The thing about buying wine is that you’re not drunk yet when you’re doing it. This makes it rather difficult to grab whatever rot gut is cheapest and go on your merry way because your unaddled brain allows reason to cloud your judgment: “If this bottle is only $2.95,” you say to yourself, “there’s a good likelihood it contains something I would rather not drink, like antifreeze. Or goat urine.”
A $4.99 bottle might only contain rat hair or cockroach antennae, you reason, not as bad as the cheaper bottle, but still not pleasant. You continue reasoning on up the price scale: $6.99 probably just has dirt in it, $8.99 might be reasonably poison free but it’s probably made from something other than grapes, $10.99 must taste like gym socks, etc.
On up the pricing scale you go, until you are left with a wine from some unpronounceable French maison in the most expensive Appellation of France. And you can’t afford to buy that. So you leave, empty handed.
This is the problem I constantly run into while shopping, sober, at my little wine store on U Street next to The Ellington. They have a whole array of seemingly good wines at low prices all of which I’m scared to buy because of my unreasonable fear of blindness or hair loss or premature death.
There’s only one obvious solution to this problem, but it takes quite a bit of planning on my part. First, I must keep a half finished bottle of wine on hand in our apartment, a cheap bottle I purchased previously. I call this my “priming” bottle. Since I drank half of it before with no ill effects (except, of course, drunkenness), I know it’s safe to drink. So I polish off that bottle. But I must open a second bottle, because such habits indulged in frequently quickly build up mighty tolerances. I drink off half of that bottle, and then, thoroughly sloshed, I’m adequately prepared to go wine shopping. Off I go to my wine store, buying anything I want, because my reasoning now goes like this: “they don’t know whadahell they’re doing in this-here store, they got all the prices screwed hic! screwed hic! screwed hic! wrong. Mustuv left off some zeroes or somethin’.” In my inebriation, the inexpensive bottles seem quite the deal! You might be thinking to yourself that the opposite might be true, as well, that I could just as easily buy an expensive bottle using the same reasoning, but I’ve found this not to be an issue. Even drunk, I’m still a cheap bastard. And so I buy another bottle, take it home, set out a couple glasses, and pass out.
When I again decide to buy wine, I have waiting for me my half-full “priming” bottle and a second full bottle, and the circle is complete. I must admit, it’s not everyone’s idea of a good time, and it’s not even my idea of a good time, but it beats the hell out of drinking goat urine. Or, at least I think.