We all know what I'm talking about above. When you can get $20 All-You-Can-Eat Chinese and wine in Manhattan, you know they're going to cut costs somewhere, and guess where that is? (RIP Chinese and Wine, you were so loved). I don't want to come off as a classist twat in this article, so rather than blabber a lot, I will make this as brief as possible.
When you buy cheap wine, like $5/bottle wine and such, you're not really buying wine, per se. You are buying a cocktail of alcohol - often derived from grapes, but not actually wine - and substances like Mega Purple (which is a grape-derived product) and wood chips and all sorts of things. And, while I'm not one of the commenters here who knows way more than I (and who I believe has much closer ties to the wine industry than I - she knows who she is :) ), all of this makes me give the side-eye to what we do when we continually drink such cheap wine. Long story (very short): the profits winemakers run on is razor thin, even for those rare Chateaus that craft $1,000+ bottles, and especially the tiny Napa (or hell, Connecticut!) farms who still hand-harvest. Mass production and the fiddle-fucking that giant wine/bev conglomerates perform undercuts the market, and often it's the laborers and farmers - the folks who spend days and nighs painstakingly working fields and watching weather and praying for harvests that work - who pay the price when the market if flooded with extremely cheap, artificially bolstered wine that will inevitably provide a more consistent product than the careful watching of fermentation tanks ever will. I will say the most snobbish thing ever right now and feel free to hate me for it: the American palate has been "trained" (for lack of a better word) toward consistent, uncomplicated, and often sweet wines. That's not to say we Yanks can't appreciate "better" wines, but that our market is truly flooded with mass-production wines (and most other large wine markets are now, as well).
That said, I know not everyone can afford wine that isn't treated in the above manner. I don't want to sound like one of those pricks that goes on about how Walmart should be illegal and we should all just flounce our money off to Trader Joe's or whatever (and eat some goddamn lentils and quinoa while you're there), because not everyone has the luxury to purchase wine that's $15/bottle. In fact, prior to my job which gives me access to beautiful, amazing wine, I definitely fished in the $5 bin because it's all I could afford.
I'm just saying, if you do have the ability to spend more on wine, and are interested in exploring wine (as opposed to stuffing yourself on Chinese food and getting drunk for $20), explore the $10/bottle and above range of wines are your local liquor store. It's better for the winemakers, and I promise the product will be better, too!
What I'm Drinking:
Terre Promise Rose 2012 ($15-$20 retail) - a traditional French Rose that I lurrve. We sell it, so I'm totally partial, but it's beautiful and it's my new best friend. Fuck the haters who say winter isn't rose season! I wrote its sell-sheet, so this is how I waxed poetic on it when more sober: The wine is rosy with salmon shades, highlighted by gold glints. The aromatic profile reveals a range of spicy aromas, combined with notes of brioche and warm, cooked red fruit. The mouth-feel is rich and round at first, with a good consistency that brings a silky finish on red fruits and spicy notes.