I want to level with you guys. I haven’t always been a wino. In fact, I went through all four years of college absolutely hating Jesus Juice. And before you ask – yes, I did regularly chug Sunset Blush Franzia out of the bag, putting my mouth on the same nozzle as 50+ other disgusting adolescents, and slapping it with abandon. But the truth is, I hated every second of it.
Drinking wine has become a hobby of mine within the past two years. I only refer to it as a “hobby” because of that one time I went to Barnes and Noble and actually purchased a few books on the history of wine and wine pairings. This only occurred because I could finally afford decent wine for the first time in my life upon getting a job after undergrad. Unfortunately, big trees fall hard, and reality has brought me back down to earth. I’ve entered law school, and guess what? I’m living as a plebeian, yet again.
You know what nobody tells you when you turn 21 years old? Just how expensive alcohol is. Nobody pulls you aside and says, “Hey youngblood, alcohol is disturbingly expensive. You will spend probably 50% or more of your future moneys on this poison. Have fun, and may God have mercy on your soul.” Somehow, that part gets left out.
What am I to do? I’ll tell you what I’m not going to do, and that is to quit drinking wine altogether. To be quite honest, alcohol is the only thing getting my classmates and I through this first year of law school. It’s a disturbing thought, but I have actually uttered the words, “I would rather starve than be sober,” to my own mother. I’m sorry, mom.
So, I’ve come up with a plan. I’m still going to get wine-drunk… but I’m going to do it on a peasant-budget which I’m sure everyone can relate to.
The wine aisle is my Mecca. Every time I enter the liquor store, the guys at the front always say, “Good to see you again, do you need any help finding something?”
No, dude. No. I don’t need any help. I need you guys to leave me alone and let me prowl up and down the aisles alone, in peace. Let me roll these bottles around to find the price tag. Let me eliminate the ones out of my price range, and let me read those mini-descriptions and scores posted under each one. I’m talking $20 or less, and the “or less” is preferable.
In my honest (and uninformed) opinion, wine-drunk is the best drunk. Beer is cool and all, but it makes me feel about 25 pounds heavier by the end of the night. Vodka sodas are my other go-to, but those are completely unpredictable. Some nights I wind up being sent home in an Uber by 10:30 p.m., and other nights I just end up barfing in a sketchy bar bathroom and returning to the dance floor at last call with my double vodka soda in hand, screaming, “Woo!” Real classy.
Wine, though. That sweet nectar is predictable. It’s also delicious. At the end of a long week, that is what I want to return home to. (Human contact would be preferable, but sometimes that is just not accessible.)
According to my random and probably unreliable Twitter poll, most of us (AKA: my Twitter followers) are only willing to spend a max of $20 on a bottle of wine. I’ll be honest, that’s also where I feel most comfortable. But what are our options?
Wine aisles are disorienting. They’re confusing. Overwhelming. They’re downright uncomfortable if you go in there tipsy because you and your roommate ran out of wine already, and somebody had to leave the house to go buy another bottle. Those are tough decisions. Stressful decisions. Lucky for you, I’m here to fix that. I’m going to drink random bottles of cheap wine, ranging from shitty to not-so-shitty, and I’m going to review them for you. Just straight up tell you whether they’re worth their salt or not. I won’t be speaking in a pretentious way, or in a way that uses professional sommelier jargon. I’m talking layman’s terms, and I’m going to be quite candid.
Tonight, we are looking at H3 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, also called Horse Heaven Hills. It is produced by Columbia Crest, and was apparently “created to celebrate the winery’s rich heritage,” whatever the fuck that means. I’ll be straight up, this one is literally maxing out on my usual price range, weighing in at $15.99, plus tax. The first time I tried this was when my roommate’s mother bought a bottle and left it at our house. It’s good as shit.
Let me preface this with a disclaimer: I’m a classic red wine person. I’m usually somewhere between a Malbec and a Cabernet Sauvignon. I don’t discriminate, though, and I’m gonna be giving the white wines a shot, too.
This particular bottle is hella tasty. I’m talking, like, “I don’t even have to pregame this bottle with another one,” kind of good. It’s something you buy when you and your Bumble are on that third date, you’ve agreed to cook dinner at your studio apartment, and somebody will probably be rounding third base later. Will your teeth be stained bright purple? Shit, yes. But the other person probably won’t notice because they are so impressed by your adult choice in delicious wine. It’s good, and it tastes more expensive than it really is. I’m just here to tell you that real adults drink it, too, so maybe you should give it a shot. Peel the price sticker off and convince that Bumble date you make $10k a year more than you really do. Pour it in a decanter if you’re a real player.
The winery describes this thing as delivering “aromas of dark fruits.” I’m sorry, but what the hell does that even mean? Are we talking plums? Grapes? I mean, obviously grapes, that’s what this stuff is made out of. What about purple carrots? Eggplants? Red cabbage? I’m gonna go ahead and say that this one is particularly ambiguous in its description.
It also boasts “currants with a balance of earthy (does that mean dirt or grass?) and deep berry flavors (okay, so blueberry and blackberry, probably) with a cocoa finish.”
I can tell you that this wine does not taste like chocolate in the slightest. There’s nothing wrong with that, but honestly, it’s obvious that they are trying to use some buzzword adjectives, and chocolate is just not a real thing, here.
The first glass was delicious, definitely toast-worthy. That is the most important part- maybe the only part you should care about. Drink at room temp (honestly I prefer even a little warmer than that.) It’s definitely a little heavy for a red, (cabs always are) and gives you a coated/fuzzy mouth feeling. It’s not like sipping on a pinot noir, and it leaves an aftertaste. It’s not a bad one, but you know you’re drinking a heartier wine. Would probably go well with steak, porkchops, maybe even the pigs-in-a-blanket that I ate for dinner in my underpants while lying on the couch and watching Heavyweights. Leftover 2 a.m. Chipotle would probably work, too.
Honestly, by the time I got to the fourth glass, it all tasted pretty delicious. Right now, I’m at a really comfortable level of drunk, listening to weird shit like STRFKR and Glass Animals. With a 14.5% alcohol by volume… at this point, I’m just sad that it’s gone.
Score: 8/10. You get what you pay for. If you really want to impress someone, or try your best at getting into their pants (consensually, duh), this really isn’t the worst move you could make. Would purchase again. Will purchase again. Might go purchase again tonight. What even is a decanter? .
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