Cheap Wine & The Wax-Coated Sticks of Brown
First, let's admit that wines in the lower price categories that are made for American consumption do tend to be flabby, sweet, simply wines with little character. They are, in my opinion, delivery vehicles for alcohol disguised as sweet fruitiness that is slippery on the tongue. The California Central Valley and Australia has been pumping out these benign, unchallenging, hollow mixtures for quite some time.
I don't think low priced wines were always such wimpy destroyers of interest. There was a time when you could expect even a lower priced Cabernet to pick up the fat left on your palate from a good rib-eye and wash it down your throat. Not so much anymore.
Now take Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Does anyone remember when you could eat around the edge of the cup and the chocolate on the edge would break off nice and crisp giving you bite of chocolate you could chew and sink your teeth in to? I remember this. I remember nibbling around the edge of the Reese's, slowing the experience and making the candy last.
Today if you try to nipple around the edge of a Reese's, there is no snap to the outter edge of chocolate. The teeth sink into the mushy chocolate like a pitchfork into quicksand. Why the change? I don't know. But I know the effect of whatever change came to the Reese's is that it's quicker and easier (in a manual way) to get the damn thing down your throat. Similar to the low priced wines.
Take the Nestle's Crunch Bar. Remember when it was really chocolaty. Remember when you could take a bite and if you let the bite sit in your mouth the chocolate would slowly melt away around the crisps, leaving a mouthful of chocolate coated crisps to chew on? Today, that same bite sits on your tongue with a distinct paraffin characteristic. It stays smooth and whole and takes a long time to melt in your mouth, influencing you to just swallow it down your gullet without any savoring of the ingredients and chocolaty goodness.
I could go on about the degradation in quality of the classic American candy bar, just as I could go on about the degradation in the low priced wines delivered to our drugstore and grocery store shelves. But what's the points?
Well, the point is that it used to be easier to find something of quality on the wine shelves that was priced to sell. Now, just as with American candy, it's harder to find that real value. It's harder to find a $6 Cabernet that doesn't offend us by assuming we just want to swallow it. It's harder to find a $1.00 candy bar that isn't a wax-coated stick of brown.