All wines by the bottle go for cost at Vic's Minneapolis, a riverfront bar with a wraparound deck designed for one thing only: drankin'. All the wines! A list of about a hundred bottles, all at or around the same price you'd pay at the liquor store, rather than the thrice-inflated prices most places sell for to ensure a healthy profit.* This seems like one of the secrets of the city that should be hollered from the rooftops whilst brandishing a waiter's corkscrew and a half-drunk bottle of Pinot. And as a lifelong local wino, I had no idea.
But these sorts of secrets are the expertise of Allison Wagner, otherwise known as The Savvy Lush. She writes a wine blog "for slobs, snobs & swells" — 5,000 or so daily followers who want to know about good wine that's also cheap.
While her sassy writing style and self-professed "sailor's mouth" appeals to the "classy ladies who say 'fuck' a lot" in all of us, she says she's found that the professional wine world tends to be an old-boy's network. And the world of wine can be filled with politics, insidery-ness, idiot savants, and the ones in every bunch who want to "flex their wine-knowledge dicks." And really, she wants no part of any of that, which is of course the appealing thing about her.
She does it because:
"As an enthusiast, I searched in vain for a wine blog that could recommend bang-for-your-buck bottles in language that wasn’t precious and complicated. I get it — wine itself can be incredibly, marvelously complex. But the pleasures and benefits of wine drinking are simple: This one tastes good. This one tastes bad. This one is fantastic with pad Thai and makes my knees tingle. Is that so hard? All these wine blogs, wine apps, wine books, and none of them spoke to my relationship with wine. So the Savvy Lush was born."
Back at Vic's I suggest we order something off my comfort-zone list of super citrusy, high-minerality Sauv Blancs and she says, "Do you like Soave?"
I don't know if I like Soave, and before I know it, she's stealthily massaged me away from my comfort zone and we're parked in front of a chilling bottle of Italian Soave, which is neither sweet nor highly mineral or acidic, but nicely balanced and perfect easy drinking for summertime. And it was $18, about what I'd regularly spend for two glasses elsewhere.
She learned to drink wine in Italy, where she studied as "a young broad abroad," and while she wasn't technically of age, she called it a "gray area," where everyone of a reasonable age was expected to sit around up in the mountains and be civilized and sociable, over wine.
"It's always been bout the enjoyment for me."
Not into wine yet? She can help you get there:
"Wine relaxes you, helps you take your time and enjoy the simple things in life. It’s there when you feel happy; it’s there when you feel sad. It can be celebratory; it can be intimate. Without question, wine has improved my life experience."
Learn more about vino, or just go for an entertaining read. And know that the wines she chooses are almost always under 15 bucks, and the "Skank of the Month" is under $6. Don't worry, classy folks: She's also got a "Snob of the Month" pick, where things are allowed to ring in above the $15 threshold.