The Forbidden Wine (or “How Can I Drink This Without My Wife Finding Out?”)

Leaving me alone in the house with an expensive bottle of newly acquired Brunello is like throwing a Dungeons & Dragons nerd in the closet with an unopened Wrath of Ashardolon board game (yes that includes all forty-two plastic hero and monster figurines). Immediately, the wine-lubed gears in my brain begin to turn, plotting a way for me to open and drink the bottle, which my wife has clearly reserved for a special occasion. Could I drink the bottle when she’s out, get rid of the empty, then pretend to know nothing of the missing wine as if we never had it in the first place? No, that only seems to work for little things like leftover chocolate cake. It clearly didn’t work with our tax return money.

The little devil on my left shoulder suddenly sounded so much more reasonable than the goody-two-shoes angel on my right and I began to formulate more complex schemes. Maybe, just maybe, I could pull off some kind of an elaborate switch. I’ll take the cheap red blend out of the bottle and switch it with the Brunello! Then—“Should we drink the cheap blend this evening, honey?” That could work…for a while. But eventually we’d entertain and I’d get sent to retrieve the Brunello. I’d have to make that long, gloomy walk to the wine closet feeling every bit like I did in fourth grade on that long, gloomy walk to the principal’s office. Then, at the table, as I felt my face getting red and my wife’s eyes boring into me, our guests would politely talk about how they remembered the Brunello tasting so much more complex the last time they drank it .

No, until I think of a more brilliant David Copperfield-like scam, I’m stuck here in the house with the coveted wine, always within reach but always forbidden. So close yet so far away. It is for this reason that finding a great sub-twenty dollar wine is so fun: No scams are required to drink them. This week’s recommendation is priced to be enjoyed on any occasion—even without the wife’s permission.

Cannonball 2007, Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.99): A dark, well-rounded wine from California. I tasted dark fruit and smokiness with not too much oak. It’s very big but still controlled and complex–like the retired football player who becomes a concert pianist. Cannonball is good on its own or with a juicy steak.

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