Don't Overthink It, Just Drink It: The Case for Easy Drinking Wine

Don't Overthink It, Just Drink It: The Case for Easy Drinking Wine

Jimmy QuaileSeptember 18, 2019

The term “easy to drink” shouldn’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 wine’s smell as “cut garden hose and freshly opened can of tennis balls.” That doesn’t sound like easy drinking, does it? 

So what does “easy to drink” mean, exactly? To my mind it’s a wine that doesn’t need to be decanted, doesn’t need to be swirled in a special Riedel glass, and doesn’t need to be dissected and described. It won’t tire out your palate with high alcohol and won’t be overpowering, yet won’t be a fruit bomb. (And it certainly doesn’t need to paired with Wild Boar!) Easy drinkers pair best with Tuesday night take-out or Friday night pizza.  They should be inexpensive but that doesn’t mean cheap. Let’s call it good bang-for-the-buck. 

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 “Sideways”) 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 hasn’t recovered. Ironically, Giamatti’s character hated merlot BECAUSE it was so easy to drink.

Maybe wine scores are the problem. Critics must fall into the ‘bigger is better’ trap after tasting 50 wines at a shot. I can’t imagine a high scoring wine being described as “easy”.  Don’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 wouldn’t put that much attention (or money) into a drink if the occasion was burgers and hot dogs on a lazy summer Saturday.  

Perhaps the quintessential easy drinker is Rosé. For the first time in 2019 Rosé sales surpassed Prosecco and is fast becoming America’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! What’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. “Herbal” isn’t a word in the easy drinking dictionary. 

My own gauge for an easy drinking wine is what I call my “empty bottle” test. If I grab the bottle for another glass only to find we finished it already...that’s an easy drinking bottle of wine. With that criteria, shouldn’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. 

Whites

Albariño wine (“alba-reen-yo”), Torrontés (“torr-ron-tez”), Gargenega (“gar-GAN-nehgah”) & Vinho Verdi 

Reds

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.