A reader of my blog about Belle Glos pinot noir (Bottle Stock, 5/28 ) hopes, he says, that “there is a screw-top underneath that wax.” There isn’t, of course, and he knows it, his irony directed at expensive packaging that reflects the not-inconsiderable price of the bottle itself.
Similarly, another reader asks, “How can you justify recommending a wine that costs, after tax, $50 a bottle?”
Well, I didn’t exactly recommend it, just commented on its power and various, quite durable flavors. And I don’t have to “justify” writing about expensive wines if they’re good, anymore than I have to justify writing about inexpensive ones. But the uncomfortable truth is that really interesting wine – as opposed to the merely drinkable – is usually pricy, if at the top end nothing short of outrageous. That doesn’t necessarily make them less interesting, just less accessible to the general populace.
The state of wine-drinking in America is as fractured these days as the country itself. Some people think nothing of spending fifty bucks a day for wine, whereas others wouldn’t dream of it even if they could afford it. So if you’re worried about the moral implications of spending on wine, remember that drinking it when it’s made by individual vintners - as opposed to the industrial sort – supports agriculture and often goes toward preserving beautiful places.
Grapes are grown in vineyards and vineyards (yes, I know, contribute to monocultures and often involve chemicals) are also preferable to housing developments and shopping malls. Wine – including the expensive sort - is also another antidote to the homogenization of culture generally and, in its small way, casts myriad shafts of light into places both costly and right under all our noses.