An Easy Wine

Similar to a bag of Doritos, "slut wines" have some variety, striking packaging to contemplate, moderate satisfaction, and an obscure next-day lack of fulfillment. There's a place for a simple, sugary red, but there's room for so much more.
10/25/2012 07:17 pm ET Updated Dec 25, 2012
pouring red wine into the wine...
pouring red wine into the wine...

There's a saying around our house for the nights when we want a wine that's easy. An easy wine as opposed to one that may hold promise with patience and coaxing, pleasure by the second glass or subsequent night.

The slutty red, as we like to call it, conjures up -- metaphorically -- a pleasant and obvious wine that you and your mouth click with instantly. The pleasure is immediate, not especially cerebral, and of the style that invites laughter, warmth and easy accompaniment to just about anything else going on at the moment. Does the slutty red, white, or rose have a style, in wine speak? If it's red, it's in the sweet spot so many wine chemists aim to hit with much on today's market. When we talk about the slutty style, we're referring to mass produced, sweetened, sloppy wines, which come cheap. These can be found anywhere, often stacked, and are almost always interchangeable with dozens of other bottles in a display area. About all to distinguish one from the rest are picture and name variants. There's a good chance of an animal theme or reference on the label.

Red versions are soft, round, with a little more residual sugar lurking than not, mostly up-front and often vapid, not especially memorable. In short, pleasurable for the one night and often in cute, colorful, soulless packaging.

Slutty whites are vaguely satisfying -- at least during that first night -- in much the same aimless way. There's a lot to smell, and with no nod to subtlety. Aromas pummel the room and senses like a vase of stinky flowers set in a tiny foyer. Slutty white wine -- like red -- is often gussied up with sugar and mock oak as flavor components. This is juice not from unique, high quality grapes but instead from some starter material with additives to mask average grapes and subsequent juices.

Slutty rose takes a now hip notion of light, dry, fresh wine and makes it into a heavy, murky, off-sweet monster. This is perhaps the preeminent slutty wine, especially in appearance. Take a pristine, limpid wine and make a caricature of it with a pile of face paint and stiletto heels. Don't forget cute branding, label and concept.

Similar to consuming a bag of Doritos, there's some variety, flavor, striking packaging to contemplate, moderate satisfaction, and an obscure next-day lack of fulfillment.

Is there really any problem with wines like this, however we drink them and whatever we call them? That may depend on a few things.

For those who make, market, and sell the wines, there's not much problem at all. This is one very popular category of wine. For those who consume them, there may be a downside to drinking only these styles. Philosophers will argue that ultimately, wine is a beverage of pleasure and that anything from any source made by any means still qualifying technically as wine liked by consumers should be accepted and left alone. I believe there is an issue if highly manipulated wine of one homogenized style from a pool of juice is the only wine to ever pass our lips.

Drinking exclusively this style misses the mark of experiencing variety and diversity, and also of increased potential pleasure, among other things.

There will be advocates of one red or one white for all occasions. Brand loyalty isn't unusual. Some consumers stick to one beer, one cigarette, one cake mix, one flavor profile, one red wine.

Wine is potentially unique in the number of grape types available, the variety of places of origin, and numerous other factors individuating one bottling from the next. That's part of the draw, the mystique of bottles. To consolidate it as a product with the end result a safe, denuded shadow of what it could be is about as exciting as having bar-b-que sauce on everything we have for dinner every night of the week. The flavors might be bold but for most mouths, even the best cloying sauces become too much in time.

There's a place, in our house and yours, for a simple, sugary red for tonight.

But there's room for so much more.