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The Art of Drinking 2: Drink Harder
Learning how to enjoy wine
"It's like looking into the eye of a duck."
During my time as a raging alcoholic (I've been one since Kerry lost the election, by my count), I've taken a liking to wine. It's partly because if I sucked down as much hard liquor as I need to fulfill my sickening habit, I'd already be dead by now. But the other reason is wine is different from hard liquor (in ways other than alcohol % by volume). For one, it actually tastes good, and the people who made it intended for it to taste good, as opposed to hard liquor manufacturers saying "Let's find a way of having the most percent alcohol by volume for the cheapest possible price! Someone get a pint of antifreeze and dog urine!" and producing the piss that qualifies as 'gin' or 'whiskey'. Now, I know there are a lot of guides dedicated to enjoying wine. But all of them are written for the older set. Shit like "savoring"'s frequently mentioned as an action essential to drinking. That's not aimed towards the younger drunkard! Therefore, I shall craft a guide for you, the demographically convenient, on how to enjoy wine in a world of beer pong and wops.
First, I should explain in depth why an alcoholic should not, I repeat, should not take hard liquor as his primary form of liquid comfort. I tried it for a while, back during my days of white hot hatred (aka last year). It's not a good idea. Sure, the shit gets you drunk faster, and when you're underage or within the first couple legal years that's the entire fucking goal of drinking, but there are some definite negative side-effects to hard liquors. They either taste like shit or don't taste like anything at all, they fuck up your body if you've not had the right amount of sustenance that day, and the hangovers are a fucking beast if you have not set up for yourself a good routine (such as, say, alka-seltzer and aspirin 3 minutes after waking up). For the drunkard whose life isn't entirely drinking, you need some quick recovery if you're going to turn to alcoholism.
Wine gives one the ability to have the aforementioned quick recovery. I tested it, and if I get the same amount drunk on wine as I do on hard liquor (which, obviously, means I drink a lot more liquor overall due to the smaller %), the wine hangover's much nicer. A shitty hangover can paralyze a guy for days on end. I once had one that lasted a total of 4 days. Took me a lot of orange juice and pussy to get the awful taste of shitty whiskey out of my mouth, and then I had to spend a solid day washing the mediocre pussy out of my mouth (I'm reminded of Principal Skinner's plan to get rid of the pigeon-killing lizards, only my experience never involved gorillas that froze to death). In addition to the nicer hangover and better taste, there's something about wine that you can't get with hard liquor. I'll try to articulate it.
The upside to wine that does not occur with hard liquor is wine applies to social situations hard liquor can't or doesn't apply to. For instance, if you're in a social function that doesn't promise rough sex and/or copious amounts of drugs, like say a dinner with relatives, it is not customary to break out some malt liquor. Wine, however, is perfectly acceptable. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to dinner socially for one reason or another and have gotten myself incredibly shitfaced off the shittiest wine on the wine list (which is still more expensive than my most expensive wine in the Doom cabinet). But getting shitfaced is okay because it's wine! It comes in a fancy glass instead of a gauche red cup! The classiness is the perfect smokescreen. Wine's also great if you're trying to quit but can't quite do it. Drinking vodka or whiskey every day? Horrible. Wine every day? You'll develop a shitty taste in your mouth most mornings, but you'll recover quickly.
That aforementioned sophisticated quality allows you to define your alcoholism as something less than a destructive addiction which threatens to (and eventually does) alienate you from your friends, your family, your lover, your co-workers and everything else in your life and destroy your health. Perception's important if you don't want to be faced by a revolving door of moralizing friends 'concerned' for your personal well-being. I know I fucking don't want to deal with that shit, and since I'm never seen knocking back scotch in a Sean Connery manner, I never get any guff from my friends (of course, a lot of my friends are also debaucherous individuals, so your mileage may vary). So you can easily be like me and drink 14 bottles a week and never receive flak for drinking yourself into an early grave. Free of fucking concern, the life of an alcoholic's is lacking in a lot of albatrosses.
So now that I've established why wine is superior to hard liquors, how does one enjoy wine? Well, as the great Bernard Black said: "It's all waffle! No one is willing to admit that wine doesn't actually have a taste". I feel that holds true, although it may be because my tastebuds are fucked and I'm not talented enough to greatly differentiate the taste of wine. I know when shit is sweet or bitter or smooth or whatever, but I'm unable to detect fucking "airs of" and "touches of" the way professional wine tasters are able to. Wine is wine is wine. You're supposed to drink it to get drunk. The whole fucking point of alcohol is you drink it to excess to induce intoxication. Anything less and you just wasted liquor for 'taste' purposes or for a 'buzz' (the worst usage of alcohol ever). All that shit about savoring is just that - shit. I gulp it down, pour the next glass, gulp it down and so on until there's nothing left and I have to open another bottle. That's all there is to it.
That said, there is some differentiation in taste and especially in brand. For taste, I prefer whites over reds. Chardonnay and anything Sauvignon is usually good, whereas Merlot and Shiraz tend to taste like shit if you get something on the cheap. As for brand, it's important, specifically if you're like me and you buy wine by its lowest possible price and not its quality. Therefore, taste is always going to take a backseat because when you're buying shit at $3-4 a bottle, you shouldn't be concerned with how good it tastes. Instead, you should care about how terrible it tastes and then choose what tastes the least terrible at the cheapest possible price. Hence why I'm a big fan of Charles Shaw, known as Two Buck Chuck or Three Buck Chuck, depending upon on the local price. Shaw's a rare wine that's really cheap yet is tolerable even for people who don't make it a habit to quaff shitty booze to save on money while still feeding their addiction. Lots of variety, too; there's usually Merlot, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Valdigue sometimes. I prefer the Chardonnay, though even the Merlot's pretty good by Merlot standards.
