My First “Real” Wine

Does everyone remember their first kiss?  Their first girlfriend? Their first car?  How about your first wine?  No not Strawberry Angel or wine cooler.  I mean the first wine you bought as an adult, a wine that you actually put an effort into buying and a wine that launched your love of wine.

aaaah…I remember it well, kind of…  It was the fall of 1993. Nirvana “In Utero” had just been released…Heart Shaped Box…All Apologies (to those who aren’t following the music references)  Wow has it really been 16 years?!

I had just turned 21 and was playing in a band, working part-time as a courier, going to college part-time and generally having a good time way before blogging and twitter and really most of the internet.   The apartment was located above a bar and grill called “Lou’s” on West Broadway in Vancouver, British Columbia.  I shared an apartment with my friend Blake, the bass player, and my girlfriend.  The rest of the band and a couple of our friends lived right next door.  Good times.  We were only a 15 minute bus ride from Lollapalooza at UBC that summer. Anyways, I digress…wine.  I was in the government-run liquor store and instead of buying my usual 12 pack of malt liquor or “Old Style” Pilsner I wandered into the wine section.  After a few minutes, something caught my eye.  It was a simple label, it read:

Wyndham Estates, Bin 555, Shiraz.  I bought it, can’t remember what I paid, probably around  $20.  I was so poor that this was really a big expenditure for me and I drank the wine out of a coffee mug!  I remember it being much smoother than the home-made Portuguese wine of my teenage years.  As much as I liked it, I really didn’t buy it all that often.  Malt liquor or cheap vodka was still the best option when considering the “bang for your buck” effect.  Little did I know about actually enjoying the process, instead of just getting there as fast as possible.  Luckily my palate evolved, and I began drinking Wolf Blass Yellow Label!  Speaking of Wolf- Blass reminds me of a different story about a small airplane and free wine which I will have to write about in another post…remind me about that eh.

Okay, so fast forward to the year 2000 or so.  I just moved to Phoenix, Arizona and was in the grocery store looking at all the wines they had for sale.  However, they did not have Wyndham Estates Bin 555.  I was actually at A.J’s Fine Foods, and I couldn’t believe that a “Purveyor of Fine Foods” such as A.J.’s didn’t have this fine wine.  The wine steward asked me if I needed any help and I asked about the missing wine.  He looked it up in “the book” and it did not exist, apparently it was not even being distributed in Arizona.

And here is the kicker:  Some months later I was in Fry’s Marketplace and I saw Bin 555!  I was excited and reached for the bottle on the shelf, and then I saw the price… $6.99

WHAT?!  I was stunned!  I’ve been in love with really cheap wine all this time?  Oh No! But then I started to chuckle…the wine steward at A.J.’s had been sent on an expedition to find this young man his favorite wine and probably discovered the price and slammed his book shut in disgust.

So here is a question for anyone reading this:  Am I a wine snob now that I refuse to drink seven dollar wine? 😉



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