigs and hedge fund guys coming through to nibble on expensive food and gulp big-deal wines.

In fact, New York Vintner’s owner, Shane Benson, was a Wall Street guy himself, once upon a time.  But we’ll get to him later.

I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into heading into last night’s tasting. I was a little bit intimidated by Bob Millman and thought I was headed right into a lions’ den of pretentious swirling, sniffing, and declarative statements regarding obscure bouquets and flavors. Happily, I was dead wrong. Instead of being greeted by a bunch of guys wearing monocles with slicked hair and ascots, I was greeted by a glass of Gruet Blanc de Noirs (sparkling wine) from New Mexico.

The tables were occupied by groups of single ladies, couples, and me. In line for the bathroom one half of a couple commended me for being “brave” and coming on my own. That’s a post for another day.

The tasting was what Bob called “double blind” – we had no idea what wines were being served except that there would be three whites and three reds. Before we dove into the white wines, which sat winking before us, Bob gave a quick presentation on how to approach tasting a wine. The quick and dirty of the presentation was this:

Appearance: Clarity & Intensity. For white wines, this meant taking a look at each glass and noting how intense the color was. Bob pointed out that the deepest, most golden of the wines was made from the ripest grapes. Ripe grapes, Bob went on to tell us, usually means more sugar and lower acid. For red wines, however, color can be a decent indicator of age (wines change color as they get very old – almost always to a brick or orangeish color) varietal (some grapes are naturally much darker – like Syrah) and tannin since the color is derived from the juice’s contact with the skins and tannin comes from the skins.

Aroma: Bob talked about swirling wine and why we do it – to bring up the bouquet. He also taught us a little technique that can come in handy if a wine has a “shy” bouquet (ie not easily detected). If a wine just refuses to open up he suggested swirling the wine with a hand over the top, then releasing your hand just as you stick your nose in the glass. This technique, Bob offered, can help whip up and then trap the odiferous vapors. I’m skeptical of how much this would help seeing as I’m not sure I believe that vapors magically appear by swirling – you need heat for vapors!

Palate: To discuss the “taste” of a wine, Bob gave us a few factors to consider:

Sweetness: A big part of wine is the result of converting sugar into alcohol. Residual sugar will show up in a wine when the wine maker stops this process from completing all the way (leaving some sugar behind) or when the wine maker adds sugar to a wine after the fact. Usually when we’re talking sweetness, we’re talking desert wines.

            Acid: Bob Millman is a self-professed “acid freak” and most serious wine drinkers would agree that acid is super important. When a wine has low acid it can seem sleepy or dull. But a wine with enough acid is awake and alive.

            Tannin: Tannin comes from grape skin – which is why you don’t usually find a lot of it in white wines. Tannin is also, for that same reason, the factor that keeps a lot of wine drinkers away from red wines. Tannin can be rough and unpleasant or it can lend structure and body to a wine. Bob used the anecdote that the French love to drink their wines young and tannic (sometimes I like to think of these as wines that kick your ass), the British like their wines old and soft (tannin breaks down with age), and the American’s just like their wine.

            Alcohol: Up until the 1980’s most wines had a respectable 11-12 1/2 % alcohol. Queue Global Warming and you’ve got wines weighing in with a hefty 13-14%. All that alcohol contributes body and(!) gets you drunker.

            Body: Here’s a tricky one. When you talk about body, what you’re really talking about is how much of your palate the wine hits before it disappears. Some wines only really hit the tip of your tongue before they vanish – these are super light bodied wines. Some wines will linger through, hit the middle of your mouth (mid-palate and usually middle body) before saying Au Revoir! But a big, full bodied wine will fill up your whole mouth, and then linger after you’ve swallowed.

            Flavors: Everyone gets different flavors from different wines. Next….

            Finish: Once you’ve swallowed a wine, how long does it linger? Does it give out and vanish right away? Does it leave a watery after taste? Or does it hang out and stay a while in your mouth?

Once we were all well-versed in the proper tasting technique, we got to actually downing some vino. I, of course, was playing a little game with myself trying to guess the varietals of each wine. I lost. Like, seriously – lost. But! To be fair, the sommelier snuck in a really obscure white wine from Sicily made from a varietal so obscure (Inzolia) that he’d only heard of it for the first time the week before (it was a super light and racy white wine that was so acidic it was almost briny). I don’t even count that one.  We also tasted an oaky Cotes du Rhone Blanc (Viognier, Roussane & Marsanne blend) and a gorgeous Verdejo from North-Central Spain.

