Wine: My Mistake

The Little Penguin Merlot 2005
Image by Alexandre Lemieux via Flickr

In many blogs people only want to write about their successes—the things that worked. I recently read a food blog in which the author refused to give the recipe for the failed frosting she made for some cupcakes. I can understand the reasons for this, but on the other hand, why not share that failed recipe with the rest of us so we are not doomed to make the same mistake? In that spirit, I am about to share one of my recent mistakes.

Yes, yes, I asked for it. It was on sale for about $3.50, but we’re trying to save money and we needed a Merlot to celebrate with. So at 10 minutes to closing time I grabbed the first, and cheapest, bottle I saw.

Well, lesson learned. Little Penguin the animal = very cute. Little Penguin Merlot = not very good. Stick with Little Black Dress next time. Little Black Dress is our merlot of choice and is typically around $10. We’ve gotten away with cheap white wine before—it was called Broke Ass White and was actually pretty good—so I figured, why not try a cheap merlot? I found out why you don’t do that.

We only drank a couple glasses of the Little Penguin before we decided it was only good enough for cooking with. My father-in-law had recently given me some Penzeys Mulling Spices which came with a recipe for spiced wine. We figured why not?

The reason not to do this would be that we started with a $3.50 bottle of bad wine. Crap in, crap out. Our experiment failed and if I try the spiced wine again I will be using a better quality wine.


On the subject of wine, but having nothing to do with failed experiments, cheap wine or mulling spices, NY Times author Eric Asimov wrote a compelling article called “Wine in Two Words” that breaks down describing wine into two easy categories: sweet and savory.

These two simple words suggest the basic divide of all wines, the two grand categories that explain more about the essence of any bottle than the most florid, detailed analogies ever could. Just as important, thinking of wine in this more streamlined fashion is an efficient method for clarifying your own preferences.

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