Glass Warfare

Source: Groupon

The polarization out there just never ends, does it? Blue states/red states, global warming, gun control, Affordable Care Act, etc. On any given day I’m either laser-focused on some of these issues, or I’m figuratively wearing blinders and earplugs to ignore the madness. One needs to find a healthy balance especially as another election season approaches.

So what better way to cope sometimes than with a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. After all, you’re in the safe environment of your own home, a place where common ground and mutual acceptance of all views is guaranteed, right?

Well… yes and no. At least in my house. Wine can be one of those hot-button issues in our abode that creates its own unique kind of polarization. As with many political struggles, it becomes a battle for purity; a fight for one’s own belief system and values.

Of  course, a less pompous way of explaining this is to simply say “marriage” and be done with it.

At one extreme stands my lovely wife, holding a wine glass containing a pinot noir produced at a small, craft Willamette Valley winery. At the opposite end is me, clutching a spreadsheet in one hand and a glass of middle-shelf cabernet sauvignon in the other.

It’s not a sexy look being the bean counter.

Source: Clker

We are engaging in our own version of a first-world class struggle; a relative quiet war as conflicts go. In fact after a few swallows it barely feels like there’s even any acrimony. Under the surface, however, lies a breach that we haven’t yet filled during the previous five years.

It’s wine shop vs. supermarket, top-shelf vs. lower-shelf, bottle vs. box, etc. On a really challenging day it can even be cork vs. screw cap (sorry, Aussies and Kiwis: between me and thee, though, you folks are actually right about that particular argument).

If taste is subjective, I argue that so is cost. We can yin-and-yang this till the cows come home (or should that be “grapes dying on a vine?”), but I swear in a previous life my taste buds once belonged to a bookkeeper. I can’t enjoy something if I’m feeling self-conscious about whether it was too expensive.

Well, that’s not completely true. I bet I can taste notes of tobacco and pepper, or smell terroir aromas, when it’s a bottle of wine from your cellar. I’m a wonderful guest; invite me over and I’ll prove it!

At the moment for me, all of this goes to the essence of the early retirement experience: enjoy your life and the newly found freedom, but at the same time stay within a spending plan and budget. Those extracurricular consumptions of my salaried years are now a (mostly) happy remembrance. I hold them close but not too close. Each trip to the store’s wine section is a search for that illusive needle which also happens to be bargained priced.

I’m sure there’s a treasure way down here somewhere…”

For Gorgeous on the other hand, purity is central to her belief system. A cook and baker of notable skill and knowledge, she insists it doesn’t matter whether it’s coffee, olive oil, flour, farmed vs. wild, etc., the final result must be better tasting, better for you, and made with the finest ingredients possible. She will abstain from consuming rather than having to ingest anything inferior.

Browsing the wine offerings at the store becomes a test of wills between us; each one pulling bottles from our respective price categories and ignoring what the other is selecting. One comical result is that we later suffer from mild aches and pains in different areas: her neck hurts from looking up at the higher shelves, and I’ll get lower back pain from stooping to the lower ones.

Our conversational interactions never vary much from shopping visit to shopping visit:

“This Sonoma syrah looks good.”

“It’s $31. That’s a lot of money. How about this $8.00 one instead?”

“No. And anyway I’m not familiar with wine made in Alabama.” 

“Hmm. Really? I could have sworn it said Alsace.”

Ultimately we end up buying her choices because in fact she pays for the groceries under our budget. But I’ll usually slip out on my own and pick up the odd bottle or two, and so in the end we always have a mix of “hers” and “mine.” It’s probably not too difficult figuring out which ones are the last to be consumed.

Standing tall in the wine aisle

Where all bets are off is when we visit an actual wine store or gourmet food market. That’s when I wave the white flag and spend most of my time around the free sampling tables. She’s in Eden; I’m nervously subtracting years from my future RMD’s.

Within a very short few years I will no longer use the “early” preface to describe my retirement. Additional liquidity from the start of 401(k) distributions, followed later by Social Security payments after my full retirement age, should, at least in theory, allow this boy to stop being so miserly. In the meantime, I’m satisfied consuming from my own “popularly priced” selections.