As for the reds, we tasted a Rosso di Montalcino (made entirely from Sangiovese – the oak should’ve given it away! Damn!) that I thought was either Beaujolais or, perhaps, a Dolcetto. We followed that up with a 2009 Bordeaux (a super ripe vintage that tricked even Bob into thinking we were sipping on a fruit-bomb California Cab) and my personal favorite – a 100% Syrah from the Rhone that was unctuous on the nose (comments from the peanut gallery: “It smells like dank dirty ass!”) and just gorgeous on the palate. I thought it was a Nebbiolo because of the barnyard-and-tar aroma. Wrong. Again. Lastly, we were surprised with a fourth wine when the winemaker showed up near the end of the tasting and threw his wine into the mix. This last wine was a real treat – an elegant, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend from South Africa that we were all happy to have tacked on to the end.

The tasting over, I tucked into a conversation with some of the people sitting around me while the staff poured the leftovers for anyone who wanted them. Usually, I’d be embarrassed to admit that I was one of the last two people to leave, but I was rewarded with a glass of an unbearably delicious Barbera d’Alba (you know how I love me some d’Alba anything!) and a great conversation with the owner, Shane.

Wearing a rediculous tye-dyed shirt (I warned him I’d have to give him shit about the shirt), Shane told me his story – how he went from culinary school to Wall Street (seriously, you’d never think it from the tye-dye) to owning New York Vintners. We talked about how the wine world is exploding, that people should drink what they like (even if its $3 wine from Trader Joes), and how we can’t wait to see wine snobbery fly out the window. Both Bob and Shane told me that the Blind Tasting class was their favorite class because it was a great way to introduce people to the right way to thinking about wine. Freed from expectations, people could approach each wine with the simple question of, “Do I like it and why or why not?” – which is exactly how everyone should find the wine they love.

Shane and his team have built a super friendly, relaxed, and fun space to taste and learn about wine. Especially if you’re interested in the relationship between food and wine, I’d head over to their website and take a look at the classes. Many of the people I talked to at the tasting had already been to three or four classes and had come back for this one. At $50 a pop for at least three glasses of wine and food, it’s a real value and a great way to spend an evening.

            Psst….! PS. Keep an eye out for a post coming up about Champagne & Sparkling wines and a fall wines roundup I’m working on! Cheers!

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So, one of the things I’ve been trying to do lately is actually get out there and spend some more time in the wine world. All of this is, of course, in the name of bringing you more snarky commentary and helpful advice.  One of the ways I’ve been doing this is by trying to attend more wine tastings and let me tell you – boy, it is a jungle out there.

Just this past week I went to two very different tastings (I know, tough life, right?) – the first was Garnet Wines (one of NYC’s most beloved wine shops) First Annual Fall Harvest Wine Tasting on the Upper East Side. Despite what Gossip Girl would have you believe, while there is a small portion of the UES that is inhabited by glamorous rich people, there are also a lot of old people and “young professionals” (bankers, finance guys, lawyers, and the Tory-Burch-clad girls who love them).

Anyways, the tasting was (not surprisingly) mostly populated with respectable looking older     people – the kind of people whose kids I would probably be friends with – and younger guys in yellow sailboat ties. The whole point of the event was to go and try a whole bunch of wines that the store was selling – you could place an order for bottles and cases as you walked around and sipped. It would be fair to say that I, being a female under 30 and the only person in the room wearing skinny jeans and also not in any kind of financial position to buy loads of wine, was the odd man (erm..woman?) out in the room. Nevertheless, I drank some awesome wine and passed a pleasant evening tasting and talking with strangers.

Last night’s wine tasting was a horse of a whole different color. I ventured out to Brooklyn for Second Glass’s Wine Riot. I’ve been talking the event up on this site because, in full disclosure, I’ve known the company’s founder and CEO, Morgan First, since high school and I think the concept behind their company is pretty awesome. This time around the crowd was way younger – mostly people in their 20’s and 30’s, there was music being pumped into the room, plastic stemless wine glasses instead of the usual suspects, and an air of giddy excitement.

These two very different wine tasting experiences placed side-by-side offer an interesting view of how the wine world is changing. The Garnet Wine tasting was far more traditional and so was the audience – the younger people at this tasting were the kind that were suddenly coming into respectability and felt compelled to grow up and learn about wine because that’s what you do!

At another party (this time I freeloaded off of some friends – cheers!) earlier in the week, I talked to a (straight!) Marc Jacobs lookalike about how he’d gotten into whisky as he’d approached 30 exactly because it was something he thought he should know about. When I asked about wine he said that it was something that he thought he’d come around to when he was approaching 40. 40!

The young people at Wine Riot were there because it was an event for them as much as it was about the wine – they were happy to be wandering around sipping wine all night instead of taking shots because the atmosphere was just as amenable to sipping a Jack and Coke as a Barbaresco from Piedmont.

Wine Riot was much more about bringing wine into a space and attitude that young people are familiar with than bringing young people into the “wine world” and the result was total success!

