Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher

You can’t beat a good wine shop

It occurs to me that I should update you on my alleged experience with the Moore Bros. wine shop, where in my anti-Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board fantasy, I “visited” this past weekend to pick up a mixed case I had, in theory, asked Susan there to put together for me on my budget.
Let’s say that I opened a bottle of this Tuscan red from the stash, the first of eight reds in the box. And let’s say it was pretty great, full of bright cherry flavors, lovely roundness and perfect acidity — exactly what you want in a Tuscan red. Let’s further say that everyone drinking it was very pleasantly surprised that a wine this delicious and satisfying cost only $15.
I recently bought a $40 bottle of wine at the PA state liquor store that couldn’t begin to match this $15 Tuscan from Corzano e Paterno in deliciousness and excitement. Mind you, that could simply be a matter of my uneducated tastes. Nevertheless, I had (in theory, because it is illegal to bring wine across state lines in Pennsylvania) shared with a knowledgeable wine expert at a small independent shop what my particular tastes are — the kinds of wines I like, the kinds I don’t — given her a budget (and not a big one, either), and put myself in her hands. Result: she delivered me a wonderful, relatively inexpensive wine that made everybody very happy indeed, and which we’ll definitely buy more of.
And this is only the first red out of the box. Who knows what other surprises are there?
This, folks, is why I keep going on and on about the importance of finding a good wine shop, one staffed by knowledgeable people whom you can trust. If you are an expert in wine, you can perhaps do just fine buying from a giant wine discount warehouse. But I’m not that guy. I’m just a passionate amateur who needs help finding really good wine at a price he can afford. It is highly unlikely that I would have found this particular wine on my own. Let me say again: if you are a wine drinker like me, do a little research, and find a good wine shop like Moore Bros. in your neighborhood. Talk to them about what you like, and what you don’t like. Put yourself in their hands. You won’t be sorry. (But if you live in Pennsylvania, as I do, this exercise must remain strictly theoretical, because you wouldn’t want to transport wine across state lines.)

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posted March 9, 2010 at 4:21 pm

I find these hypotheticals increasing strained and implausible. Tell the truth, man: you bought a box of plonk from the PA store, and you’re weeping silent, bitter tears as you drink it.

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posted March 9, 2010 at 4:26 pm


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posted March 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm

We were going to NJ today for other reasons, and thus we had all the justification we needed to make a stop at Moore Bros, thanks to your recommendation. We told them we were friends of Rod and the guy seemed excited to welcome us. We looked around and ended up buying their bon marche box (12 wines for $150 + coordinated notes on each one), a bottle of port, and a sherry vinegar.
Thanks for the heads up!

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Grumpy Old Man

posted March 9, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Château Côtes du Susquehanna, resembling a “Hobart Muddy.”

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Rod Dreher

posted March 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Ha! Good for you, Joseph. This will probably be the one and only time identifying yourself as a friend of Your Working Boy will work to your advantage.

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posted March 9, 2010 at 7:43 pm

I think I’ve only paid over $40 for a bottle of wine once in my life.

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posted March 10, 2010 at 1:15 am

Speaking of Tuscany, I don’t think there is a place as glorious on earth.

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posted March 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

Your experience with State Stores is all too typical. My primary residence is in Pennsylvania but I buy all of my wine, beer and hard liquor in New Castle County, Delaware (no sales tax) and Cecil County, Maryland (sales tax but knowledgeable retailers with great selections).
That so noted, good wine does not have to cost $15 or $40 a bottle. Our tastes run to Australian merlots and blends and you can get a perfectly acceptable bottle for $10 and sometimes even less.
Note further that while your Moore Bros experience was positive, be adventurous from time to time and find wines on your own.
The one exception to the cheap-isn’t-necessarily-bad rule is Champagne. In my experience you cannot get a truly decent bottle for under $40.

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posted March 12, 2010 at 8:43 am

What about Romans 13:1-7?
And do you think your post glorifies disobedience?

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