When I arrived back in the United States, a little over five years ago, I started to look for a job. The first place I applied was a wine shop called Total Wines, in McLean. This place was unbelievable! Thousands of different bottles: malbecs from Argentina,; tempranillos from Spain; pinot noirs from Oregon and South Africa; my old friends the red and velvety Pommards and the glorious white Corton Charlemagne. Cabernets, chardonnays, champagnes, dessert wines. They were located next door to a bookstore and I would spend three to four hours in those two places, like Robin Williams on "Moscow on the Hudson", a bit dizzy at the amazing variety of wonderful things to choose from, which led to total indecision.
In applying for a job to Total Wines I made a fatal mistake. After almost 20 years away from the country I did not realize how much things had changed. First of all, I was certain thta I would get a reply, even if negative. Second, I felt that a well educated person, who knew about wines and could interact with multiple nationalities, often in their own language, would be a shoo-in. I sent my letter and my normal C.V., mentioning my sojourns at Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Tulsa, Oklahoma and my knowledge about Burgundies, black rooster chiantis and South American wines. I waited confidently... for an answer that never came.
I eventually found another job, one for which I was less suitable, and kept going to Total Winess as a client. I still go there once a week. After some time I could not refrain my curiosity and asked one of the Wine Consultants at the shop about the lack of answer from the organization. The person answered: "Well, I am not sure, but they most probably felt you were over-qualified and that you would not be a "normal" member of the team. Maybe they saw your age as a limiting factor and thought you could not lift a 30-pound box of wine bottles ( I can but not so many). As labor regulations concerning age discrimination are very strict here, they probably chose not to answer. Today", he added, "an answer to a job application is not really the rule, as it used to be in the old, more polite days".
Anyway, I still go to Total Wine, in McLean, and I am still awed at the diversity of wine offerings they have. However, since my job (when I had it) only gave me a modest income, I started to hunt for good, $10 a bottle, wines. Although this became increasingly difficult, it was and is still possible. Not great wines, mind you, but good wines. Fortunately, I have always been a fan of Burgundies, rather than Bordeauxs. It is easier to find a reasonably good, unexpensive Burgundy than it is to find a reasonably good, unexpensive Bordeaux.
Today, to start with my notes, I would like to recommend to you a good, honest wine from the Rhone area, bottled by one of the oldest and most reputable houses in France, J. Vidal Fleury. This Cote de Ventoux, at $10.99 (it used to be $8.50 before the dollar started to weaken, two years ago), should be opened for at least for an hour before drinking. This will give it time to grow into a rather decent cousin of smooth reds that cost five or more times as much.
If paired with a good chilli or a meat loaf with potatoes, it will become almost great.