For the second week in a row, LAT media columnist David Shaw devotes his ‘Matters of Taste’ column to David Shaw’s Life Experiences With Wine. (Note to latimes.com: how about a David Shaw Wine Cellar Webcam?) You really should read the piece straight through for the full Bobo (in a David Brooksian sense) effect. But here are some highlights:
David Shaw Has Status Anxiety!
If you do a little research beforehand and ask good questions of a knowledgeable wine merchant, you should be able to buy eminently drinkable wines in that price range. But I wouldn’t take those wines to a nice restaurant or to a friend’s home or serve them to guests unless we were having something really casual – say pizza or fried chicken while we watched the Oscars or sports on TV.
David Shaw Carefully Leverages His Exquisite Wine Collection!
Given that the average cost of wines in my home cellar is probably about $40 to $45, under what circumstances and to which guests do I serve any of the handful of high-end wines I purchased at auction before prices skyrocketed – say, my ’75 Petrus or ’90 La Tache or ’67 Yquem? And when do I serve an $18 Chianti? Those can be difficult, sensitive questions.
David Shaw Asks (Himself) The Tough Questions!
There are no rigid guidelines in these situations; I tend to just go with my gut – “What do I feel like drinking tonight?” or “What will go well with what we’re likely to eat?”
David Shaw Gives Selflessly To His Friends Who Have Smaller Wine Cellars!
… [B]eing an enthusiast and a sharer, not a hoarder, I find a common thought for me with friends is, “Gee, so-and-so would really like this. Who cares what it cost or whether it’s my only bottle? Let’s drink it tonight.”
I have often bought specific wines only because I knew that certain friends would really like them.
And, after the jump, the capper… David Shaw Irritates His Dinner Companions!
We were having dinner in New York with old friends of Lucy’s, a couple who were temporarily strapped for cash because the wife was out of work. When I asked my wine questions, she said, “You pick, David, but nothing more than $60, please.”
OK. The restaurant was on the Upper West Side, and there were very few decent bottles in that price range. But there was one, at about $52, as I recall. When we’d finished it, with more food still to come, I said something like, “OK, do we want another bottle? Same thing – or something else? And if it’s something else, is $60 the absolute maximum? There’s a pretty good bottle at $65.”
They said they wanted a second bottle of the same wine, but when we left the restaurant – after the wife in the other couple had already left, a few minutes earlier, to pick up her young daughter at a friend’s house – her husband loudly berated me as we walked down the street.
“You humiliated my wife,” he said, over and over, in several different ways, with increasing vehemence. “You asked about price once. You got an answer. You didn’t have to ask again. That was unspeakably rude and insensitive.”