Started from the Bottom (Shelf), Now We’re Here: How Your Taste In Alcohol Has Evolved


I spent years in college not realizing there was alcohol available at my eye level. When I walked through the wine aisle, I instinctively started scanning the ground like I was a human Zamboni. After graduation, when I started getting a paycheck, I felt entitled to a more sophisticated selection. My palate had advanced to the $8.99 varietals. In my mind I was a sommelier, but in my heart I was still a bottom-feeder.

I pretended to notice the difference in texture and the subtle taste of authentic cork. I acted like I could differentiate between steel and oak barrels. I even once caught myself saying “the peppery aftertaste.” I continued to snob along, pursuing the finer things in life. But more than anything, I just wanted to revisit my old friends, Mr. Yellowtail and Mrs. Barefoot. The three of us experienced so much life together and I felt their disappointed gaze on me every time I opted for their spoiled cousin, Ms. Apothic Red. I was to the mid-tier shelves as Ryan Atwood was to Newport Beach. I didn’t quite fit in, but I tried.

Was it difficult? Of course it was. This betrayal was worse than the “When She Loved Me” montage in “Toy Story 2.” My new adult life no longer meshed with the red blends for $3.99–or so I thought. My refined palate was put to the test one Friday evening. I was walking through Trader Joe’s when Charles Shaw caught my eye. It was like seeing an old friend and picking up exactly where we left off. I began to realize the inauthentic nature of my ways as I reconnected with my roots.

I now proudly proclaim that I am bottom shelf wine connoisseur. I toss tannins to the wind and pour my plastic-corked bottle with confidence. I like to think that Tami Taylor enjoyed Yellowtail, and that connection keeps me going. It wasn’t fair for me to lie to myself. Now that my purchases align with my core values, I am able to live a fully realized, flat-broke, postgrad life.

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Brown rice. Black beans. Barbacoa. Both Salsas. Corn. Cheese. Guac. Lettuce.

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