In New Haven, the idea of Dionysian delight comes in plastic bottles and boxes. But in this little Elm City, there’s a beacon of hope for the fading sommelier creeping underneath the salacious beer-craving post-adolescent in all of us. From the outside, Wine Thief looks like a “paradiso del vino” — an urban oasis: spacious and bright, neatly assorted with all the shades of burgundy, rosé and marigold. After a fake tour of the store, I did some “thinking” and pretended to know what I was buying, expecting the best four wines on the planet from a grab bag of glass bottles. After sipping some wine and analyzing its complex flavors, I present to you a list that would make Dionysus anxious for a glass of red:
Venta de Don Quijote (2008, Sauvignon Blanc)
The taste and bouquet just scream of Spain, but the land of the ancestors disappoints. Too acidic. How can something that smells like a prison toilet taste so much like really bad Mott’s Apple Juice? It’s like your Aunt left some juice boxes in the fridge after your third cousin’s birthday blowout and tried to pass them off to you as high-class hard cider. Cheap and ungrateful. My editor says: “Disgusting.”
Barbera d’Alba (2008, Barbera)
Italia brings me this tangy flow of grape juice, staining my teeth with tannins as if I just took a bite of blackberries. Speaking of berries, the wine also contains a very fragrant smell, like a fresh bushel straight out of my grandmother’s imaginary farm. Greatness. If you’re trying to look classy on a college budget, for eight bucks you will be the dandiest chum in the back lot of SigEp.
Il Bacio (2008, Chardonnay)
I have been duped. What was supposed to be a light, fruity flavor whetting my palate instead hit my tongue like a leaky car battery. What else should I expect from a wine with a screw cap? Might as well be cooking wine. A second opinion confirms my assessment: “It’s terrible. It sucks. I want to break this effing bottle and throw it out the window.”
Terracita (2008, Tempranillo)
Back to Spain again. This is the epitome of earthy, cheap vino. It’s bearable, albeit the holistic beverage occasionally overwhelms the senses like an incense-filled, spiced-out hippie broth. Regardless, it beats slapping a bag of Franzia to the lips, anytime.
My findings at Wine Thief lead to one major conclusion: College is not for wine, and will never be. Enologists should never step foot in New Haven. Stay in Napa, Bordeaux and in cozy Chilean haciendas amid exquisite vineyards. From now on, I’ll just pocket my $8, throw on my ink-stained Latin American jeans and cuddle my plastic Dubra bottle till nevermore.