I read this article today on Slate and was moved to anger. I love cheap wine, especially if it is delicious and doesn’t provoke a mind numbing hangover, as much as the next person and my owning a wine store doesn’t change this fact. Even with the entire store to choose from there are days when all I want is an easy drinking red that won’t challenge me but will be truly enjoyable. I wish I could stock my store with hundreds of wines for less than $10 but as it turns out this is only possible if you are willing to sell mass produced wines. I too am disgusted by the salesperson who steers you towards a $30 bottle when a $10 bottle of Cabernet would suffice, and I am still slightly intimidated by the salesperson who suggests three wines that are all in the $20 plus price range when I really just want a glass of wine not an education. But I refuse to fill my store with wines based on price alone.
Wine is an agricultural product and just like carrots, milk, or meat it costs money to grow grapes, especially if you are interested in growing your grapes organically or even sustainably. To paraphrase Michael Pollan; if you are concerned about the environment, or the workers health, or your own, you should be drinking wine made by winemakers not corporations. When you see a $4 bottle of wine at Trader Joe’s or Costco, think about it for a minute. Is it really possible to grow grapes, ferment them, bottle them – often in glass bottles with corks – ship them to various parts of the world, and then have them retail for $4? Yes, if you are spraying your vines with chemicals, yes if you are underpaying your vineyard workers, and yes if you are unconcerned about the end product and only concerned about your bottom line. Wine is a luxury item, as much as I hate to remind you of that fact, and as such I think you should be interested in buying the best possible luxury item. We buy organic cotton t-shirts, organic chocolate bars, locally grown apples and meat with a verifiable chain of production, not to mention Heritage Turkeys and glass baby bottles, so why should you buy crap mass produced wine? So, yes you are often shown bottles of wine that are almost $15 when you are shopping at Vine, and yes I don’t blame you if you cannot stomach spending more than $8 per bottle , if I am invited to your house for dinner I will in no way judge you. Instead I will either bring my own wine to share with you, or abstain from drinking any of yours.
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