So my take away is this:

1. I’m gonna work on a post about how to attend a wine tasting without looking like an idiot 

2. There is no reason why young people shouldn’t be drinking more wine but the reason they’re not is because it’s still put up on this ridiculous shelf that a lot of people think you’re not supposed to reach until you’re 40 (40?!!).

3. I will continue to work tirelessly to correct the wrongs inherent in #2.

Lastly, what’s the point of going to these wine tastings if I can’t share with you some delicious new finds, right? Below is a list of my favorite wines from both of the tastings – cheers!

Chateau de Paraza Minervois 2009, $9.99: This wine from the Garnet tasting just about ran away with my heart. It is a simple bistro wine – a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre from the Languedoc region that was delightfully savory. It actually kind of tasted like stew and, more specifically, the carrots that you slice through like butter –  so rich.

Segura Viudas Brut Cava, $10: For $10, this is an amazing wine. It’d be no less delicious at $50/bottle.  With the teensiest amount of sugar (7g in a 750 ml bottle – that’s like…nothing!), this is a rich and full-flavored sparkler with an elegant bubble, notes of ripe apples, pears, and almonds.

St. Francis Winery Red Splash 2008, $15: I’ll be honest, this was one of the last wines I tasted at Wine Riot so I don’t remember a ton about it except going back for seconds because it was really yummy. What I can recall is a juicy, rich red wine that drank easily and satisfied.

Au bon Climat Chardonnay, $16: I was really skeptic about this one – I’ve really tried to like Chardonnay, guys, really, I have. But, at the end of the day, I have to admit that it’s just not my favorite. This wine blew my mind – it had just the right amount of slightly toasty oak – lending it a smokey richness that gave way to notes of hazelnuts and pears.

Austin Hope Trouble Maker (Paso Robles, CA), $20: A blend of Syrah, Grenache, Petit Sirah, and Mourvedre, this wine is so-named because, according to the guy pouring it, “It’s lots of trouble to make!” Indeed, the wine is made from grapes from three different vintages (2008, 2009, and 2010).  Besides being weird, it was also really delicious.

David Bruce Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir , $25: I think I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am not the biggest Pinot Noir fan – usually its just too light. But, the PN’s I do love are usually from Sonoma Coast or Santa Barbara and this one is no exception. David Bruce also makes a really good Petit Sirah worth checking out.

2009 Hauner Hiera Salina, $18: This was my absolute, hands-down, favorite from the Garnet Wines Tasting. My tasting notes read: “Wet earth, raspberries OMG”. The nose is where the wet earth comes in and it tastes very rustic until about mid-palette when it explodes into flavors of ripe raspberries. To die for.

Arlaux Pere & Fils Champagne Brut 2009, $36.99: A tiny producer in Champagne that, after one sip, will have you saying, “Veuve wha -?”. With a beautiful floral nose, the first taste is a really lovely “grapey” taste that tapers off into delicate notes of sweet almonds.

2009 Domaine Michel Bouzereau Beaune 1er Cru Les Vignes Franches, $70: Ok, this one is a stretch. BUT! It’s from Burgundy! And it had the most amazing perfume – seriously, like sticking your nose into a bouquet of roses and violets. And the wine was slightly effervescent on my tongue and had really nice savory quality to it that gave it substance.

 

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Leaving a job…trying to find a new one…getting ready for a highly anticipated trip to Martha’s Vineyard for some good old fashioned East Coast Summering….oh. And writing this.
For any of you who have never read Thought Catalog, its a great online magazine that gives young writers (like yours truly) a great outlet to get random articles/essays published. The writing is fun and often really insightful so take a look and make sure to read my article!

Thanks all and much love until I return!

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1. First off, I’d like to congratulate the NYT for finally realizing that good wine is now coming in boxes. Hey, it only took you a year to get it together and if you used my blog post for inspiration (funny cuz Eric Asamov notes some familiar examples of good boxed wine) that is a-ok. Also, NYT – get it together on the trending pieces – dresses in summer? the Brooklyn flea? What’s next….the revelation of short pants?

2. If you found yourself here because you googled “woman with legs open” you are either 13 or you really think you are going to find porn in google images – probably both (that is one of the top google searches that will land you right here on this lovely little blog). Trust me, all you’re going to find through google are sterile and totally unsexy medical images. Try googling “free porn” instead.

3. Happy Wednesday, all…you’re halfway to the weekend (woot woot)! Go celebrate with a bottle of wine or what not.

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        Seven months ago, when I set out to create this blog, one of my goals was to write about wine in a way that spoke to people my own age. So many of my friends or acquaintences were self-professed “foodies”. They watched Top Chef religiously, they went to the newest restaurants and ate food that was seasonal and reveled in identifying esoteric ingredients and obscure cooking techniques. They drank craft beer and frequented bars helmed not by bartenders but mixologists and paid $14 dollars for artisanal cocktails. They were the first brave and eager patrons of the food trucks that spawned an army of restaurants-on-wheels doling out gourmet-fusion fare.


