An ‘Ordinary’ Test

I recently discovered that in terms of my own personal liquor tastes, I am a ‘connoisseur of the ordinary.’

When I walk into a bar, my personal liquor preference list is this: bourbon, scotch, rye, vodka, red wine, white wine, beer. And although I could drink bourbon with every meal, I traditionally pair certain foods with certain liquors. Red wines with steaks and Italian food, white wines with fish and chicken, rye or bourbon with sandwiches and burgers, and beer with pizza. Scotch I usually drink by itself, with a cigar or as a dessert.

But whatever the drink, when it comes to my liquors of choice, I’m not usually a top shelf kind’a guy. My taste palette favors blends over single barrel drinks. I can appreciate a good single-malt scotch or one-barrel whiskey, but I always revert back to my ‘everyman’ blends. It appears that my taste buds are about as sophisticated as reality TV. In the immortal words of Popeye, “I yam what I yam!” I’ve long ago given up trying to appease the upscale opinions of those who love looking down on us poor, working class stiffs—with our common-place tastes and our bargain basement choices. You can enjoy your French Champagne pinky-up with the rest of the guests, and I’ll have my shot and a beer with the bar staff and servers.

Recently, I decided to run a personal taste test, to see if I really do prefer cheap liquor over “the good stuff.”

I went out and bought nine different bottles of red wine. All nine were from northern California and all were Cabernet Sauvignon.

I grouped them by price. Three bottles were under 5 dollars a piece; three were between 10 and 15 dollars; and the final three were over 25 dollars. I had a friend help me with this—we opened all of the bottles at the same time and poured each into a separate glass. Then my friend kept tack of which wine was which, and I did blind taste tests of each wine in each price category. First I tasted the three under-5-dollar wines, then the next three and so on. I did this multiple times over the course of an hour to allow the wines to breath as well as to ensure my favorite picks. I cleansed my palette between tastes with small teaspoons of sorbet and drinks of water. After I picked my favorite in each price category, I then repeated the taste test to pick my overall favorite of all the wines and  guess which one was the winner? You got it! The one that I choose was from the under-5-dollar group.

So what did this prove? Well, to me it proved that if I can’t tell the difference between a 5-dollar bottle of wine and a 30-dollar bottle, why should I buy the more expensive bottle?

I’ve done this same test at bars with different vodkas and whiskeys and it works the same. Try it yourself.  You think that you have a favorite drink? Prove it to yourself and take the taste test. Some of you will be greatly surprised. And even if you’re not, it’s a fun way to enjoy a different drinking experience—something out of the ordinary.

Take it from a connoisseur!

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  • ML November 7, 2012  

    Let me say that even though I don’t always taste the difference between well vodka and Grey Goose in mixed drinks, they certainly affect my behavior differently. Well vodka might as well be roofies. You can ask my roommate.

  • Katt Kasper November 7, 2012  

    The difference is that well vodka is single distilled, and Grey Goose, Belvedere and Ketel One are all triple distilled. I couldn’t find a hangover in a bottle of Grey Goose and that’s one of the reasons that I drink it. The extra cost is worth not having to suffer the pain of regret. You might have an interesting next Point/Counter Point: Roofies VS. Vodka.

  • ML November 8, 2012  

    I’ve been both roofied and blacked out on vodka so…

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