by JACK BAKER
We are awash with wine. The U.S. produces 9.4% and imports 17.6% of the world total. And we drink a lot of it—more per year than any other nation at 966 million gallons. That’s about 14 (750 milliliter) bottles a year for everyone in the country.
Our numbers sound impressive but are they, really? That per capita consumption is, to say the least, a little off. Many other countries drink more per person than we do. France, Andorra, Slovenia, and Croatia are ahead of us. Even remote Norfolk Island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean beats us in individual consumption. In fact, when it comes to individual consumption, we’re near the bottom of the list.
Want to take a guess at who is at the top? Did anyone pick the Vatican? The inhabitants of that tiny city-state consume about 72 bottles per person per year, five times our amount. We’re told that most of its wine is used in communion. Uh-huh, believe that?
Such massive availability brings the problem of choice. How do we select our evening wine without succumbing to sensory overload, like Robbie the Robot in the 1956 film Forbidden Planet? When he is conflicted, Robbie gestures wildly. His antennas spin, his hammers clack out of control, his electromechanical brain overloads, and he shuts down.
Wine brokers, importers, and wine and grocery merchants greatly narrow the selection, but at the personal level, selecting a wine can still be an overwhelming experience. For those who don’t want to dither among the wine shelves, there is an alternative: the grab- and-go store.
Feast Market and Cellar has created a library of 400 hand-selected wines in its store at 407 W. Patterson Drive. The collection is large enough to provide choice without bringing on brain freeze. A patron can opt to drink a bottle at the restaurant or can grab one and go.
The Pantry at Goods for Cooks, 115 N. College, offers a mix of gourmet food stuffs including cheeses, pastas, oils, and vinegars. Recently, the management has added a small selection of its favored wines intended to ease a last-minute selection for dinner.
Capisce Catering & Market at 215 W. 6th St. is a true grab-and-go store that offers healthy, preservative-free alternatives to products at conventional grocery chains. It houses a small but interesting selection of northern Italian and Slovenian wines.
Unless you stay with the same thing each time, finding the right wine can be a gamble. I always recommend looking for something a little different, and these stores offer ways to select with a minimum of bother.
And I will drink to that.