Guilty Pleasures

Drink what you like! We say that. Do we mean it? Is looking down on the way one drinks a sign of intelligence? Or is it a sign that you are a professional asshole? The conundrum is that indulging should be just that. An indulgence. Enjoyed and acknowledged. But tis oft our indulgences for which we feel shame. What a pity. At first I though this topic was simple. Guilty pleasures are trashy and/or cheap drinks right? But the more I thought about what makes us repent for our potable sins, the more I realized beverage guilt runs the gamut from the reputation of the beverage to manner in which it is consumed. And yet! Part of the pleasure of the ‘guilty pleasures’ is that they ARE that. They make us feel tawdry. Naughty. And human. A human other humans can connect with. Having a guilty pleasure kinda makes you cool. Ergo I want this article to free you to indulge your guilty pleasures without remorse. Without the posturing. Without the explanation that you are putting ice in your rosé ironically. I polled my podcast (The Wine Situation) listeners, and also hosted a Zoom happy hour for my somm community inviting them to bring what they considered their guilty pleasure. I broke down my findings by category: TRASHY/SILLY, BAD REPUTATION, TOO BOOZY, NOT BOOZY (HARDCORE) ENOGUH, TOO CHEAP, FREE, TOO PRICY, and SERVING STYLE. I’ll kick things off with my own guilty pleasure! Which, lest you wanted to know my shower guilty pleasure—well anything in the shower is one to be honest. But I’d double down and take a Cosmo with me any day. So wrong it is correct. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ TRASHY/SILLY These are the drinks we think of as unsophisticated—what under-aged college kids order at the bar their fake IDs got them into. Omigosh I just remembered my college love of chocolate martinis. I can’t particularly say these are still a pleasure now, but espresso martinis? We could talk. But no. I have really grown up now. My guilty pleasure is Cosmos. Granted, I doctor mine with a dash of Campari but still…give me this pink drink or give me death. Or a sentence to only drink out of subpar stemless wine glasses. Both would suck. My Cosmo does not. My Cosmo ½ oz. Campari ½ oz. Cointreau 1 ½ oz. Citron vodka 1 oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice 1 ½ oz. Cranberry juice (I’ve used everything from diet cranberry juice cocktail to 100% organic cranberry juice (never tried cranberry sauce though) it tastes great either way) Shake it all with a couple of jumbo ice cubes until it is collllllld. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Please tell me you do keep you cocktail glasses in the freezer. What did other people pick that fits the TRASHY/SILLY category? Artisanal Brew Works Warheads Sour Green Apple My friend David showed up to happy hour with—was it a beer? Was it a sour? It was a wicked color of green. And possibly wicked—he had to switch to a different beverage partway through the can. Coors Lite There were a couple of folks who named Coors Lite as their guilty pleasure. One paired his with wings and football because “I’m white trash like that”. Love his honesty. Then another person specified, “Ice cold Coors Banquet in the stubby bottle”. Well, at least he has standards. (OFT UNDESERVED) BAD REPUTATION I’m thinking about the people that are scared to admit they love Merlot , or a buttery oaky Chardonnay . Or people that think sweet wine is all bad. They are so wrong, I wrote an article on it: IT’S OKAY TO LIKE SWEET WINE . Another wine with a spotty reputation amongst wine people? Pinotage ! One of my somm friends brought a glass to happy hour. She loved it and frankly, if it is good, so am I! I try to never malign a variety out of hand. Oh, I guess I also wrote a column about that too: It's Okay to Like Pinotage . There was one call for Starbucks—she did not say precisely what her order is or why it made her guilty. But I know coffee people think their brew to be subpar. Could this also be filed under “too corporate’? Or too pricy? TOO BOOZY More than one guilty pick was tequila . Accompanied by emojis of the face that looks a bit sick and a lot drunk. Is this really a guilty pleasure, or just a pleasure that comes with regrets? NOT BOOZY ENOUGH I had a friend bring a kombucha to the happy hour. I think she felt bad she was not realllllly drinking. I assured her that her dedication to fermentation went the distance even if it only had .5% abv. TOO CHEAP I still love basic b*#ch Ravenswood . It was the wine that sold my bestie on wine. I still love the goth-y label. And Zinfandel will always have a place in my heart. Another too cheap pick? My gal Jiaqi showed up at happy hour with cheap Korean beer she adores. More power to her. FREE My friend Erik came to happy hour with sake leftover from an industry tasting. Not normally the biggest sake drinker, he admitted that he was drinking it out of monetary convenience. One friend cited Wild Turkey 101 bought with Southwest Airlines drink tickets, in the Before Times. I mean if the free tickets are given they must be used, right? TOO PRICY Think of those times you opened what you think you were supposed to save for a special occasion. Friends Teresa and Lynn showed up to happy hour with Comtes de Champagne and caviar—breaking out the good stuff on Thursday night! They were two happy girls. SERVING STYLE Maybe you like it out of the wrong glass? Maybe you hold your glass wrong (spoiler I am terrible at remembering to stick to the stem—to the point that I sometimes employ was I call ‘the claw’ where I hold the glass by it’s base. Otherwise my carefree fingers find their way to the bowl. But then we have our iced wine lovers. Well their guilt could be outdone by what was (to me) the most shocking guilty pleasure I discovered. At somm happy hour my friend Rebecca talked for a minute about what a delightful rosé she was about to drink. Then she…wait for it…pulled out a can of La Croix and added it to the glass. I was gobsmacked. Another guilty serving style might just be how you garnish. One of my podcast listeners described his hands down bespoke margarita but…read through for the garnish: 4 oz. Tapatio Tequila (native yeast fermentation) 2 oz. Cointreau, 1 oz. lime .5 oz. simple, shaken on ice poured into salted rim glass with fresh ice. GARNISH WITH TACOS. AMOUNT Sometimes overindulgence is the guilt-inducer. One of my listeners began with a choice at first bespoke: Aviation cocktail with Empress gin , Bombay Sapphire , Luxardo cherry liqueur , great quality crème de violet, an a Luxardo cherry in an iced martini glass…as I read that I wondered if he’d somehow misread the question until I saw that his preference was that the glass be “of ginormous proportions”. Well-played. WHERE Shower wine? All about it. I also somehow realized as goth teenager living in my family house’s third floor, I loved the cigarettes I’d sneak out my window. The risk (both of being caught and falling) factor made it extra pleasurable. But I hope drinking out the window isn’t your habit. Getting tipsy outside your window is definitely not something I’d encourage. WHEN One of my friends showed up at happy hour with a wine he felt guilty about because he was supposed to save it for someone else. But drinking a wine “too soon” is also something that might inspire guilt if you think it would do better with age. I’ve popped Barolos far too soon and felt the pleasure of tannic torture for not letting them take their time. All the same I kinda love Barolo in all it’s guises young and old. When could also refer to time of day. Breakfast wine? Also, I remember hearing Aisha Tyler describe how when she was going through her divorce a finger of whiskey and a cigarette earrrrrrly in the morning were…just what she needed at the time. She didn’t become a drunk or pick up a smoking habit, but at that time they just felt right. Maybe don’t try this at home. IN CONCLUSION Have a shower Cosmo. Have a shower Scotch . Or have some caviar and Champagne . And while I personally wouldn’t encourage you to pour La Croix into your rosé, if you love it, feel free to take it in the shower—everything gets diluted in there anyway. Enjoy your drinks how, when, and where you want. If the guilt factor makes it all the more fun, go ahead, feel it. You don’t have to though. We all have tastes. If the drink tastes good to you, then you have good taste. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: All I Want for Valentine’s Day Is Some Skin Contact Bridgerton, Beverage by Beverage Make Your Own Wine Winter Whites Wine For Kamala Women in Castles Down by the Loire River Whole Wine - Pairing Optional Goth Wines for the Perennially October Soul Back to School You can also listen to Ellen's podcast , The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! With Lisa Warr-King Packer Wine Situation Final Five! With Rebecca Rose Phillips