With this proclivity for the obscure and complicated, how hard would it be, I thought, to make the leap from molecular gastronomy and the like to wine? The answer, seven months later, is that wine is still a no-mans-land for most of the people described above. In the last few weeks I’ve been asked more than a few times why, exactly, it was, I thought, that young people still hadn’t “discovered” wine in the same way that they’d “discovered” food? In short, the question they were asking was, “Why am I the only 20-something they know who is a wine geek?”

Well, I have some theories.

Wine is at odds with the cultural phenomenon of hipsterism

As someone recently mentioned to me, if you’re in your 20’s its almost impossible to defend or define yourself as “not a hipster” to anyone in our parents’ age group. The term is so loose and so vague precisely because there is such a vast array of “types” of hipsters within the broader category. However, no matter if you’re of the vegan-hippie variety or the salvage-obsessed (of obscure cultural moments or otherwise), there is something about hipsterism that promotes an attitude of prolonged adolescence and eschews anything that might be too serious.

Previous generations were anxious to grow up, get out of their parents’ houses, get jobs, and find success. We are generally a group that is too busy reveling in the anxiety of “feeling lost” and indulging our desire to “find ourselves”. Our parents, not wanting us to end up as “unhappy” as they are, have allowed us and often encouraged us to pursue this alternative course in the hopes that we may end up “happier” if we can avoid becoming grown-ups as quickly as they did.

Wine, despite all efforts by winemakers and marketers, hasn’t been able to shed its association with the realm of the grown-up. Fine dining transcended the boundary between these two worlds by humbling itself in the form of upscale comfort food and by employing “artisanal” products that were made by the “little guys” who shunned the conventional model and were, thus, embraced by hipsterist culture.

Wine doesn’t get you drunk fast enough

            Alright, maybe you’re not a hipster. No matter, if you’re around my age, no matter what you consider yourself, if you went to college, you probably did a lot of drinking. I mean a lot. Like, scary a lot. Most of the people I know who are my age and even older, have carried their college-drinking habbits into adulthood with them. True, most of them aren’t getting blackout every night, but there’s a good chance that when they are going out, they’re heading out with the intention of having a debaucherous night of wreckless abandon. Often, the goal is blackout and if it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t a good night.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no teetotaler. When the mood strikes I’m usually the first one to suggest tequila shots – the bad kind, too, thrown back with a lick of salt and a desperate suck of lime. But most of the time I’d rather have a few drinks with friends and be a functioning human the next morning rather than spend an entire day in bed with a headache, stomachache, and only a faint will to live.

However, even those who have graduated from the habbit of destroying themselves every weekend, are not drinking wine. No, they’re drinking those fancy cocktails I mentioned earlier. Sure, they are expensive, but they’re truly delicious and they can still get you drunk relatively quickly. They have alcohol in them that they’re familiar with – these kids don’t have a clue what Barbera or Gewurtztraminer is, but they know the difference between Rye and Bourbon.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that wine just doesn’t have the allure of being a get-drunk-quick-fix. Wine is for dinner parties and long conversation – its for sipping not gulping. Until the culture that surrounds drinking changes, wine won’t ever have the same allure as even the most hoity-toity of cocktails or spirits.

Nobody believes that cheap wine can be good wine

Wine is still largely viewed as something that’s too expensive. Forget trying to explain that one bottle of wine at even, say, $30 a bottle (at four large-ish glasses to a bottle) is still cheaper or about the same price as buying four gin-and-tonics at your average NYC bar.

And as far as cheap wine goes – you’re talking about an age group that came of age at the same time as Two-Buck-Chuck. In other words, standards aren’t very high and it’s hard to convince someone that you can actually get decent wine at $10 or $11/bottle if you do just a little bit of homework.

Along that same line of thought, because the only wine that they have tasted is the super-cheap variety, a lot of people around my age have just resigned themselves to the idea that they don’t really like wine very much anyways.

The local movement didn’t help, either

If you’re not in California, Washington, or Oregon, its going to be pretty hard to find a great bottle of wine that can be considered “local”. Pretty much anywhere else, however, and New York included, you can probably find locally-made spirits or beer. In New York, at least, it’s much cooler to buy a bottle of small-batch gin that was distilled in Brooklyn by a small operation than to buy a bottle of wine made by a tiny biodynamic winery somewhere in the Languedoc.

So that’s it, folks. That’s all I got. If you have got a better idea, I’d love to hear it.  Next up might be the story of how, exactly, I “got into wine” – another question that has been popping up with more and more frequency. I also have some great posts coming up – including one all about cooking with/and wine. So stay tuned! 

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