It’s a look wine shop clerks know well. That overwhelmed, glassy-eyed stare that afflicts people as they wade through aisle after aisle of wine in search of the right bottle to bring to a party.
But arming yourself with a little advice and doing a bit of planning can make it easy to break out of the wine shop stupor and get the right wine for the right event for the right price.
Step 1: Relax. It’s just wine. And most shops are jammed with great $10 bottles, so it’s hard to make an awful choice.
Numerous attempts at reform have been turned back by special interests intent on keeping their slice of the pie. So simply stocking Chianti and cabernet on supermarket shelves is not an option under the state’s post-Prohibition liquor laws. The liquor board has tried to be more consumer-friendly in recent years, including opening 19 full-service state stores in supermarkets. The board touts the kiosks as another step toward modernization – “an added level of convenience in today’s busy society,” liquor board Chairman Patrick Stapleton said in a statement.
Not everyone is swallowing that line. Craig Wolf, president and CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, questioned the machines’ efficacy in preventing sales to minors.
Keith Wallace, president and founder of The Wine School of Philadelphia, described the kiosks as well-intentioned failures with limited selections and overtones of Big Brother. “The process is cumbersome and assumes the worst in Pennsylvania’s wine consumers – that we are a bunch of conniving underage drunks,” Wallace wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “(Liquor board) members are clearly detached from reality if they think these machines offer any value to the consumer.”
During Superbowl season, beer and football almost seem like synonyms. But what if you or your crowd prefer wine?
Since most foods served on Superbowl Sunday – the usual array of chili, ribs, chips and dip – are salty, David Snyder, a wine instructor at the Wine School of Philadelphia, suggest high acid wines such as Champagne or sauvignon blanc.
“Champagne with potato chips goes perfectly,” he says. “High acid wine goes with salty foods because it’s going to moderate the saltiness. It’s a fantastic combination.”
But be careful when it comes to chili or ribs, especially if they’re hot and spicy. Low-acid whites, such as chardonnay, or high-tannin reds, such as cabernet sauvignon, react poorly with the heat.
“It will override the natural flavors and the food will end up tasting terrible,” Snyder says.