“Life is too short to drink bad wine” as Julia Child and others have said, but that doesn’t mean ordinary wine can’t be good, and good for you. One thing we know for sure about wine & health is that its maximum benefit is in daily consumption with meals, wine as food; that’s why we need affordable everyday wines. It’s not that there haven’t been attempts to “demystify” wine, but these generally aim to simplify descriptors of what to look for, or to simplify a dauntingly complex thing. The fact remains that wine drinkers are still a minority in America, awash in a sea of great but inaccessible wines.
Wine economist and author Mike Veseth has been advocating for a wine version of the “got milk?” ad campaign, and I think it’s a great idea. Maybe something along the lines of “everyday good life with wine” or ChooseǀShareǀCare, the message of Europe’s Wine in Moderation movement. If everyone who can drink wine does so daily and in moderation, it becomes normal and healthy. If relegated to the realm of the cognoscenti it remains elitist. On the other hand if people change their habits to drink wine every day with food then affordable, decent wine is necessary. Connoisseurs will find their way to the best wines without extra help, but middle shelf wines need some love too.
A stumbling block to this effort is the inescapable fact that everyone in the wine business – vintners, distributors, critics – likely has a superior ability to taste wine* and revel in the joy that the great ones bring. Making wine for the masses seems out of phase with the emphasis on quality (and ratings), but the good news is that there is a higher standard of quality across the board now. Some inexpensive wines are very good.
I say you can live an extraordinary life without shunning vin ordinaire.
* There is evidence that professional wine critics have a specific set of taste receptor genetic variants imparting them with enhanced sensory capabilities. See my post from last February on the fascinating connection between taste receptor genetics, health, and longevity.