I've been struggling lately with this question: What is wine and what is good wine? That's two questions, I guess. Well, part of it is the context. Part of the reason I wanted to write this column in the first place was because I was so sick of wine writing in general... it just seems so isolationist and elitist. I wanted to write this column to you. I wanted to take this Luxury Good out of the luxury goods context and put it where it belongs... as part of your fucking life, in a very real, everyday sense of the word EVERYDAY! Contexts for wine—there are a lot of them: celebratory, contemplative, educational, accompanying food, or not... a glass... a bottle, a box, several! This column is about the 1:30 a.m. context, when the bars are about to give last call and you're fucked up and you're leaving the club... or you're at a party and you've drunk all the shit you brought and you've drunk through all the shit that was in your friends' fridge... but it's not over yet, you've got 20 bucks in your pocket... and you're out of smokes, too! What's a girl to do?
Hurry... you only have until two! The mini-mart is still open because they're smart and it's a good time to take advantage of all you drunk fucks. Sure, that's a convenient way to go... pick up a six or two of some shit beer and some smokes and head back to the house and continue down the hole. Or head to your 24-hour grocery store. I know the lights are bright, I know there are about 30 aisles to navigate, but persevere, and there you are, at the Safeway or the QFC in the wine aisle, surrounded by a bevy of young wines... all juicy, all fruit finger-licking good, and... it doesn't matter, really. Just pick up something that fits the budget! Columbia Crest Grand Estates Syrah, Columbia Valley 2011 is a great wine for your buck and for this time of night. It's 13.5 percent alcohol. It's fruity but bright, not too heavy or over-oaked... I drank it with dinner tonight and I liked it. It's cheap!
No matter that the wine is produced in a facility that resembles a tank farm more than a winery. Do you think that $9.99 bottle of Côtes du Rhône you picked up at your local co-op comes from vats in cellars deep beneath the streets of some medieval village in the Rhone Valley? Well, it might. But more likely it comes from a place just as ungrand as Columbia Crest's "Grand Estates." Context!