For the most part, I think my friends know I like good wine, and my friends like good wine, and my friends also like me...so, when they come over, for drinks, dinner, or (as is most often the case) for wine...they bring a good bottle of wine. That's the friends. Then there's the acquaintances. The ones who think its a polite and culturally expected gesture to bring "a bottle of wine" to a party - and so that any old bottle will do. The ones who think "it's the thought that counts." For the record - and as a working professional in the gift industry I think I can say this with reasonable authority - if the thought is going to count...you actually have to put some thought into it.
Like...hmmm...I think I should go to The Wine Shop and find something she might like. Or at the very least, something she might consider drinking. This one's in a pretty bottle...that could work. Hey, this one has a copper foil letterpress label...she'd love that. Or, this one's got two gold stickers on it. Must be a winner. Whatever the grading rubric, whatever the occasion, "Natural Sweet Red" is not the answer. In fact, the thought of not getting Natural Sweet Red would count a hell of a lot more than the thought of getting it. If you're at a gas station or small corner shop that only has that kind of wine (the kind that's not really like wine at all)...then the thought should be, hey, this sucks...I'll just grab a box of chocolates or some flowers instead. Chocolates get eaten, flowers eventually die and get thrown out...but that bottle of sweet red? That stays. That stays forever.
Long after the smooth merlots, the light pinots, the barolos and the blends have come and gone...good old NSR is still there. Gathering dust, taking up space in the wine rack, and worst of all...pretending to be a real bottle of wine. So often, too often, when all the other ones have disappeared...and you notice one lonely bottle in the rack...and your heart skips a beat...and you think yay! I'm not all out! But you are. Because that lonely bottle is always the same old Natural, Sweet, Red. With the ugly foil, and the ugly label and the ugly font. And to be frank, I haven't even actually tasted the stuff. As a designer, I deeply believe in the power of packaging to tell you everything you need to know. And in this case, it says, quite loudly: Do not open. Do not drink. Do not pass GO. And do not collect 200.
Good talk. So wine snob thoughts and feelings aside, the wonderful news I'd really like to share this week is that I finally found a use for the NSR! I've never had the heart to give it away, I wouldn't dare take it to another party (as so many people do), and they say you shouldn't cook with wine you wouldn't drink, so I couldn't do that either. Instead...I got an idea to make some cute gift tags for The Wine Shop...to print them on watercolour paper...and to paint them with...wine! I walked ceremonially over to the little yellow neck sticking out of the rack, pulled it out, wiped the dust off with a tea towel, and said Congratulations Red, you are no longer cheap awful wine that nobody wants...you are now paint. And together we opened up a great Merlot to celebrate.
Here's the rest of the christening in pictures.