St. Émilion Grand Cru 2008

Is Merlot Monday a thing? Okay so this is only 80% Merlot (20% Cab Franc) but it is working for me. Smells like purple plums got inspired to write poetry about the cedar trees and violets blooming in their backyard (plums DO have backyards) so they naturally whipped out number two pencils, lit a pipe, and chilled out to write in situ. The plums, the pencils, the trees and flora, the birds and bees, you get all this in here. And soy sauce. I can’t explain it. Mayhaps I’ll go old-school and give it the ol’ WSET analysis:
Eye: medium ruby teasing at the beginnings of garnet at the rim. Thick slow tears.
Nose: medium plus intensity of plums, cassis, cedar, violet, tobacco and dare I say...garrigue‽ in Merlot? Who knew.
Palate: dry, medium acidity, medium fine-grained tannins, medium plus alcohol (albeit nowadays we would have to call it high as it is 14.1 so just barely high), medium body medium plus flavors echoing the nose with the added savory soy note that is quite compelling. Finish is medium plus.
It may be too late for new year resolutions but mine is now to not neglect Merlot. Merlot Monday’s it is!
— 2 years ago

Paul, Daniel P. and 16 others liked this

Alice et Olivier De Moor

Bourgogne-Chitry Chardonnay 2018

Jeremy Shanker

Guilty pleasure wine — 3 years ago

Brendan, Rob and 9 others liked this
Joe Davant

Joe Davant

I just had this wine and laughed at how accurate your note was.

