Most people don’t drink just to get drunk. At least not once they graduate college.
So, if you’re not drinking to get drunk, why would you swill rot gut instead of something that tastes good? I guess it’s like my mother always said: “anything worth doing is worth doing right.” Although I don’t think she was talking about rum at the time.
Drinking gin and tonic? Don’t dip below Tanqueray. Margarita on the rocks? Herradura silver should be your bottom end tequila. Making a mimosa? Avoid the Andre. I know they’re a bit more expensive, but we all ought to be drinking less anyhow. Or, skip Starbucks that week!
This concept has broader applications in the kitchen. We don’t (or shouldn’t) eat just to eat. We should enjoy what’s on the plate. To enjoy what’s on the plate–that is, to have food that tastes good–you have to start with ingredients that taste good. Sounds pretty elementary. You wouldn’t buy a cheap select grade flank steak and pair it with a quality David Bruce Russian River Valley pinot noir. But have you ever bought the cheapest wine you could find for cooking? You know, the one on the very bottom shelf. In a jug. That’s not an ingredient that tastes good, and it will permeate your dish.
One thing I like to do is to cook with the wine I’m drinking. Most dishes only call for 1/2 cup or less of wine, so it won’t be missed. If whatever I’m cooking calls for a lot of wine, my rule of thumb is to use a wine that I enjoy drinking by itself–when the cooking’s done, there will usually be wine left over, after all.
This little philosophy extends beyond food, of course. Bottom line: whatever you’re drinking/eating/doing is only as good as what you’re putting into it. Use good ingredients. Be a good friend. Be a great spouse. Life’s too short for anything else.