Popping the cork on a new way of life

Of pure coincidence as it relates to the recent trifecta of columns regarding our daughter’s struggles, I have been drinking wine lately.

Now, I am a beer drinker first and foremost. I want to make that abundantly beer, I mean clear. But also beer—I would like to make an abundant beer, actually. So yes, beer is great and I love it and it is my favorite.

That said, I have been getting into wine lately. Now, by “getting into” I mean that I enjoy drinking it, especially with dinner, not that I am developing any sort of pretentious wine palate or saying ridiculous things like, “I prefer a French merlot to a California cabernet.” Just writing that sentence gave me the chills. Although it should be mentioned that the levels of disdain and respect I have for self-proclaimed wine connoisseurs is strangely equal.

So no, I am not a wine snob. In fact, a major reason behind my dalliance into vino was my introduction to Trader Joe’s famed “three-buck Chuck.” (Which used to be two-buck Chuck.) It had always been a rule of mine to never pay more than $20 (ideally $10, if I’m being honest) for a bottle of wine because I know nothing about wine, so the $2.99 bottles of Charles Schwab Shaw red were right up my alley and, not before long, in my shopping cart. And it’s pretty good! You can trust me because I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Of course, my slow but steady approach to wine started years ago when I met my future wife and her Italian family. My father-in-law drinks wine every night with dinner, and my wife and brothers-in-law claim to have first tried it when they were like 3. It’s never been treated like dangerous alcohol or something to approach tenuously—it’s just always there and it’s delicious so why not drink it? I agree.

And so there I was not too long ago, at Trader Joe’s, doing something I never thought I’d do—buying a case of wine. A case! Who do I think I am, German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe? (I Googled “famous wine drinkers” for that joke. Hope you liked it!)

Thus began my routine of having a small glass of red wine with dinner most evenings. Everything was going smoothly until somewhat recently, when summer began (in April) and what was once considered “room temperature” was now 80-plus degrees. “This three-buck Chuck tastes … hot,” is what I would say while making a terrible face as our two girls complained about whatever it was we were eating.

Although I am no wine connoisseur, I am also not a monster, so it wasn’t like I was going to put my red wine in the fridge. Or put ice in it! What is this, Alabama? Sheesh. But I also couldn’t drink it hot. As if out of some demented children’s story, I realized I needed my wine to be juuuust right, and to do that I needed to take my newfound love of wine to the next level.

Yes, I bought a wine refrigerator.

And what a difference it has made. It holds up to eight (8) bottles of three-buck Chuck or, I suppose, other wines, and the sweet hum of that baby on our kitchen counter makes me even more excited for dinner than usual. Even my wife has channeled her inner 3-year-old and rekindled her love of wine. Now we happily cheers each other over dinner, ignoring our two girls who are complaining about whatever it is we are eating.

We have our new wine refrigerator to thank for that. Plus, it looks great so close to our beer refrigerator, which my wife just calls “the refrigerator.”

"Pairs beautifully with mac n' cheese and/or fish tacos." - Wine Aficionado magazine

Note: This column appears in the 7/4 issue of The Glendale Star and the 7/5 issue of the Peoria Times.


There's also the "30-minute rule." For bottles of red at room temperature, just let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes, then take it out and it should have cooled just enough (bot not too much) to drink.

For whites wine, just keep it in the fridge all the time. Thirty minutes before it's time to drink, take it out and let it sit for said 30 minutes. By then, it has warmed to the ideal temperature for whites.

Never fails.