Jean Foillard

Côte du Py Morgon Gamay 2018

The upper class of Morgon. My guilty pleasure! Dense and deep fruity. Rich and nuanced aromatic range. A pleasure wine accessible now that will age in a Burgundy style within 5-8 years .. the distance between the two being the point of balance that fascinates my taste buds the most.

La classe supérieure du Morgon !
Fruité dense et profond. Gamme aromatique riche et nuancée. Vin de plaisir accessible dès maintenant qui vieillira dans un style bourguignons d’ici 5-8 ans.. la distance entre les deux étant le point d’équilibre qui passionnent les plus les papilles. Mon pêché mignon ❤️
— 3 years ago

Tom, Peter and 28 others liked this
Peter Sultan

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The penthouse of Beaujolais! @Romain Fitoussi
Mario Vaillancourt

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@Romain Fitoussi un de mes favoris en Bojo aussi

Empress 1908

Original Indigo Gin

Earl grey. Magnificent color. — 2 years ago

Brian, LM and 4 others liked this


Comtes de Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne Chardonnay 2008

Antonio Galloni

Happy New Year! A great bottle, just epic. Obviously very a young, but still magnificent! — 2 years ago

Aravind, Jeroen and 60 others liked this
Mike R

Mike R Influencer Badge

Thank you for this - have a few but going to wait a few years to try one - happy new year sir
Mario Vaillancourt

Mario Vaillancourt Premium Badge

Can’t wait to drink the 2008 too, should be great. Happy new year!
Alan Weinberg

Alan Weinberg

I’m opening one tonight! Happy new year.


Douro Touriga Nacional Rosé 2018

Rosé with interest. Peppered dried flowers sprinkled on me as I stand in a pebbly brook of nectarine juice rapids but there are orchids floating by and a tangerine sky. — 3 years ago

Filip, Paul and 12 others liked this
Paul T- Huntington Beach

Paul T- Huntington Beach

Are the Trout biting this time of year in your pebbly brook?
Ellen Clifford

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@Paul T- Huntington Beach so far I’ve avoided the angry trout

Tequila Ocho

Magueyera Tequila Reposado 2015

Basil, cucumber and lime gimlets .. made with Ocho Reposado 🥃🥃 — 3 years ago

Tom, Ron and 6 others liked this

Dassai Sake Brewery

Dassai 23 Junmai Daiginjo Yamaguchi Sake

Alder Yarrow

Many years ago I decided that unlike wine which can so clearly evoke place, sake tasting notes were much more evocative of time - specifically a moment in time and all the atmosphere that comes with it. To wit: one of my favorite sakes this Dassai “23” reminds me of that moment when the year’s first snowfall has completely melted in the next day’s sun. Wonderfully silky notes of rainwater, malted milk, white flowers and cooked taro root linger beautifully with a great purity. The 23 here refers to the fact that the rice has been polished to 23% of its former mass, far in excess of the 50% required by its Daiginjo designation. This is a lot harder than it sounds, and quite a feat when it comes to sake. Sake seduction to be sure. — 2 years ago

Jason, Dan and 5 others liked this

Château des Tours

Réserve Côtes du Rhône Red Rhone Blend 2015

Beautiful flavor and balance. I almost feel guilty drinking this so soon. Loads of pomegranate, cranberry, dark black cherry and beautiful all spice with bright, forward acid. Wishing I had saved this for Thanksgiving. They were meant for each other. — 3 years ago


Espresso Style Martini

Okay I unabashedly love sweet coffee treats and this is one with booze. It’s my preteen iced-mocha-cappucino whatever we added sugar to WITH booze and it is delicious. Come at me. — 3 years ago

Daniel, S.S. and 15 others liked this


Great can design. I'm sure it would be delightful!☕
Ellen Clifford

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@Paul T- Huntington Beach 4.5, it’s practically just coffee
Ellen Clifford

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@Trixie it actually is so tasty!