Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The cheap but adorable

photo from wineandco.com
Being part of the legal community, I feel compelled to put a disclaimer at the top of this post, so here it goes. I am not a wine connoisseur and am not qualified to pass judgment on the merits of any wine other than whether it tastes good to me. With that said, I have come to think that it’s silly to shy away from writing about an indispensable part of my gastronomical experience simply because I am not an authority on the subject. After all, eating and drinking are intimate experiences that are personal to each of us. What we taste, no matter how eloquently described, could only be conjured by another based on his or her own taste library and not exactly reproduced to resemble that of the writer. In the area of wine, I am not afraid to admit that I have suffered through many glasses of throat scratching acidic liquids when trust is put in the hands of the ever influential Robert Parker. It’s extremely disappointing when anticipation for bursts of plums and black cherries materializes in a nose of menthol and an aftertaste of scorched earth. On the other hand, when a bottle that you bought out of desperation turns out to hit all the right notes, it’s time to write a blog entry.

The desperation bottle was purchased at a gas station (go ahead, you can gasp). I probably wouldn’t have resorted to such measures had it not being Saturday evening when the no alcohol sale Sunday is almost upon us and a white wine is really needed to go with my very light fish dish, which I was hell bent on making. The only thing going for Buddy’s, the gas station, was that a fellow blogger at winefoolery had dedicated a post to this midtown Atlanta landmark for carrying a decent selection of affordable wines. Skeptical, I stepped into Buddy’s tiny space bathed in the most unflattering fluorescent light. The wine selection was indeed surprising for a gas station. I surveyed the white wine section and didn’t recognize any that stirred excitement. Again, I am not a connoisseur and have dwelled for too long in the red zone to know much about budget white wines. While contemplating what to do, my wondering gaze zoomed in on a dependable label. There was a Penfold Koonunga chardonnay in the midst. Albeit it was one that I’ve never tried and really know nothing about, I felt it was probably as good a bet as any, especially at $6.95.

Come time to pop the cork, I had no idea what to expect. I suppose I could have looked online for some tasting information, but sometimes it’s just better not to know. From the moment the cork came out with a pleasant pop, one word registered in my mind – honey. The pale golden liquid perfumed like a jar of fresh tupelo honey. When I swirled the wine in the glass, there was almost a honey-like viscosity to the robe formed on the glass wall. When warmed in the mouth, there was the unmistakable fattiness of chardonnay accompanied by, you guessed it, a finish of honey rolling slowly towards the back of the throat. So there you have it, my first very amateur wine review summed up in one decidedly unsophisticated sentence – it smells and tastes like a pleasant honey and I liked it very much. For those of you that need a more authoritarian word, here is what wine library said.


Erwin Dink said...

Congratulations on being brave enough to give gas station wine a chance. This was a nice write up - you should continue to include wine as a topic.

Kate said...

I remember the first time I tried to buy beer on a Sunday in Georgia...we were in Ingles stocking up for a road trip, and the register girl rang up everything else, and then was like "I can't sell y'all this." We were aghast (and I'm *from* Atlanta). From then on out we bought whatever, whenever...so I understand your sunday-induced gas station panick. Great post =)

mainer chris said...

nice post - I have found similar comfort in the familiar Penfolds label. something about that bright red font and snazzy cursive...

feel free to link to any of our postings on winefoolery.net you've got a great blog yourself.

mainer chris said...

nice post - I have found similar comfort in the familiar Penfolds label. something about that bright red font and snazzy cursive...

feel free to link to any of our postings on winefoolery.net you've got a great blog yourself.

Snewo said...

I am now passionate about "Bargain Wines", although shopping at the gas station isn't really an option for me (I live in the NW ATL suburbs - our gas stations carry Boone's Farm).

I have a couple recommendations for the $6-$15 range:

1. Lindeman's Bin 70 2004 Chardonnay-Riesling: Not too sweet, with pleasant grassy notes. Smells like bee balm. Not acidic, and doesn't leave that scratchy thing on the back of your throat. Great buy.

2. Bodegas Muga Rioja Rose 2004
A really hard find right now, everyone seems to have discovered this one. I read about it in the LA Times, and found it at Sherlock's. A sommelier I met there starting gushing about it when he saw me carrying the bottle, and proceeded to follow me around the store. Yummy rose', not too sweet. They left enough skins in there to give it a pleasant fruity flavor, though. Reminds me of nectarines and cherries mixed.

3. Bogle Petite Syrah 2003 -
This is easily accessible and a great red. I haven't been drinking red lately because I want something chilled, but this one was a true addiction for a few months. Petite Syrah is way less complex on the palate than Pinot Noir, which is a little too high falutin for me. Bogle's 2003 has a lot going for it - deep cherry notes that aren't acidic. One sip fills the mouth pleasantly. Great buy.

Glad you found a cheapo store though. Most snobs refuse to patronize the gas station, so you may have a source for good stuff for at least a little while.