I’m bored with wine

Of course I’m not! I love wine. I’m just bored of ordinary wine. As a wine columnist for the Lady I get sent lots of samples. It sounds very exciting but the truth is that most of them aren’t very good. The whites in particular are desperately dull. My wife doesn’t even try them anymore. During this bout of sunny weather it has dawned on me that I would rather drink a gin & tonic, an Aspalls cider or even a bottle of Heineken than almost any sub £7 wine. There was an article in the Spectator  that got a lot of flack called Why Does Anyone Drink Wine by top advertising guru Rory Sutherland:

“But wine drunk on its own is often a terrible drink, usually consumed for appearances’ sake, or because the drinker lacks the confidence to complain, or for want of any alternative source of alcohol.”

You can read the whole thing here. I don’t agree with everything he says; he makes the mistake of conflating two types of wines, ordinary stuff, which is drunk by the undiscerning drinker or drunk by the discerning drinker when he’s not being discerning, and the more interesting stuff. But broadly, it’s hard to disagree with him. If you want something delicious, you’re almost always better off having a non-wine drink.  

The problem with cheap wine is that producers are trying to make a consistent product out of a an inconsistent annual crop. Wine doesn’t take well to industrial production. Grapes lose flavour when over-cropped. Rivals to wine: beer, cider, gin etc. don’t have these problems. They’re not aiming to be vintage. The big brands are industrial products and they’re not ashamed of it. Yes there’s an awful lot of bad beer and cider around, but most pubs, supermarkets and corner shops offer a few interesting beers, a decent cider and a superb selection of spirits for the same price as the not-so-good stuff.

This summer we’re drinking cocktails and my wife is happier than ever. The only problem is what to do with all those leftover samples. I could give them to my neighbours but the best thing to do with a cheap white is to add Aperol or Campari, fizzy water and ice to make a Bicyclette. Or you could party like its 1979 by adding Creme de Cassis to make a Kir.

About Henry

I’m a drinks writer. My day job is features editor at the Master of Malt blog. I also contribute to BBC Good Food, the Spectator and others. You can read some of my work here. I’ve done a bit of radio, given some talks and written a couple of books (Empire of Booze, The Home Bar and the forthcoming Cocktail Dictionary).
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7 Responses to I’m bored with wine

  1. I suppose you could make vatloads of beef bourguignon if you are drowning in excess reds? I am thrilled at the thought of having excess average red wine so that I can make loads of it.

  2. Henry says:

    Of all the problems to have, it’s definitely one of the best. My top tip for making Boeuf Bourguignon with dull red it to reduce the wine before cooking with it. GIves the stew an extra oomph.

  3. Indeed. Make a big batch now for when winter returns!

  4. Chaz Folkes says:

    The article in the Spectator isn’t really about wine – read the last two paragraphs for an indication of what he’s really trying to say. Regarding bad wine, sometimes it’s the people that make the drink the occasion, not the drink itself. Sharing a bottle with friends is enough in itself, even if it does sometimes taste more of winegums rather than wine…

  5. nicollecroft says:

    I live in the middle of vineyards in Fronsac, Bordeaux and I fine every day authentic wines that real people make that are delicious. Real wines, made by real people http://www.sip-wines.com

  6. Sam Jary says:

    I couldn’t agree more Henry – I’d rather drink a good British beer, a decent G&T or a nice chilled sherry as an aperitif any day than a bland, homogenised £7 supermarket wine. I guess it all comes down to price and value for money (or lack off, in the UK)… when I lived and worked in Burgundy, I don’t remember ever complaining about drinking wine!

  7. Sally says:

    Yes! And can I add to this that the choices are so narrow most of the time especially if you are out and about drinking wine by the glass. Boring, boring to drink the same old grape varieties.
    Adding a red wine reduction to the meat of a burger to bind it is fantastic too.

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