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Wine as the Supporting Player in an Ensemble Cast at Home

People who love wine generally consume more of it at home than anywhere else. And regardless of the quality of their glasses or the extent of their cellars, those who most enjoy wine at home share one attribute: a commitment to drinking it.

Many people who profess to value wine break out bottles only on special occasions, or on weekends. But people who really love wine think of it as an ordinary part of their meals, like salt or bread. Regular consumption is the single most important characteristic of the confident wine lover.

The benefits of commitment far outweigh a primer on proper glassware or schematics for pairing food and wine. Drinking wine regularly develops your critical ability and your sense of your own taste. And it helps answer the crucial question: Do you like wine enough to want to learn more about it? If you do like it, the repetition of pouring a glass with a meal becomes a pleasurable learning experience, which in turn leads to a greater sense of confidence. That, more than anything, improves the experience of drinking wine anywhere.

Regular wine consumption does not mean you need to drink a lot. It could be just a glass with dinner. Or a couple could share a bottle, which, like the 90-foot baseline in baseball, is just the right proportion: Two people can generally finish a bottle happily rather than woozily. Either way, or anywhere in between, regular drinking renders wine ordinary in the best sense rather than extraordinary.

Some people may shy away from regular wine drinking as self-indulgent or hedonistic, and they would not be wrong. Good food is pleasurable, and good wine enhances that pleasure. But wine is not the end itself. Adding wine as an ingredient of a good meal diminishes the need to focus on it.

For regular drinkers, wine is no longer a novelty. It’s simply a supporting player in an ensemble cast that includes food and those with whom you share it. You want good wine, of course, but good wine does not have to be profound, attention-grabbing or expensive.

Exciting bottles are not hard to find for $10 to $20, although most are closer to $20 than $10. If you are sharing the bottle among several people, it does not add up to a great deal. Still, if drinking well at home requires commitment, part of that commitment is financial.

But the investment does not have to be great, especially with equipment. You could drink wine out of juice glasses if you wish, though the experience improves greatly with good stemware, which doesn’t have to be expensive. Similarly, you can spend hundreds of dollars on meticulously engineered corkscrews, but a basic waiter’s tool for about $12 will reliably open anything.

You don’t need to own a lot of wine to drink it regularly. If you have a mixed case of wine on hand — reds, whites and a sparkler or two — you don’t need more. Replace as needed, preferably by becoming a regular at a good wine shop and developing a beneficial relationship with a knowledgeable merchant.

Don’t worry that wine will be ruined if you leave it in an open bottle for two or three days. Wine, especially young, fresh wine, is sturdier than we imagine, and so doesn’t require special pumps, stoppers or other knickknacks marketed as preservers. Older wines are more fragile and should be saved for occasions when they can be consumed in one sitting.

The time may come when, having decided that you love wine and want it to be part of your life, you begin to buy a lot of bottles.

The wine itself is the most important investment, but to care properly for the wine, especially bottles that you want to age, you will need long-term wine storage. If you have a house with a cool, damp cellar, you’re in luck. Just keep your wine there in whatever sort of shelving you choose. If you live in an apartment, it will be worth getting a wine refrigerator (or two), or off-site storage. Inevitably, loving wine costs money. But if you love it, the money is well spent.

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I keep going back and forth between wanting to regularly drink wine and not wanting the empty calories. 

I do the same, go back and forth, have wine on some nights, but not all, except when I am away from home, I drink and eat more, been on a big beer kick on my visit to Seattle :)

Isn't Mike's Hard HUGE in Seattle?

I guess it's made in Seattle by a Canadian company, and was very popular, but I think it's waned in recent years?   I remember Bartles and Jaymes brand, as being one of the few sweeter bottled drinks way back, of course there was Boones Farms before that.  Mike's was the new best thing when it came around, but now there is a huge amount of "ciders" on the market!

Wow what a list!  

Stella Artois Cidre brand, Belgian Brewer, marketed as a European style cider/cidre. Distributed by Anheuser-Busch in USA[37] <-- sooo refreshing 

Couple of "Scrumpy's" on the list.  Must investigate.


I dunno, sounds cool.  Must invetigate.

Please do.

Classic!  Though I don't think Grandma should drink and drive!

Wow, that is SO 1970s! She seems to drive pretty well.

Adam, it's impossible for wine to have empty calories because of the conviviality, as well as the in vino veritas.  So tipple away.

Janill, great post!

It's true about wine and home consumption.  And here in Austin our recycled waste stream is 38% glass, which is WAY above the national average of ~8%... lots o' people tippling beer and wine... and probably Tito's too.

As a former restaurant owner, beverage sales are where the profits are and I HATE to buy wine while out at dinner.  Like my European friends suffering from VAT madness, I instead prefer sharing a bottle at home or a friend's place first then proceeding to our eatery of choice.  I also hate bringing in my own goods and paying corkage fees, but I do get the reasoning and have paid the freight in the past for special occasions.

The likely BEST option for tippling in public these days (where available) is WHOLE FOODS MARKET.  You can waltz in, sit down with friends and/or cruise the scene solo and drink any bottle of wine or beer in inventory on the premises and then even take what you don't finish home with you (or wherever you may amble) all at 1/3rd to 1/4th the cost of any other eating establishment.  Why pay retail, Oy Vey!

You can enjoy and sample any wines of choice: no corkage fees, no 20% gratuities for opening the damn thing and no sycophants upselling you tableside.

Quite a lovely selection of Pinots and Crémants too.

I see, counting wine calories is like looking at a price tag without seeing the value. 

Well played, Rob. 


Indifferent people?

The right wine with the right food with the right people sharing.  It doesn't get any better....

That's three rights. That's a lot of rights!

And then comes the bill ... of rights!

That's ten rights. Just 7 to go...

Don't three rights make a left?

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