Rick's Picks: The First Time

How did we get started with wine?

One day back in college, we needed something to drink for a football game. Yes, people really did take alcohol to football games back in those degenerate days. We were sick of the standard thermos of whiskey sours. Something new was needed. So I stopped in the liquor store to see what they had. There were a couple very cheap French wines there that the proprietor said were surprisingly good. Can't go wrong for a couple bucks, right?

These two wines turned out to be a generic cooperative bottling of 1966 St. Emilion. Apparently it was a good year with a huge harvest, and the overstock from the vineyards was blended and bottled and sold at very modest prices. This was 1968, and modest prices meant, believe it or not, only a few dollars. The "Cave Cooperative" St. Emilion came in two varieties. The ordinary wine had a very impressive blue label with gold type and sold for $1.99. The Grand Cru version, presumably from vineyards with that appellation, had an equally impressive red label with gold type, and cost a dollar more. They were imported by Eric Lambert & Sons, New York, and proudly displayed "Selection Lambert" on the label. (This was an era when personal selections were very common, and wines were often branded by the importer. One of the more reliable was "Monsieur Henri" of Monsieur Henri Wines, also of New York, if you remember back then.)

This wine was unbelievable, with a huge, fruity and smoky nose, and long and fruity and dry on the tongue. If I still had any of it today, it would compare favorably with wines that cost twenty to fifty times as much. Of course, money in general has inflated quite a lot since then, and French wines have inflated even more than that, but still, three bucks! Does anyone else out there remember this wine? I still have one of the labels.

Over the next approximately two years, we bought and drank half a dozen cases of that wonderful vintage. And that was the beginning of this love affair with the grape.

Copyright 1995,1996,2001 by Richard Landau. All rights reserved. Comments and flames to the author. "Why use rational argument when there's a flame-thrower handy?" Hey, go ahead. I didn't exactly leave the gloves on when I wrote this. (home page) (webmaster@ricksoft.com) using that sterling tool, HTML Author. Last modified 2001/01/29.