I know you guys. You are a lawyer, an Army Major, or a technical professional. You have worked hard to get where you are, and now you want to lift your nose from the grindstone and date a girl who can become Mrs. Forever before you are old enough to be a grandfather, and while the women your age are still in their child-bearing years. Times a-wastin.
So, you meet her via mutual friends or on the Rottweiler-lovers singles website, and the first two dates go smoothly. Your thinking it might be time for a third date, and you call to ask her out for dinner. She replies, Why dont we stay in for dinner? Id like to cook my dear Aunt Kates Stroganov for us. Awesome, you say to yourself. She totally digs me. So you come right back with, Great! Should I bring anything?
And then it happens. Sure, she replies casually, you can bring some wine. Gotta run, see you Friday. Before you can say Stroganov, she hangs up.
At this point your confidence dissolves, and your smug emotions give way to something between confusion and panic. Why? Because youre a beer guy, thats why. The problem is that although you can argue like a presidential candidate about the relative merits of German Hoffenblogen Pilsner versus English pub bitters and your Dad weaned you on Heineken, you do not know beans about wine. Why, you could not tell a decent French Baune from a headache-inducing overly oaky California chardonnay.
Moreover, you dont know what Stroganov is, let alone what wine people have with it. And, it happens to be Thursday. How are you going to impress a date under these circumstances? Lets see you ponder, drumming your fingers while trying to reestablish your confidence white is for fish, and red is for steak. OK, what is Stroganov, anyway? Is it pork? Is that really the other white meat?
Real men are not afraid to seek professional help at a time like this. After all, at this stage in the game you dont want to blow it with the wrong wine. Even so, the last thing you need is some intimidating French wine snob to be laughing at you to your face while explaining that his wine is dry.
Nor do you have time to rifle though a wine magazine that wants you to try an obscure, unpronounceable $50 Alsatian Riesling that is available only in select wine shops, all of which are in New York. You need something good, fast, and cheap too because you just spent your paycheck on your car payment. See? I told you I know you. So relax, Im with the government, and I am here to help.
All of the wines in the following list are available in ample quantity at retailers within walking distance of City Hall. All of these wines go for less than $10, so you can buy two bottles and still have money for dog food. Since reds tend to marry better with wintery foods, for this column I have done serious reconnaissance into redsbut in case your date is serving white meat, I am including white wines as well. My thanks to the wine managers at these establishments who provided these choices. However, I will have to turn off my computer now, since I dont drink so well when I write. What I mean is, oh, never mind. On with the list, and pass me the bottle.
1. Balduccis, S. Washington and 600 Franklin Sts: Reds: Cartilidge and Brown Cabernet or Merlot; Mark West Pinot Noir; Whites: Picpul de Pinet; Touraine Sauvignon Blanc.
2. The Winery, Inc., 317 S. Washington St.: Red: Folie a Deuxs Menage a Trois; Blackwing Shiraz. Whites: Indaba; Fat Bastard.
3. Trader Joes, 612 N. St. Asaph: Reds: Darien Tempranillo; Blason de Borgognes Pinot Noir; Whites: Horton (Virginia!) Chardonnay; Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc.
There is one more thing. Your date will ask you to open the wine. Purchase a good quality corkscrew. My favorite is a waiters levered corkscrew, but some aficionados prefer other types. In my opinion, flange corkscrews tend to break the cork or push it into the bottle. Just be sure you know how to use it. Good luck on your date, and do not forget to remove the price tag.
Kiki Obadal is a graduate of LEcole du Vin of Sherlocks Wine Cellar in Atlanta, Georgia, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Occasionally, she cooks Beef Stroganov.