Last Glass with the Penniless Epicure

Written by Josh Perilo on . Posted in Dining Our Town, Dining West Side Spirit, Eat & Drink, Our Town, The Penniless Epicure, West Side Spirit.


A few bits of ageless wisdom to drink by

And so we have come, dear reader, to the end of the road. Yes, I am sad to report that you are reading what is to be the final installment of Penniless Epicure published by Manhattan Media. I don’t know if I’ve actually picked up any regular readers over the three-plus years that I’ve been writing this column. In my fantasy I imagine hordes of smartly dressed oenophiles rushing to the nearest Our Town or West Side Spirit receptacle every Thursday morning, pushing each other out of the way to get at the first, fresh copy of my droplets of wine-wisdom.

The reality is probably more along the lines of: every once in a while someone who has picked up the paper in order to read about some local news decides, “Hey, what the heck—I’ve always wanted to know what they put on the last couple pages of this thing.”

So, whether this is your first time reading this column or your 150-something’th, thank you!

Now … I suppose I should write a little bit about wine for my final column, right? But what exactly does one write about such an insanely vast subject, knowing that this is the last bit of info that they’re tossing onto the pile?

A list of my all-time-favorite wines? A rant about the rudeness of New York City restaurant patrons? A rant about the apathy of New York City wait staff? Hmm …

What I think I’ll try to do is be as simple and basic as I can and talk about what I think are the most important things to remember when drinking wine:

Read … and drink while you read! There is so much literature about wine. There’s probably more literature about wine than there is wine itself. And that’s a good and a bad thing. It’s good because no matter what you’re drinking, someone has written about it. It’s bad because it’s confusing. So read up, but drink while you read. It’s the only way you’re going to understand which wine writers you agree with and which ones you think are completely full of crap.

And go all over the place. Don’t just read Parker and Oz Clarke. Give some of the little guys a chance, too. You never know. You might realize that your favorite wine writer works for some obscure neighborhood paper on the Upper East (or West) Side of Manhattan.

Don’t spend too much (except every once in a while, when you should spend a lot). It’s been the trend for the last decade and a half, so I know I’m not blowing anyone’s minds here, but value wines are some of the best wines in the world. You don’t (and shouldn’t) have to spend a mint to have a great bottle of wine with dinner. Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and even areas of France and Italy all have plenty of wonderful, low-priced selections that will blow your mind.

That being said, you should definitely buy expensive wine. You deserve it! Not every week. Maybe not even every month if you can’t afford it, but you should treat yourself every once in a while. Partially because it just feels kind of cool to lay down that kind of cabbage in public for a luxury item. But also because, as a serious wine drinker, it’s a reference point. Take notes, compare and contrast, and you’ll probably enjoy it immensely and also realize all the things those cheaper bottles have going for them.

Drink what you like. Period. End of sentence. This is all you really need to know. Don’t let others judge you for what you’re drinking, and don’t judge yourself. Also: drink what you like with what you like. Have a chardonnay with that steak! Gulp some merlot with that flounder! If that’s what you dig, then that’s what you should consume. Any “wine rules” are really just suggestions. Try them out, and if you like it better your way, then do it your way!

I’d like to thank Jerry Portwood for hiring me, Charlotte Eichna for being my editor during my first year with the company and Allen Houston for putting up with me for the last several years. Thanks for reading!

Follow Josh on Twitter: @joshperilo.

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