But please, don’t be afraid to come for a visit. I promise we’ll only serve you what Gorgeous bought. I’m a generous host.

Until next time…



44 thoughts on “Glass Warfare

  1. You would love it here a decent cab sav, full of fruit and vanilla for 2 need to move to France, that’s the next step! ❤️ I love a cab sav, & you can get a lovely mousse, whichis like prosecco fir 1.50€ ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t drink wine. (That’s the good and bad news.) Our disagreements initially were more about toilet paper and paper towels. Also my husband buys generic drugs and I’m a brand name girl all the way. I tend to be more thrifty in other ways, like coupons which he has no interest in. When it comes to organic food it’s painful. Fortunately over the years the cost has come down some. I can get most organic vegetables for just slightly more rather than double the price.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m the wine drinker in our household. (If and when I feel compelled – lately I’m not taking part in happy hour. It just goes to my hips.)

    And hubby is the bean counter. Or, more precisely, the silent yet alert bystander, urging me to patronize one of those make-your-own plonk stores.

    Which I have done. The results are definitely cheaper, and one enjoys a pleasant buzz. But one then has easy access to a *perceived* endless supply and one tends to enjoy perhaps more than one ought to. You know what happens then, right? See the comment about the hips, above.

    When I buy from the liquor store, it’s from the cheap shelf. My go-to is Rib Shack Red.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooooh, Maggie, you have allowed me to comment on the one important “ingredient,” as it were, to wine consumption (well, really all alcohol) that I didn’t dare mention in the post: said hip growth. The unspoken — until now, of course — is that when my wife buys that expensive wine, her portions are always minimal because of a concern for the waistline. They say you can just put the corked bottle back in the fridge, and we do follow that each evening, but my connoisseur other half always can tell when a bottle is past its date — usually within two days of opening. So, ahem, I always seem to finish those bottles on my own. I feel safer to say that here in the comments. 🙂

      I’ve seen those do-it-yourself places, but have never sampled the results. I think when we lived in Portland (OR) they had quite a few available.

      Ah, yes, Rib Shack Red. Never had it, but I have enjoyed it many times, if you catch my drift. Cheers!


  4. So many topics here in this one post. I like wine and I like fruity which means I’m usually on the low end of the cost spectrum, and I’m not swayed by who, what, when or where it was produced. You mentioned coffee, and there is my item that I choose the best and pay the fee. Living in NH, politics have ramped up to full speed ahead, and I avoid it at all costs otherwise I’ll need a new item in the budget for mental health counseling. Living within retirement earnings is a topic that could be spread over a couple of posts. 🙂 Nice photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not as productive on the blog as I should be lately, so I’m cramming it all in one post apparently, Judy! 🙂 Coffee is a whole other topic completely, I agree. I can be satisfied pulling into a 7-11 to get my caffeine jolt, but that will only bring on a Bronx cheer if I’m with Gorgeous. So I save that for when I’m alone. I’m determined to get through this next election somehow… oh, well, with enough wine, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not s drinker and I’ve never been able to get a glass of wine past my nose…but I have heard of Ripple.
    And…stupe-nagle that I am…
    Maggot face used to get these 6 or 7 hundred bottles of wine for Christmas from all those hoity-toities. Along about January, I figured they were a bit old, so I poured them down the sink. Umm…was that wrong? 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Shoot! I wasn’t fretting. I once poured out a $650.00 bottle of Armagnac. Thought it was old, too. Maggot face had a little problem with that. LOL.
        I also threw out several pounds of…what’s that deer meat called? Anyway, I figured after a few weeks in the freezer…it was rotten.
        (I was such a good wife.). Bwahahahaha!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. We have a mixture of high- and low-end wine here. Over the years, I’ve gone from preferring whites, to reds, then back to whites. In that journey, I’ve learned that cheap whites are way better than cheap reds. I’ll spend the money on a good bottle of wine now and then, but it’s hard to fork over $30+ (and that’s on the low-end of high-end wines) on a bottle that will be gone in a day or two once opened. I never thought that my recent lower back pain could be caused by wine shopping… but now you have me wondering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Janis. I completely agree with you on the amount I’m willing to spend on whites vs. reds, which I suppose is interesting when you ponder it. I wonder if that follows sales trends in the broader markets? Red wine still seems much more complicated and SERIOUS to me, and although I like white wine, I always seem to view it as the l lesser. Stand tall and look at those upper shelves! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Marty, We have warfare at times, although, I am thankful it is not glass warfare. We enjoy red, white, craft, box, and we still reminisce about a dandelion wine. I am still waiting for my stomach lining to repair from all of the amazing NZ wines.

