From Natty Light to Nebbiolo

The recent release of Apothic Brew got me thinking about one of the first red wines I liked: Apothic Crush. That conjured up memories of the other fine beverages I used to enjoy. Ugh.

Believe me, I'm not trying to shit on my earlier drink choices. They're not all bad. In fact, I would still drink many of them if the occasion called for it (i.e. at a bachelorette party). Rather, I want beginners to know that you don't need magical super powers to know and love good wine. All you require is a sense of curiosity and a strong willingness to try new things. And for the experts out there? Here's a gentle reminder that there's room for everyone in the world of wine.

Now, please join me for a joy ride through my booze journey from beer to whiskey to my beloved, wine. One thing that's missing from this story? Gimmicks like cold brew-flavored wine. (Seriously, who thought of that? I can't.)

The Cheap Beer Era

We don't need to get into what age I was but let's just say my first alcoholic drink was 151 rum and Coca-Cola. It was... not smart or delicious. But after that, I drank mostly beer, mostly in the woods, college dorms, and D.C. dive bars. Why the woods? Don't forget: I grew up in Northeastern PA! Bush parties were life when I was home for the summer.

My beer of choice was Natty Light but I also enjoyed PBR, Rolling Rock, and Miller Light. This phase lasted through my early 20s and overlapped a bit with the whiskey days. I can still get down with a cold one on occasions like St. Patrick's Day or aforementioned bachelorette parties. (Likelihood that I shotgun a cheap beer this summer in Fort Lauderdale? High.)

The Whiskey Era

Ah, the whiskey era. This was a wonderful phase of life. It was my early to mid-20s when I could be found in Adams Morgan basically every weekend. I also got a real job, which meant I could put down the Natty Light and pick up a whiskey and Diet or a 7 & 7. If I was feeling fancy, Crown Royal on the rocks.

Bourbon was a notable omission from this phase. I still prefer Canadian whiskey, which is apparently making a comeback, but I also enjoy Scotch whiskey now, too. Unfortunately most whiskey gives me a bit of a headache or I would drink it more often.

This was also when I started to try wine. After a horrible New Year's Eve experience with a Shiraz from a kangaroo brand you all know, I swore off red wine and decided oaked California Chardonnay was my favorite. If you've been following along on this blog, you know that this is now my least favorite wine. (I'm trying to like it though!)

The Wine Era

Think that gets us to present day? Not so fast! First I had to make my way through some interesting choices. To be exact, I had to drink a lot of boxed wines, two-buck Chuck, and $10 magnums. My fave at the time? Pinot Grigio.

While there are captivating examples coming from Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trento-Alto Aldige, I promise you I was not drinking those. (I do now though!) During this time, my very funny friend Corey said that "Barefoot Pinot Grigio tastes like Friday night to Meg." But then, something changed.

I realized that there was Pinot Grigio in the "Italy" section at Safeway. I had never been down that aisle before. Things started to snowball... "Maybe I should go to the red wine aisle, too." "This Apothic Crush looks okay." "My sister told me to try Rex & Goliath Pinot Noir." "Oh wow, I like red wine." As they say, "the rest is history."

Want to know more about this Nebbiolo? I'll share my notes on Instagram.


Piles of books, a WSET2 certification, and many, many bottles of wine later, my favorite wines are Beaujolais and Riesling, but I like a broad range. Give me an inky Vranac or a crisp Vinho Verde—I'm happy with almost anything. While I'll periodically splurge on something like Nebbiolo or Champagne, most of the bottles I buy and drink are below $25. The moral of the story? You can transition from flavorless beer to interesting, yet affordable wines just like I did. And you don't have to become a wine snob along the way. (You guys would tell me if I was snobby, right??)

One day there might be a new era, but for now, I think this is the best phase yet.

Kicking off your wine journey? Here are five tips to get you started.