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What’s for dinner? A grilled, spiced pork chop.

I want wine. I search the wine rack and pull out a ‘suspect” cabernet from Central California. Now I can’t possibly like this wine. It’s going to be flabby, not taste like cab, no balance, no fruit or too much fruit. It’s going to be jammy. There won’t be any depth or meaningful seconed notes – or mid-palate if you prefer – to discern. The finish will be like water or if lucky maybe bitter.

437479-Royalty-Free-RF-Clip-Art-Illustration-Of-A-Cartoon-Male-Wine-TasterI can’t possibly like this wine and it’s going to be just awful because, you ask? This wine was not one of my $50 or $100 bottles.

Recently a number of wine bloggers had this nice little circle confab (blushes) that certainly summed it all up. “There is no such thing as great wines under $20.” Now, I’m not prepared to argue that particular premise. Those who take themselves and their wine writing way too seriously slugged it out.

While in California for 11 days in July, I tasted stunning Cab at Daou Vineyards atop a mountain in Paso Robles – $85 for the best bottle Then just a few days later I tasted Pride Mountain Cabs which retail at $90 and $135. I sipped Cab and Insigina at the icon Joselph Phelps winery – those bottles SRP at $65 and $250.

man-sniffing-wine copyI was lucky to get into Stags Leap where I tasted killer $85 Cab. Thanks to a good friend in the wine business, I got into Spottswoode Winery in St. Helena, where they only can take 60 visitors a week, and tasted its $70 and $150 Cabernet.

Now, I admit those were GREAT wines. Those were all really great wines.

But not everyone can afford those wines. And, I’d argue, many palates are not ready to appreciate those wines unless you’re really a big wine drinker.

So you wander to the wine shop, liquor or grocery store and try to find something you might like and can afford. That scenario is why I started the wine writing nearly seven years ago.

Yes, I bought a few bottles of high-end Cabernet to tuck away for a special event, retirement, or for some future self-indulgence. I’m a lucky guy.

But on Thursday nights at home with my grill, a pork chop and empty glass. I open wines which just aren’t supposed to be all that good if you listen to some writers.


clayhouseMy $14 bottle of Cabernet tonight is NOT a great wine. But it is a good wine. First, my bottle of Clayhouse 2012 Estate Vineyard Cabernet tastes like Cabernet! (They all don’t, trust me.) Second, the fruit is not a mouthful of jam. Third, it’s an easy drinker. Fourth, it’s not very complex – but I’m pretty superficial guy anyway.

It’s tasty. It’s easy to drink. Ready? It’s suggested retail price is $14. I’ve certainly tasted worse Cabernet at higher prices. Clayhouse is widely distributed and a pretty consistent value wine maker.

“Drink what you like” and, perhaps “Drink what you can afford” remains the best wine advice I or anyone can ever give you!