Also known to me as 'God'.
Other brands I recommend: Foxhorn, Alice White, Purple Moon...basically anything on www.cheapwinereviews.com is something I've tasted and deemed 'tolerable enough to drink without needing an unwieldy chaser. If cheap wine at an 11%-12% clip isn't for you, and you want something harder...I do have a few other options for you. Namely, Thunderbird. Thunderbird is a legend amongst my circle of friends for its seemingly hallucinogenic properties. Fuck absinthe; Thunderbird's like fucking LSD. Furioso drank it one night last summer and it loosened his tongue to the extent that he revealed some personal stories us assembled (Nixon, Black Goliath, Jazz, myself) really didn't need to hear. He also used a few choice phrases over and over again ("stomping grounds" springs to mind) and at points during the night considered me God and the Devil (though not simultaneously). Furioso's one of the heartier drinkers I know; I usually get trashed much faster than him. I'd say he's second only to Malt Goliath in terms of holding his liquor. So if half a bottle of Thunderbird turned him into a loon, think of what'd happen to me, or you, the reader, if Thunderbird was ingested. Thus, if you do go for Thunderbird, be prepared. You might pull a Joseph Smith and discover a new religion, and we don't need another fucking Mormonism 'discovery'. Mad Dog, Night Train and other fortified wines do similar things, but none pack a whallop as hard as Thunderbird does. It's the hardest wine you'll ever find, and it's probably made of dead coal miners and depleted uranium.
I should add that I had a similar religious experience on another fortified wine. One time Commando bought me a triple threat of what I'd later find out was cooking wine; all I remember is one of them was Sherry, otherwise known as The Destroyer. I nonetheless drank 'em cause I'm me and might as well drink it away if I in fact made a horrible investment. Out of the 3 bottles I got through 2 1/2. This is pretty impressive considering I drank the first one in one sitting and then later drank the other two on the same afternoon. One glass of Sherry is shit. A bottle? Shittier. More than one bottle of Sherry and whatever other shit cooking wine Commando bought for $3 each? Head explodingly awful. I lost control of my entire body. I was still in there, but was unable to respond to queries or immediately recognize my surroundings. I felt like a prisoner. Strangely, though, once I threw up (a lot), I didn't have any lingering effects. I found it strange because usually ingestion of such horrible toxins sets my body back at least a day, not merely an hour. See! Even when you buy the shittiest possible fortified wine, the aftermath is still less deathly than anything that's purely distilled.
See, wine has it all. Sophistication, good taste, hallucinogens embedded in wine fit for bums, and There's one drawback to drinking wine, though: wine snobs. If there's one thing I hate more than beer pong, it has to be wine snobs. Wine snobbery sums up hundreds of years of rich fuck elitism in one pithy subgenre of douchebaggery. It's the apotheosis of the naive European aristocrats who tilted their noses at the serfs yet didn't realize fucking cousins wasn't really a good idea. Thankfully, wine snobs don't really show up in the life of a drunk until you reach your mid-20s, as that's when people transition from regular alcoholics to hipster fucking 'appreciators'. It still depends on the crowd you run with, though. Obviously someone in Shitty Urban Environment #107 won't cross paths with guys named "Trey" or "Todd" who tut tut over what poison you pick. I live in Milwaukee, and specifically hang around the East Side trendy locale on occasion so I'm bound to cross paths with these kinds of assholes sooner or later, provided I don't blow town for Montreal (there are wine snobs there, too, but I don't speak French so I don't give a fuck).
Wine snobs behave similarly to gadget elitists, commodity fetishists and everything else that's wrong and evil with our culture. They treat acquisition as a fucking quest for dominance. Fuck, it ain't like wine's a fucking art like music or film. Wine is just for enjoyment. You drink it, you get intoxicated, there. That's it. It does what it does. It's not meant to be more. The only reason wine tasting and such exists is winemakers want to bilk you out of money by determining their wines to be worth incredibly exorbitant costs. That's all there is to the wine industry. A bunch of fucks who want extra money. I don't care if the grapes are from Eden and the Pope's holy semen is added during the fermentation process. There is no way a bottle of fucking wine should cost $75, $100, $200. It's still the same goddamn quantity (~750 mL) and the same percent (12%-13% +-1%). Taste is relative and not as important as the end result. Sipping and savoring is for assholes. Drink to get drunk; forgo the wine tasting phase of your alcoholic career. Wine drinking yuppie-style isn't like Sideways. It's more a couple of fucks standing around a kitchen commenting on how the glass reminds them of something they drank out of a mime's shoe in 1977 Paris, only with a touch more burgundy.
That is the biggest pitfall of drinking wine: the fucks who may associate with you because of your also drinking wine. But if you're able to sequester yourself from ever having to deal with those pretentious fucks (or pretentious fucks in general), you should be good to go. If you give wine the proper shot, you should fine it to the most tolerable of all liquors, with enough of a variability in alcohol percent to get you pretty fucking drunk at a low cost. Yep, wine's got it all. Plus, it's the liquor of choice for Bernard Black, and I can't say anything Bernard does isn't recommended by me.
I may do a sequel to this article once I acclimate myself to drinking good wine instead of cheap wine. At that point I'll be able to discuss things like age, expense and all the other things wine aficionados discuss if they're not just trying to get plastered. But until I get cash, I'm gonna be sticking with the inexpensive shite fermented under a hockey rink.