Farewell to TJ’s Etc.
When I turned 28 in October, I resolved to stop buying shitty wine. Sure, I’d had some good wine at restaurants around town (I tried Fiction Red in like 2014 and felt really good about myself), but I habitually bought wine at Trader Joe’s or my local liquor store whose wine selection consisted of generic, mass-produced reds and whites (I don’t even think they had a rosé or sparkling wine in sight). Before you call me a snob, let me explain that I don’t care where you buy your wine. It’s America, drink what you want! But if you’re buying at TJ’s or a liquor store (unless they specialize in wine) it is super hard to find quality wine at a decent price point.
So I found a local wine shop, Underdog, that I started stopping into every week or so for a bottle. But I won’t lie, I supplemented with the shitty stuff, more out of my own anxiety than anything else. I was worried that the wine shop staff would berate me for not knowing how to pronounce “Viognier” (Vee-og-ner?) or not knowing that Valdiguié was a red (¯\_(ツ)_/¯).
However, it was after a particularly bad bottle of red that I had in November (all I could think was “THIS TASTES LIKE FAKE OAK BULLSHIT” all caps, cause I was mad) that I truly committed to never again buying from a grocery store/crappy liquor store. The next day I walked into Underdog and purchased the Fableist Merlot at the advice of one of the staff. I didn’t even think I liked merlot, I thought that was like an old person thing from the nineties. I tried it and immediately wrote a PSA on my Instagram about the pros of buying from a wine shop (pro: you can find stuff just as affordable as at the liquor store! Pro: it probably won’t taste like shit!)
All of this to say, It’s been quite a long time since I purchased a wine anywhere besides a wine shop and I’m never looking back! As a bonus, I’ve gotten to meet a few of my favorite winemakers or the people who work with those winemakers (Field Recordings! Jenny & Francois!) and have gotten to try some new, amazing stuff just for being a loyal customer.
I am six months into my wine journey and I am basically a wine shop evangelist. I’ll just admit that up front. Also, I don’t claim to know a lot about wine-- I’m not a sommelier or a wine writer; I just love wine. This is a space where I’ll write weekly about the wines I’ve been drinking and loving. You’ll notice an emphasis on smaller winemakers and low-intervention wines, because these just happen to be what I dig. Also, most of what I’ll feature will be well under $30 and I’ll let you know if I spring for something pricier. Please let me know if you have any recommendations, qualms or critiques. But if the criticism is too harsh, I might need a drink first.