I'm of the opinion that there's no bad wine anymore. Modern winemaking and viticulture have killed off the rotgut of yesteryear, vanquished the swill of the past, and sent the skunky stuff packing.
However, that doesn't mean that there isn't some wine that's better than other wine.
Of late, I've been drinking a lot of el cheapo wine. But not too long ago, I discovered that the Whole Foods near KPCC's Mohn Broadcast Center in Pasadena carries wines imported by Kermit Lynch. As I've already blogged here at DeWine Report (heh heh), I'm a fan.
I was even more delighted to discover that Lynch is now selling his own self-branded blends. I picked up a bottle of the Côtes du Rhône ($14).
Lynch has always had something of a preferred style for reds, particularly where Rhônes are concerned: bold, lusty, rustic, expressive of place but not stingy when it comes to powerful fruit-driven flavors, and with a healthy, immensely satisfying blast of spice and oak on the finish.
The wine store. The wine section at the grocery store. The wine retail website. Terrifying experiences for many. Sweat. Shakes. Nervousness. So many labels. So many labels. So many labels...
There's an easy way to avoid this anxiety, so common among even more experienced wine drinkers. Forget the front of the bottle. Concentrate on the back.
The back label is where, often, the wine importer's logo can be found. Now, I'm talking about wines from Europe, primarily, here. If all you ever drink is California wine, you don't need this advice.
At right is the famous logo of Kermit Lynch, an importer who owns a wine store in Berkeley, CA and who is highly regarded for seeking out rewarding, delicious French wines that don't cost an arm and leg. I've been a fan since I lived in Brooklyn and had access to the Lynch portfolio through my local wine shop. (Lynch also wrote one of the great wine books, "Adventures on the Wine Route," in which he recounts his experiences finding unusual wines and passionate winemakers in France.)
UPDATE: A commenter has me thinking that Three Wishes may be produced by...the same people who make the Chuck (The Bronco Wine Company)! A bit of an interesting "conspiracy" in the ultra-cheap wine world? It would create an interesting wrinkle in Whole Foods' "chuck the Chuck" argument. I'll see what I can learn...
A little more than a month ago, Whole Foods rolled out an alternative to Trader Joe's "Two Buck Chuck," the lineup of $1.99 Charles Shaw wines that have been wildly successful for the retailer. Whole Foods isn't kidding around: "chuck the Chuck" is its sales pitch.
I've always believed that Two-Buck Chuck is among the most imporant wines every introduced. The wines aren't very good. But they have made it possible for people to load up on wine and drink it more frequently. Brilliant. Plus, the brand has become an institution and eliminated much of an anxiety that wine seems to induce. It comes in a premium-type wine bottle and it has a cork. It's not a jug wine. It's not a box wine. It's not rotgut.