Good Wine and Bad Tattoos

You’re tempted to ask the guy at the liquor store for his best under-fifteen dollar bottle of wine but you hesitate because you’re afraid of the Hard Cow Effect.The Hard Cow Effect is when someone sells you on an item which turns out to be vastly different than the sales pitch promised it to be. And when I say vastly different I don’t mean in a “you expected bran flakes but got fudge instead” sort of way. I mean in more of a “you asked for Disney World but got military school” sort of way. Yes, the HCE is always a huge let down.

The Hard Cow Effect gets its name from my friend Dave, whom I met while traveling in Europe. One night in Dresden, Dave split a bottle of whiskey with a skin-head tattoo artist who talked him into getting a tattoo. What could possibly go wrong? The tats on the artist’s face looked pretty cool and the thug was oddly convincing after half a bottle of Jack. My friend couldn’t quite remember which tattoo he picked out, or the artist’s name, or most of the ordeal for that matter, but he definitely remembers the skin-head telling him that the piece would make him look like a Jedi Pimp. Just before passing out on the table, Dave remembered the first touch of the needle and how excited he was to be the first Jedi Pimp in his family.

The next day we made it all the way to breakfast before I asked him how his tattoo turned out. The dim light of remembrance lit his face and he quickly pulled back his sleeve. First the right. Nope. Then the left. There it was: A strangely effeminate-looking monster emblazed on his forearm with the words “HARD COW” printed directly beneath it. In a whiskey haze, the artist meant to adorn the tattoo with the words “HARD CORE” but apparently felt the booze most during the writing portion of the piece and his penmanship wasn’t at its best during the “R” and “E” section of his work.

Dave was devastated after the skin-head gave him such high expectations. Likewise, every time the store clerk pontificates the virtues of that new wine, you just can’t buy it for fear of the big let-down, the disappointing sting of the Hard Cow Effect. Not to worry, this week’s recommendation will leave you feeling like a Jedi Pimp.

Argiolas Costamolino 2010, Vermentino ($14.99): You’ve probably never even heard of a Vermentino so if anything reeks of Hard Cow Effect it’s this bottle. But don’t let the strange name stop you. Its acidity and pineapple and honey flavors make it not just super tasty, but something you can pair with anything from fish to pasta to Asian.

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