It all began with a kind memory of an old tv commercial.
This is the memory:
Imagine a funny bunny of man dressed in a casual white suit in a decidedly European–in fact, Italian cut. He wears a dapper white hat with a wide brim. In my mind there’s a jaunty little feather sticking out of the hatband.
He’s VERY ethnically Italian, out of central casting for La Dolce Vita. He has a trim moustache and eyes that smile. He moves through a party with a little bit of nervous energy like the White Rabbit from Alice. Every step he takes turns the heads of a tall, sexy, strikingly beautiful, women who wave to him in front of their dates and lovers and call his name with affection. “Aldo.”
Here’s the audio.
With the original context for the link:
70s TV for Grown-Ups
I’m NOT a wine person. I’m not much of a beer person either. My brother gave me a bottle of Ouzo for my 21st Birthday. And I’ve migrated to Sambuca these days. I’m too cheap for single malts. And Sambuca is 90 proof.
But I wanted to try some Cella Lambrusco because it’s gotten a couple of interesting reviews on the web. First off, that it gets ANY reviews is amazing. It’s not THAT kind of wine. Does Coke get any reviews? Do you expect COKE to get any reviews. I think the reviews boil down to “it’s fun and it’s drinkable.”
But I can’t find it. I’m not even all that sure where to look so I tried the local supermarkets. I’m guessing a wine store is probably NOT the right direction because Cella Lambrusco goes for under 5 bucks a bottle.
Still couldn’t find it. It’s still imported but…
Okay, I had an epiphany in the wine aisles. I’d always been kind of aware of this but it really sank in. Wine is big business. There are more wine brands (and possibly flavors) than soft drinks.
I brought all this up to my girlfriend F—–. She a few years older than me and a bit of an ex-hippy. Not quite a full hippy. She was too young.
“Chill a Cella??” she said. “I forgot all about that. You forgot about ‘Spañada!’”
That sent me to google to research that one. That inspired some interesting results but the main thing I figured out from the wine aisles is that the context for drinking wine has changed. The entire American wine aesthetic has changed. There seems to be a few competing (and possibly NOT mutually exclusive) camps.
The first is: one’s CHOICE of wine demonstrates one’s social status.
The second is: wine is about taste.
The third is: wine should get you buzzed.
There’s a forth related zone to all this. As of now I call it the middle class wine compromise. That goal is to find a “drinkable” wine at the lowest price. All of that negative branding is sidestepped by saying “drinkable and affordable” which might have the ultra wine snobs label it, “cheap”
I don’t think snobbery was always the case. Spañada, Ripple, Boones Farm, Andre, and Cella are good examples that it wasn’t. And then there was college… well, if wine didn’t come in a box or bag you were living in unconscionable extravagance. And you weren’t sharing either.
So we’ve become a nation of wine snobs. It’s not really true. There are too many brands for too many tastes. There are entry wines, boutiques, and enough choices to make me wonder if a lot of them are just plain scams in the framework of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Except people don’t actually have to lie or be delusional. People only have to be educated and BELIEVE what wines are drinkable.
And when nobody’s looking they’ll have a glass or three of a wine they like. A guilty pleasure. Something they personally find “drinkable” possibly affordable, and if nobody is looking…. well cheap.
Allright, my little wine research turned up something I didn’t know. Ernest and Julio Gallo is the largest wine company in the world. They win awards for their wines. In my mind they are “branded” (in all senses of the word) as a cheap wine producer. They are not a little boutique vintner. They make a lot of different wines for a lot of different tastes. But I didn’t know how diverse they were.
Now I do: