Yesterday was one of those Mondays when we needed a treat at the end of the day. “Surprise me,” said the text from my mate. That’s a tall order, so I stopped by our favorite bipolar wine merchant in Marina del Rey. We affectionately refer to him as Angry Man. As in, “I’m going to buy some wine from Angry Man.”
Now, let me put in my 2 cents about wine merchants. I’ve noticed they tend to be a cranky bunch. I think it’s because they open a wineshop with the hopes and dreams and excitement about sharing their love all things grape with the public only to have people turn up demanding, “What do you have that’s under 10 bucks and good?” The merchant is left thinking, “I didn’t open my dream shop to compete with effin’ Trader Joe’s.” So their good stuff gets pushed to the back of the store while they end up promoting the cheap stuff at the front. It’s like opening a cheese shop where people only want to buy Velveeta.
But I also know that people who love wine can appreciate good sippers across the price spectrum. (My friend, wine and spirits writer Jeffery Lindenmuth, is particularly good at sniffing out great, food-friendly value wines–check out his roundup of box wines.)
I’ve also found that nothing makes a cranky wine merchant’s face light up like the words, “I’d like to buy a case today.” That was the case a few months ago, when I went in to purchase a case of French Cahors malbec (the so-called “legendary black wine of France,” which my mate had discovered at Angry Man’s shop). Angry Man only had about 6 bottles on hand, so I asked him to recommend something in a similar vein (and price). He was practically giddy as he offered up a bottle of Pascual Toso Malbec from Argentina. “This is a fantastic wine for the price,” he said of the $15 bottle. Sold!
When we sampled the wine, we were immediately seduced by its rich, plummy, berry qualities. It became our new favorite wine. And yesterday a bottle of it paired beautifully with the leftover filet mignon with Bordelaise sauce I brought home from school.
Thank you, Angry Man.