We live in a house that was built in 1910 and thus incorporates a cellar just outside our basement door where home-canned goods, etc. used to be stored. We cleaned it out, but my wife described it as "dank and nasty" so for the past couple of years I've used it to store all my fishing gear in one place.
One day, I was struck by a couple of thoughts. I hear people talking about "appreciating" and drinking wine all the time. Recognizing what I might be missing out on (I'm a beer guy) I realized that the cellar would be the perfect place to store a collection of fine wines for enjoyment at appropriate times.
So, I got out the Skilsaw and the jigsaw and crafted a rack out of 2x4's that will hold over 100 bottles of wine on their sides, as I understand that's how they're supposed to be stored.
I got my collection started with two bottles, but I'm hoping there might be some wine enthusiasts (maybe some of you guys from California?) that might be able to steer me the right way in completing my collection so I can throw open the doors to the cellar and have visitors stare in awe at my classic and varied collection.
I started with these two "nouveau-vintage" wines, both originating from Modesto, California.
The Thunderbird boasts on the label that it is "The American Classic" so thought it would be an impressive addition to my cellar. The label also describes it as "Citrus Wine With Natural Flavors And Caramel Color." I've found its "bouquet" to be "robust," "citrusty" and "lively." These are terms I picked up from a Wikipedia article on wine-tasting.
The Night Train Express is also billed as boasting "Citrus Wine And Natural Flavors."
It has a volatile, charming bouquet and is red instead of white like the Thunderbird. Jake Blues, in the film classic The Blues Brothers,
referred to Night Train as, "a mean wine."
As far as the labels go, I would have to give the edge to the striking graphics of the Night Train Express. I think it bears a direct correlation to the product as the morning after I enjoyed a bottle, I felt like I'd been hit by the very train depicted on the front of the bottle.
The Thunderbird label has kind of a Germanic, Art-Deco look to it and probably appeals more to artistic types than true wine afficionados.
Alcohol content for both wines is a demure 17.5% I was surprised to not find a cork under the metal cap: both incorporate a screw-on type cap.
At the time of purchase, I hadn't done my research and failed to pick up a "palate cleanser." I think people usually use some kind of crackers. I found that Jalapeno Cheet-O's worked very well, thoroughly ridding the palate of remnants of the red Night Train before switching over to the Thunderbird.
During the tasting, both wines were served over ice, as the label on the Thunderbird suggests "Serve Cold" and the label on the Night Train Express advises "Serve Very Cold."
These wines were a little pricey. I've had some older gentlemen at the prison where I work tell me the optimum way to "stretch" both these wines is to combine them half and half with a grape-flavored drink mix such as Kool-Aid. This results in a beverage called a "Shake 'Em Up."
Being from rural Missouri and having no real contact with those who truly appreciate fine wines like Night Train and Thunderbird, if anybody has any advice on where I should go next in completing my collection, please let me know. It seems like there are hundreds of wines out there and in order to complete an impressive collection, I'm going to have to start looking beyond cool labels and alcohol content when choosing wines in the future.
I've noted that not very many gas stations carry wine, but a lot of pharmacies and grocery stores do. I'm kind of afraid to buy wine in a liquor store because I feel that when I'm walking out with my selection, the knowledgeable clerk might be laughing behind my back, thinking, "What a fool! I can't believe he thinks that's a good wine!"
The clerks at grocery stores and pharmacies are a lot less judgmental. When I purchased the Night Train at CVS, the clerk gave me a knowing wink, cradled the bottle like it was a baby, carefully slipped it into its protective paper bag covering, handed it to me and said, "Don't leave this laying in the parking lot out back." I appreciated her sarcastic wit: she almost made it seem like I might actually do such a thing.