    I am on the side of the fence where price does not necessarily reflect the quality of the wine. Of course, taste is individual.

    It sounds like you and Gorgeous have the secret to a happy marriage, compromise and autonomy.

    Now great coffee. That is a whole other story😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, Erica, I didn’t dare go into coffee because that’s a whole other post!

      I’m actually all for alternative packaging after suffering from nasty cork rot back in my hardcore wine buying days (i.e., when I had that salary coming in). After two expensive bottles got ruined, I began to finally respect twist caps and boxes. There *is* decent box wine out there, though generally not at the supermarket.

      I’ve never tried dandelion wine. I must do so someday!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A group of us spent a day picking dandelions in Northern BC. If I recall, the recipe included citrus fruit. I still shudder, thinking about it. Memorable, as the worst wine ever! Unfortunate, about the cork rot, especially expensive wine. Enjoyed your story, Marty:) Erica

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Always an interesting dilemma: high-end or low-end. I like a glass of red wine – cabernet sauvignon – on occasion but still prefer an ice cold frosty glass of beer with a frothy head and shoulders on it. When I buy wine, though, I prefer the ones sitting at eye height on the shelves with labels that have drawn castles on them and an infomercial limit of $19.99; and that price limit mainly because I’m a Patriot and don’t want to see the country go down the tubes. From my high school world history class, I believe – if I remember correctly – that it’s a well-known fact that once wine in the Roman Empire hit a similar average of 31 denarii a bottle in 410AD, it was pretty much all over but the crying. The barbarians with their cases of cheap beer were packed and staggering southward toward a rendezvous with history; heading to live in “recently vacated and just like new condos” in Rome! I’m no historian, but I know that a $31 bottle of wine would buy three six packs of my favorite dark beer today so I’d be hard pressed to justify. I’ll gladly take a $8 bottle of wine with a beer chaser to honor my cheap ancestors! However, if that $31 wine keeps you eating well at home and Gorgeous happy, you need to latch onto that bottle like grim death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I’m no historian.” You managed to sneak in a snarky side commentary to the current global warming debate, you sly devil you! And you’re right, Tony, everyone knows the only bottles worth buying are the ones with castles on them— another sly admittance.

      So you’re saying we’re headed into a market meltdown soon, and we should look to the wine futures for guidance on when to start selling, eh? Well, if true we better start enjoying those $31 bottles while we can!


  9. I had quite the chuckle. I’m closer to you than to Gorgeous in my wine consumption (hubby rarely drinks, but is fine with me enjoying a glass or 2). I have a hard time spending more than $20 on a red, $15 on a white… more usually it’s a $12 red and a $8 white! I do have some of those at the higher end for when certain friends are over. Mostly I’m looking for the deals, usually at the grocery store! $30 for a bottle – in the store? Nope. One friend told me that at a really good restaurant, always go for the lower priced red because they would never have a bad wine on their menu…so that’s been my approach there as well. Gorgeous is shuddering, I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Restaurants usually aren’t a problem for us because we only will drink one glass each (me because I usually drive; her because she’s a lightweight drinker), so we each choose something different.

