The term â€œeasy to drinkâ€ shouldnâ€™t be an insult. Yet you rarely, if ever, see those words on a store shelf-talker or restaurant wine list. Retailers somehow equate an uncomplicated wine as unsophisticated. As a result, we have wine experts and sommeliers forced to use arcane and sometimes INSANE words to describe a given bottle. In the documentary SOMM, Ian Cauble described a wineâ€™s smell as â€œcut garden hose and freshly opened can of tennis balls.â€ That doesnâ€™t sound like easy drinking, does it?Â
So what does â€œeasy to drinkâ€ mean, exactly? To my mind itâ€™s a wine that doesnâ€™t need to be decanted, doesnâ€™t need to be swirled in a special Riedel glass, and doesnâ€™t need to be dissected and described. It wonâ€™t tire out your palate with high alcohol and wonâ€™t be overpowering, yet wonâ€™t be a fruit bomb. (And it certainly doesnâ€™t need to paired with Wild Boar!) Easy drinkers pair best with Tuesday night take-out or Friday night pizza.Â Â They should be inexpensive but that doesnâ€™t mean cheap. Letâ€™s call it good bang-for-the-buck.Â
Possibly the best example of an easy drinking wine that got lost in a difficult wine world was Merlot. One line from a Hollywood actor and it became the most uncool of varietals. What people like about Merlot (prior to the movie â€œSidewaysâ€) was its softer than Cab character. Yet here we are, fifteen years after Paul Giamatti uttered the line "If anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving, I am NOT drinking any (expletive) Merlot!" the grape hasnâ€™t recovered. Ironically, Giamattiâ€™s character hated merlot BECAUSE it was so easy to drink.
Maybe wine scores are the problem. Critics must fall into the â€˜bigger is betterâ€™ trap after tasting 50 wines at a shot. I canâ€™t imagine a high scoring wine being described as â€œeasyâ€.Â Â Donâ€™t get me wrong, I love taking about the nuances of a first growth Bordeaux that I was saving for a special occasion. But I wouldnâ€™t put that much attention (or money) into a drink if the occasion was burgers and hot dogs on a lazy summer Saturday.Â Â
Perhaps the quintessential easy drinker is RosÃ©. For the first time in 2019 RosÃ© sales surpassed Prosecco and is fast becoming Americaâ€™s favorite wine. The heretofore summer-only varietal is inching its way into a year-round category, due largely to the container...Wine in cans! Whatâ€™s more easy drinking than that?
White wines, generally speaking, are easier to drink than reds. Not the over-oaked Chardonnays or overly herbal Sauvignon Blancs. â€œHerbalâ€ isnâ€™t a word in the easy drinking dictionary.
My own gauge for an easy drinking wine is what I call my â€œempty bottleâ€ test. If I grab the bottle for another glass only to find we finished it already...thatâ€™s an easy drinking bottle of wine. With that criteria, shouldnâ€™t all wine be easy drinking?
Here is my short list of easy drinking wines. No geography lesson, no tasting notes, just simple and delicious wines for you to try. They are all readily available and should cost between $10 and $15 dollars.
AlbariÃ±o wine (â€œalba-reen-yoâ€), TorrontÃ©s (â€œtorr-ron-tezâ€), Gargenega (â€œgar-GAN-nehgahâ€) & Vinho Verdi
Beaujolais, Barbera , Grenache
Now that you know the background and benefits of easy drinking wine, why not see for yourself? Stop by Roger Wilco Pennsauken to get your hands on the bottle of your choice today.