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.