The Walmart Sommelier

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  • 5 min read

WARNING: Wine Snobbery oozes from this particular posting like goo from a 15-year-old’s pores after a two-week Proactive withdrawal. My apologies in advance. I will fully confess my Wine Snob sins in a later post, but for now, I simply lay my faults on your table for your voyeuristic entertainment.

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…to which I replied that he could always score some Everclear and grape Kool-Aid and may end up with the same results.

I’m actually quite flattered when my friends turn to me for wine advice, and though I don’t want to sound like a dick when I’m dispensing said advice, I usually do. In all honesty, I think it’s a defense mechanism for my lack of knowledge of the wine world. Yes, wine has been my life’s passion, and yes I’ve been working in Napa for several years, but you should see some of the people I work with. Master Sommeliers, WSET Certified Educators, life-long winemakers…ask one of them for “something different than Chardonnay” and watch your mind melt out of your eye sockets.

That said, in 2014, only 5% of the U.S. wine buying population purchased a wine over $20 bucks. Most of my friends are the 95%. They do not work at a winery, they didn’t take the WSET Level 1 nor did they get their Sommelier Certification. WTF, right? They’re working parents, so the decision they face every day is whether or not to start dinner or hurdle themselves out a thirty-story window. Wine plays a critical role in the choice of the former over the latter. So who am I to refuse the call? When I hear the ding! of a text for help on my 14.5% Alcohol By Volume Suicide Prevention Hotline, I’m there to talk you off the edge. Just don’t be surprised to get a ration of Wine Snobby BS along the way. But hey, I’m working on it. If you want it to stop faster, buy a dozen T-shirts so I can see my therapist more.

Texting your buddy JT to help you choose the magic elixir that keeps you from being an organ donor one more day pairs with: Actually, I’m going to give you four recommendations – two reds, two whites, and the freaking silver bullet of all excellent wine choices. These are all wines that should be readily available in your local supermarket, no matter where you live, all of which are under $20.

Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. I’ll give you this: SMPG used to cost a lot less and was slightly better in quality in past years, but it’s still the go-to, readily-available alternative white in my book.

La Crema Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast. For those who let their Freak Flag Fly and don’t jump on the “Anything But Chardonnay” bandwagon, go with the La Crema. I prefer the Sonoma Coast style over Napa because my personal nightmares are all about being beaten with a buttered-up, oak baseball bat while I’m eating a vanilla bean. Hey, I told you I need therapy.

Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection. Pretty much anything from the Diamond Collection works great. Coppola understands implicitly the need for and tradition of a table wine, and it’s reflected in the quality here. And that scene from Apocalypse Now where Colonel Kurtz has the decapitated head in one hand and a bottle of Coppola Pinot in the other has to be the greatest product placement of all time.

Acacia, Carneros, Pinot Noir. I was a little tentative at first on this one based on whether it was available outside California, but Acacia really seems to have wide distribution. I’m a big fan of Carneros Pinot, and you’d be hard pressed to find another Napa-appellated Pinot for under $20.


Alright, I promised you the Silver Bullet Selection and here it is: Rose. Yes, the pink wine and no, it’s not White Zinfandel. (Look, I’m not going to bag on White Zinfandel. I respect it the same way I respect German Scheisse porn: I’m not into it myself, but someone recognized there was an audience for it so someone invented it). Rose is light and vibrant and subtle and not at all sweet. There’s a wide selection of it and you can find great ones for under $10. It pairs with every food imaginable and is available in a plethora of varietals throughout the spring and summer. Best of all, it answers the eternal question “red or white?” by wisely choosing “both.”

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