I've been thinking a lot lately about how much wine is romanticized. It is discussed at length (ahem, this blog included), people argue about it, feel intimidated by other's knowledge, and certainly spend a lifetime exploring, collecting, and tasting. And yet in the end the vast majority of our interaction with wine is really sculpted by business, by money. The Sancerre that you get at your favorite restaurant is probably not on the menu because it is the best Sancerre the restaurant could find. No, it is probably on the menu because it is available in an appropriate quantity in your market, allows the restaurant to make a decent margin on its mark up, and then because the beverage director thought it had a certain quality to it.
The wines that are available at your supermarket did not get there simply because of a dream, or outstanding farming. Somewhere along their route a business person made some good decisions about where to invest in vineyards or bulk juice, how to maximize the barrel rotation, how to minimize labor costs. These are the decisions that drove the bottle to your hands, in many cases.
This is not to say that there are not thousands of labels out there that hold wine made with care, with thought, brimming with terroir and true stories of people leaving their day jobs in pursuit of the dream. I am not saying that the $10 malbec that is widely available in Akron is not good or worthy either. I am just trying to be more realistic in recognizing that there is a huge trade and commerce aspect to what we drink, it is not all fresh dirt and beautiful rows of carefully selected clones.
So why even bring up such a seemingly cynical statement? Because it is a reminder to me that getting way too serious about wine is a waste of time. It is ultimately a beverage, a moneymaker, and something we should have fun with. Drink what you like, pay what you feel comfortable, and don't allow others to intimidate you. Wine can be cerebral, it can be romantic, the nuances are the appeal for many, and yet the need to move a case from producer to consumer efficiently remains. Relax and incorporate wine into your life in ways that makes sense to you. There is not really a right and wrong when it gets to the end of the chain (that's you), and I hope to remember that regularly on this blog.