While at Whole Foods recently, I was looking to see if there were a juice box version of wine. Well, I was looking to see one could enjoy a glass of wine the way one can enjoy a beer.
Look at Sake, single servings. BEAUTIFUL. Simple glass, classic lines, great design, great labels, artwork - everything about it beautiful.
Wine? UGH. Or UGHly. Most likely plasticware. Most likely less than par wine. One of those single serve sake's up there is almost $300, the others between $13 and $20.
This? A four-pack is around $10. The wine must be GREAT.
But I would pay $8 for one decent wine in a well-designed container. Maybe $10.
Thus, beer it often is.
Over the course of one weekend, both of these went down. Of course the Yeti Imperial Stout is a big bit of deliciousness, but Alchemist Brewery's Heady Topper was a revelation. Partial to stouts, this IPA (difficult to get, only available in Vermont, I'm well-connected, thank you David) was too darn GOOD. I don't know enough about beer or hops or anything, really, when you get down to it. But this stuff was good above and beyond the idea of beer. It transcended beerness. That's how good it was.
I picked this stuff up at Glendale's own Topline, home of the world's worst website. Why do they have a website at all? Just GO there and when you walk in, Michael the Younger will put something in your hands with emphatic confidence that you will love it. I was really impressed by this while enjoying this because he's always been right. He knows my price range. If I've selected something on my own he'll send me to a better wine at the same price. He often says, If you want to spend a few dollars more try this one, it's so much better (which I've done, he's so emphatically convincing). I have no idea what this stuff is. Michael handed it to me, it was within my budget, and it was good.
Then one of those The Cave moments, maybe, I'm not sure, I didn't see anything.
That Thomas Hardy Ale? 1987! All these kids who've "discovered" microbrews? Some guy put this in his locker before they were born. BOOM!
It was, you know, really sublime. An ale that acquired depth and weight, like it was aged in an old bourbon barrel. Zero fizz.
The Old Crustacean, also zero fizz, also a barley wine, 1995 and brewed in Oregon, fell open for comparison sake. Science. Completely opposite the Thomas Hardy. Still bright and fruity. A really interesting study of one idea with two results.
Which brings us to this weekend. Around Wednesday, I declared, out loud, THERE WILL BE WINE THIS WEEKEND. Then Friday, the gentleman said to me, Are you up for and experiment? He went on to say there was a 60% chance this wine, a 2004, would be spent. I countered that I'm so ignorant to these sorts of things I wouldn't know the difference.
So, what do I know about wine and these matter? (Nothing.) The first night this wine was good, alive and intact but there was a sweetness to it that was separate from everything else and also dominant. The second night this had integrated. We spent six, chill, slow hours together, and the wine just got better and better, gentler, more elegant as it went along. Gorgeous.
I'm sure I've mentioned this more than once, Max and I one day talking about the few things in life, the necessary things in life, that restore us to ourselves. It is a clearly defined moment, having spent a week with my family a few years ago, and thinking towards the end there, I really just want a good glass of wine. The necessary thing that can restore a sense of civility while navigating the sometimes rocky terrain.
Minus the one plonk, these were all donations to the cause. As always, what a curious and generous Cave I inhabit. Cheers.