When it comes to wine, I’m probably drinking cheap swill

Whether you buy your wine at the gas station, the grocery store, or an upscale booze emporium, you know that–other than those disgusting boxes with faucets on them–most wine comes in the a 750 ml (standard) bottle and a 1.5 L magnum bottle.

After the harvest. Wikipedia artwork.

Other than an occasional glass of scuppernong wine, I drink nothing but red wines: Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Shiraz, and Cabernet Savauginon. I don’t drink Merlot because it tastes like the original Vick’s Formula 44 from my childhood, nor do I drink Port because it just tastes gosh awful.

But, I digress. I buy wine in the 1.5 L size because the standard 750 ml bottles are (according to me) a rip off and environmentally irresponsible. That is, two of them usually cost more than one 1.5 L bottle. So, I’m paying for extra glass. What a waste.

What tells me I’m drinking swill is the fact that wine clubs and other forms of advertising are telling me what a good deal it is for me to buy (from them) a 750 ml bottle of whatever for, say, $15 to $25 dollars. Excuse me. I don’t even pay that much for a 1.5 L bottle.

The 1.5 L bottles of red wine that I normally buy sell from about $8 to $12 dollars. So, telling me that half as much wine at twice the cost is not going to get my attention. I’m sure those with refined tastes can probably list all the aromas and influences in every glass of wine they drink while being able to identify whether it’s Shiraz or Zinfandel with their eyes closed.

I’m grateful that my tastes are less-well defined because, while I appreciate the complex makeups of various wines, I don’t need them any more than I need coffee from Starbucks where one cup costs more than I spend in a week when making coffee at home. (My favorite restaurant coffee is what I get at Waffle House, so that probably tells you all you need to know about how much I’m willing to pay for something to drink.)

I remember the “old days” when cigarettes were starting to get expensive and people were figuring out just how much a person spent on tobacco every year if they smoked one, two, or three packs a day. I feel that way about wine and coffee. I want it to taste good, but I seriously don’t see the point of paying more per year than my house is worth just so I can brag about and show off my favorite premium brands.

However, what I would like wineries and wine distributors to do is stop selling those puny 750 ml bottles as standard. They are a waste of money when you consider how much packaging is in them compared to the larger bottles. This argument ought to appeal to those who drink swill and to those who buy wine at $100 per bottle.





Finding Thomas Hall – Author Beth Sorensen Discovers Her Passion in a College Course


Today’s guest post has been contributed by Beth Sorensen, author of “Crush at Thomas Hall” (Chalet, August 2010) and “Divorcing a Dead Man” (Chalet, August 2011). My review of her romantic mystery, “Crush at Thomas Hall” appeared here on Malcolm’s Round Table in September 2010. Sorensen lives in Delaware with her husband and three children.

Finding Thomas Hall

When I sat down to write Crush at Thomas Hall, I already knew I wanted my story to take place in Virginia. I was born and raised there and the eastern coast of the commonwealth as only a native would. Most people, however, would not necessarily associate wineries with this part of the United States. And until I was in my mid-twenties, neither did I. Until I returned to Old Dominion University in the mid-nineties, to finish a degree I had started six years earlier. My interests had changed and so did my major. I enrolled in the geography program and set myself on a track that included taking classes year-round.

As a single mom, I often took a night classes. I was fortunate to have the help of family with my son and I could knock out a three credit class while only being away from home one night a week. In the summer of 1996 I enrolled in the geography of wine. Sounds like an easy class, right? Wrong! It turned out to be two nights a week of six weeks. One night lecture, the other lab. Okay, so the lab was fun, but lecture was no joke. The history of wine, wine in early America, how and what type of grapes are grown, how wine is made, stored, and sold were all topics on the syllabus.

I fell in love with every part of the class and when I went out on our field assignment, this was a 400 level class; I fell in love with wineries as a location. I had the great pleasure of spending several hours at Ingleside Winery with their then wimemaster Tom Payette. The day left me with a true sense of what vineyard and winery life was like. I visited others that summer and discovered that they were all beautiful and romantic with a touch of mystery. And for our final, we had to design our own winery and defend its practicality.

So when it came time to choose which winery to use as a setting for my romantic mystery series I knew exactly where it would take place. A winery of my own design, named after my great-grandmother’s maiden name, Thomas Hall.

Protagonist Cassandra Martin from “Crush at Thomas Hall” returns in “Divorcing at Dead Man,” available in Kindle and trade paperback editions.

Cassandra Martin’s life is bordering on perfection. She has settled down in the Northern Neck of Virginia and has an amazing job running a winery. In addition, she plans to marry the man of her dreams, sexy billionaire Edward Baker.

However, in Cassandra’s world, perfection usually means the earth is about to drop out from under her and this time is no exception. What starts as a series of prank calls, soon reveals her abusive, late husband, Tony Martin, is very much alive and looking for her, three weeks before she plans to remarry. Now she must do the unthinkable as a devout Catholic, divorce Tony. When secrets  alienate her from her fiancé, Cassandra begins to question the advances of a man that wants more than her friendship. And when she wakes up after having been  drugged and kidnapped, Cassandra begins to wonder if she’ll live long enough to decide whether or not she wants to walk down the aisle.