September 13, 2007


WOOLWORTHS GROUP PLC, the British discount retailer, has shocked the world of wine in announcing it will sell a £5 bottle of Champagne -- actual Champagne, not sparkling wine. That, according to The Telegraph, has "alarmed wine experts" (it would, wouldn't it?) and led to questions about how the company can actually manage to sell the stuff for just £5 per bottle. However, it has also received something approaching acclaim from the newspaper's wine critic, who writes: "It isn't dry enough for me, but I've had a hell of a lot worse at many times the price."

I guess we'll see how well it sells. I myself am not much of a Champagne drinker, but I do know that when I do drink it, I'm doing so on a special occasion -- and somehow, cheap Champagne wouldn't seem to fit the bill. Still, I certainly approve of the idea, particularly if it lets more people enjoy the stuff. Plus, if people want Champagne just because they want Champagne, it would *definitely* seem to fit the bill.

I myself have two minds -- well, actually three -- about the proper way to approach drinking and the drinks one buys. My general rule for wine is that one ought drink the cheap stuff on an everyday basis while saving the good bottles for special occasions. That's not to say bad wine, but rather inexpensive wine, which can be had for a few dollars per bottle if you know where to get it. Besides, not minding the regular stuff makes the good stuff so much better when you actually do drink it.

When it comes to hard liquor, though, I take a different tack. My general rule for hard liquor is to drink top-shelf stuff, but only do so sparingly. I figure it's far better to abstain than drink cheap liquor, which is usually awful. The end result is that it makes the times I do drink the hard stuff far more enjoyable. Plus, it takes a lot less to get me drunk, which means my nights out are relatively cheap.

However, while I might be willing to swill cheap wine in the privacy of my own home, I would never serve it to a guest and certainly never send it to someone I know. If you have guests over to your house, you should get out the good stuff and enjoy your company. The same goes for hard liquor: I have a bottle of Patron Añejo and a bottle of Bombay Sapphire ready to go here at Rant Headquarters the next time I have guests over. (I even had a small bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue, but I drank that with Simon From Jersey the last time he was up in the Granite State).

As for beer -- well, what can one say? There are few things in life worse than bad beer, so again, I think it's better to abstain from drinking than partake of some watered-down American pilsner. Even if the watered-down pilsner in question has a hell of an advertising campaign. The good news here, however, is that excellent beer isn't expensive at all, so it's not like one actually has to abstain from drinking. For perhaps a dollar more per bottle -- if that -- you can get an excellent and pleasing brew that is filling, substantial, and tasty. Plus, when one considers that one good beer can have the same results one would get from two or three mediocre beers, it actually works out to be cost-effective.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at September 13, 2007 10:14 PM | TrackBack
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