Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Cheap Red Wine

Drinking wine from a box is something that a lot of people do. Myself included. I clearly recall the days (read: college) when many small get-togethers with friends involved at least one three liter box of the stuff. The wine wasn't phenomenal, but at that stage of my life I didn't really care. I believe my style of thinking was more along the lines of 'Three liters of wine for under fifteen dollars? OK, I'll take four, please.'

And that style of thinking is still with me to some extent, although I'm sure it resurfaces less frequently than my wallet would like.

One such instance was this past weekend when I picked up a 600 yen bottle of red wine housed in a plastic bottle. Apparently beverage behemoth, Suntory, has teamed up with a winery or two in France to produce a red and white Cocovin. They both come packaged in plastic.

Yes, plastic.

Big deal, right? Haven't we already gotten used to screw-top caps due to the cork shortage? Aren't we destined for packaging techniques that reduce shipping costs? Hell, some of the Beaujolais Nouveau sold this year in Japan hit the shelves in plastic. Not that the stuff was great wine or anything, but you get the picture. And I believe that was a pretty faithful rendition of what was going through my mind at the time.

Well...I guess I should have known better. As you probably guessed, the wine was a little bit...interesting. I'm now slightly suspicious that the wine shipped under the Cocovin brand has leftover Beaujolais Nouveau mixed in with it. It has that same kind of brash floral aroma that vaults out of the bottle as soon as it's uncorked unscrewed. And it's just as floral on the palate, but coming from me that's not a compliment. I started to get the feeling that I was sucking on a lilac bush. And the taste lingered for quite a while after I had gulped. Yikes.

White wines are the ones that have more acidity; it defines them, gives them a presence and a backbone that is expected and appreciated. However, the Cocovin red, for whatever reason, is light on tannins but heavy on acidity, especially in the finish. The result is a rather flowery-sour aftertaste.

That said, you get what you pay for, and I certainly did. For those who wish to head down this route, I would highly recommend putting the red in the fridge for at least an hour before opening. After the mercury drops, the aroma calms down and the aftertaste diminishes noticeably. At that temperature, you could argue that it's worth 600 yen.

Oh woe is us. Is this what we're in for? It seems fairly obvious that in order to sell people on the whole 'wine in a plastic bottle' thing, even if it's going to make our hooch cheaper, a lot of said wine better be pretty damned good. Otherwise we're not going to buy it. We'll be headed straight down the whole rosé path again (nobody would buy it until it was renamed blush, remember?). Anyway, message to Suntory: please try again.

But I digress. Come to think of it, two extra seconds of brain usage and I would have realized that I haven't bought wine in anything other than a glass bottle for a good 10 years. There's obviously a reason for that.

Lesson learned. I guess I actually care about what I drink now. The extra 300 yen per bottle is well worth it.

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