You are reading a wine column that was written by a non-expert: a rank novice who has never worked in the wine industry, or the restaurant industry; who has never been to France (outside of Charles de Gaulle) or to California (outside of L.A.); and who, frankly, has never written a column of any kind, for any newspaper, at any time before now.
That being said, I am Monte Belmonte — a radio host on 93.9 The River with an extremely tiny bit of hyper-local notoriety. I lead a charmed life, where people pay way more attention to what I think than they should. Which means if, while drinking wine with a Gazette columnist at Filo’s in Northampton (which is BYOW BTW) you gather enough liquid courage to suggest to her that you want to write a wine column, you may find yourself with just such an opportunity.
All that being said, I don’t know nothing about wine. And yes, I mean that double-negative literally. About 9 years ago, I decided to institutionalize drinking wine into my radio show and created a weekly feature about wine. The basic premise is: smart people from the wine industry have me taste wine and I make juvenile jokes about how Cabernet Franc smells reminiscent of manure-spreading season in Hadley. And yet somehow, after all the bad puns and poop jokes, I realize I do know a thing or two about wine. But really, just one or two things.
One thing: if you are someone who knows you like wine, but are afraid of it because it’s too fancy or snooty or French sounding — don’t be. Wine is grown by farmers. You know some farmers, right? Sure, some of the wine farmers wear berets or are employed by the guy who directed The Godfather, but most wine should be looked at no differently than Wally Czajkowski’s Hadley Grass or Swaz’s potatoes. It’s delicious stuff farmers worked really hard to make for everybody. And that everybody includes you.
Sorry, not you kids.
Thing two: there is a time and a place for REALLY expensive wine. But if you’re into learning about that kind of wine, you already have a subscription to Decanter and should STOP JUDGING ME ALREADY! I said this was my first attempt at a wine column. My goal for us “normals” who know we like wine, but don’t want to remortgage our livers to buy it, is to find really good and interesting wine — cheap. Not dirt cheap, but as-cheap-as-you-can-get-and-still-be-delicious cheap. And that is usually around $15. Maybe sometimes we’ll splurge, Okay?
For right now, I am drinking a $9.99 bottle of B&G sparkling Blanc de Blanc. It is delicious and cheap. “Blanc de Blanc” is a reference to when voice actor Mel Blanc had to voice both Porky Pig and Bugs Bunny in a squabble. Or it might mean white wine from white grapes as opposed to Blanc de Noir meaning white wine from dark grapes. Champagne is often Blanc de Blanc or Blanc de Noir. But B&G is not Champagne. It’s sparkling wine from France. Big difference: legally and in price.
Try the B&G Blanc de Blanc: good acidity, a little lemony, not bready like my favorite types of sparkling wine, but still solid for 10 bucks.
The B&G Sparkling Rosé, however, is gross and tastes like cough medicine. Don’t get that one. Or do. What do I know about your tastes?
I do think people should drink more sparkling wine, and not just on New Year’s Eve … maybe everyday? Or at least every week. You’ll feel like your life is in perpetual celebration mode when that cork pops off. But we’ll save this for another wine column. (If they let me write another wine column!)
Editor’s Note: You’re in, buddy. Check out another Monte Belmonte Wines on Sept. 21, and contact Monte @MonteBelmonte.