      Our all time favorite story about wine — one that would have made the post too long if I had included it — was a time we had dinner sitting at the bar of a Vero Beach restaurant because it had a great view of the ocean. I got to talking to a man on my left for about 15 minutes or so, and Gorgeous was left to her own devices. So she decided to order a second glass from the bartender. That surprised me, when I looked over and noticed, but I was even more surprised later when the bill came. She ordered the most expensive wine (a cabernet) that one could get by the glass at this place: $22.00. We still talk about her heady evening. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL. My best wine story is when friends offered to share a bottle of Opus One, at $150 a bottle. Hubby decided that maybe he should try reds (if he drinks wine, it always white) and I was …. no way are you getting any of this amazing wine! And yeah, it was amazing. But I would never buy it myself. Good to have friends who will share.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved this. My husband is not a wine drinker, and I’ve had to be careful about my wine selections since I’m staying to a mostly vegan diet. I’ve never been a fan of New Zealand wines, but the Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon isn’t bad, and it’s vegan approved.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My family’s fortune was built on the boxes of wine my father drank, instead of wine in a “proper” bottle with a cork. Once on my own, my first introduction to “fine wine” was an $8 bottle of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay. It is, in fact, on the second shelf from the bottom in my grocery store and I still love it for the whopping $10 that it costs now. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with a partner who knows truly fine wines, even lived in France a couple years. So I get to enjoy the best of both worlds as well! I really enjoy your posts so much!! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tracey! Kendall Jackson is very respectable wine, in my humble opinion. In fact, if I’m not mistaken I think their chardonnay won some kind of award many years ago. They’re probably still living off the fumes of that honor. 🙂

      Good to know that you have someone who’s so knowledgeable about French wines. A friend of mine had a mantra-type saying of, “You can never go wrong with a Côtes du Rhône,” so when in doubt that’s what I choose. Cheers to you also!


  12. I’m not a picky wine drinker. The truth is I don’t often drink it – that’s Husband’s poison of choice, and he always has a mix of cheap ‘everyday’ wines and expensive ‘company’ wines. I don’t particularly care.

    Vodka on the other hand …. top shelf all the way. It occasionally becomes a point of friction, but for my 2 martinis a week, I’m not planning on compromising anytime soon 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah… I do respect those top-shelf spirit consumers! Sadly my standards for martinis are also affected in our budget, and I’m “rail” all the way. But in my heart I’m still a Bombay and Boodles man for my martinis, so hopefully in a few years I can return to those brands again. 🙂


  13. I like wine, then I don’t like wine. I find buying it such a bothersome activity. You gotta know your grapes and your region and your year and your price point– and by then I’m thinking that a 6-pack of any beer would be just fine. So off I go to the beer cave to buy that instead of wine. 🍻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Ally. I went through a huge wine period when I moved to California in the early 2000’s, and it took me awhile to learn all that you mention (grapes, region, etc.). It was fun but expensive. I sort of drifted away from it after I retired because my budget won’t allow for what I used to buy! But fortunately the knowledge is still there even if the funds aren’t. 🙂 Nothing like a cold beer on a hot day or especially if there’s a ballgame in front of you.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I can relate, Marty. I have a hard time justifying the cost of an expensive bottle of wine. Like you, I would rather search for discounts among the bottom shelf brands than outlive my retirement savings. Have you ever thought of buying a cheaper version of Gorgeous’ favorite varietal and conducting a blind taste test to see if she can tell the difference?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, the ultimate arbiter, Joe: TASTE! Yes, sadly, my years of living in California and getting immersed in the wine culture almost immediately did give me a discerning palate. I can definitely tell the difference between the “yours” and “mine” purchases. I’m just willing to lower my standards a bit for now, and she’s not! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. That’s hilarious Marty. I’m more like Gorgeous either the best or abstain.
    I don’t drink alcohol much so just good coffees for me and pastries of course.
    The other day I scoffed down a $8.50 cronut 😩 guess I’d better not make it a habit since I can get a bowl of udon for $7.80 and that’s a meal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, she’s the same about coffee too, Vy. I’m actually much less picky about coffee; not cheap so much as just willing to accept 7-11 quality if it’s convenient and I’m desperate. But not her; it has to be from a quality barista. Even Starbucks is suspect!

      And, yes, careful about those $8.50 cronuts! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hehehe over here 7-11 have $1 coffees. One of my colleagues down in G town reckons it’s just a bit better than an instant 😂 I don’t do Starbucks either.
        I tend to go to local cafes.
        We Melbournians are coffee snobs 😂

        Liked by 1 person

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