This article belongs to Wine theme.

Opening a good bottle of wine can be a thrilling experience, or so I'm told. Most of my drinking time is spent swilling subpar varieties of beer and/or whiskey, so I'm afraid the subject of wine is a little outside my tiny realm of knowledge.

Coming from a blue collar background doesn't do a lot cultivate your appreciation of alcoholic beverages that can run into the tens of dollars a bottle…yes, I said ONE bottle, outrageous! In the immortal words of Nick the Bartender in "It's a Wonderful Life", "we serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast, and we don't need any characters around to give the joint ‘atmosphere'."…words to live by. Not that I have anything against wine drinkers, in fact, I have a sizable respect for the ones who really seem to know their stuff. I'd love to be able to throw around terms like "Bordeaux", "Cru Bourgeois" and "Cabernet", if for no other reason than to showcase an otherwise useless Pepe Le Pew impersonation. I assume I could fake wine appreciation as easily as other things in my life, but who really has the time and energy for that kind of display…open a bottle of Schlitz and call it a day.

Needless to say, it was not the prom dress loosener I’d be hoping for, I would have been better off throwing my hard-earned bagboy money down on a twelve pack of Hamm’s and a pint of peppermint schnapps, live and learn.
Besides growing up as a working class beer drinker, I also had the disadvantage of not being catholic, where apparently, the wine flows through the church aisles like water through Bolder Dam. My church as a boy had more of a Baptist Light feel to it; we took communion, but it was really just a shot glass of Welch's grape juice. It was a refreshing pick me up about halfway through the service, but hardly the ass-kicking feel good you'd expect from the blood of our Lord and Savoir. That, I assumed, was reserved for the beverage contained in the giant communal goblet of the Catholic church…they had the gold, the robes and the massive buildings, surely they had cases of the good stuff stacked behind the alter, as well. Maybe God had preordained that I avoid the trappings of the fermented grape.

My first taste of wine was Burgundy champagne I'd purchased for my junior prom date. I couldn't tell you the brand or the year; a seventeen-year-old can't be bothered with such petty details. My assumption was that if the word "champagne" wasn't classy enough to get me some action, perhaps the word "burgundy" would be the bean that tipped the scales in my direction. I believe at some point I even pointed out to the lovely lass that I had obtained "a Burgundy" for our drinking pleasure; as if I had strolled down to the wine cellar that morning and selected it especially for her…must have been the tuxedo talking. What I was expecting from my protestant experience was a sparkling grape juice type flavor, what I got was piss from a horse that had gotten into someone's stash of antifreeze and spoiled jelly. I had already been drinking beer and various liquors by that point, but none seemed to match the foulness of this over-priced tripe. Of course, I put on a good face for my date, as I'm sure she did for me, but I don't think either of us was particularly enjoying it. Needless to say, it was not the prom dress loosener I'd be hoping for, I would have been better off throwing my hard-earned bagboy money down on a twelve pack of Hamm's and a pint of peppermint schnapps, live and learn.

My second foray into the world of wine was in college, where we'd pour copious amounts of fortified wine into a lined garbage can with Hawaiian Punch. We'd use various brands of these wines; MD 20/20, Night Train, Boone's Farm, but my favorite was always Thunderbird, it seemed to be the most wine-like bottle of the group; no cork, but a nice clear bottle with a respectable label…pure class. Compared to the Burgundy, it was fantastic, and much more effective at loosening the morals of all those huddled around the trash can of good hope. Thank you, Ernest & Julio Gallo.

After college, I rarely dipped my foot into the deep pools of wine consumption. Once in a while an acquaintance would order a bottle with dinner, but I usually got through this by filling my mouth with food and then washing it down with the vino, thereby masking the wine taste with a meatball or something. Hey, the man just paid $27 for a bottle of wine, I didn't want to be rude.

Nowadays, any wine consumption on my part is limited to those weak house wines they put on tables at wedding receptions. Although, this strategy is only employed when I fail to stock up on two or three palatable cocktails before the bar closes for dinner. I'm not even sure these should count as wines, they don't even make me wretch, so you know they must be of horrible quality.

Maybe I'll develop an appreciation for wine in my golden years, but I doubt it, tigers rarely change their stripes. People have told me all my life about acquired tastes for coffee, scotch, horseradish, cell phones, all of which I'm still trying to acquire, or am refusing to acquire, depending on your point of view. In any case, to those that savor the grape, I raise a glass in your honor…it just happens to be filled with Pabst Blue Ribbon. Yes, I know, ignorance is bliss.