Drinking the Bottom Shelf: André Blush California Pink Champagne

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor store...so you don’t have to.


Sorry to have missed you guys last week. I was caught up in a celebration that has me in the mood to talk about sparkling wine—André Blush California Pink Champagne, to be specific. We'll get to that in a couple paragraphs. First let's remind ourselves of my good fortune.

I've heard stories of men who are intimidated by smarter, more successful, better-looking women. I'm not certain these men actually exist, but if they do, they are idiots. My girlfriend—Bottom Shelf research coordinator Emily—is my superior in nearly all quantifiable fields. She's younger, prettier, healthier, and smarter than I am. I'm a bit handier with tuna melts and Run-DMC lyrics, but otherwise she's the star of our show, and I'm fine with that.

In fact, I prefer being the junior partner. My limitations are fairly well fixed by now. I don't mean that I've given up on self-improvement—just last week I did a push-up and found a new favorite beer—but this late in my game, most of my changes are going to be cosmetic, and Crest doesn't make a neurological White Strip. So my best hope is to glom on to someone who has a few more sparks left in her flint.

Back to the pink André. Emily got her master's in education last Friday. She's going to teach high school science and she's going to be great at it. Watching her walk across the stage to get her fake diploma somewhere around the 11-hour mark of the commencement ceremony filled me with pride and lust and a panicky resolve to trick her into marriage before she gets her PhD. I'm lucky and stupid, but I'm not stupid enough to think I'll luck into marrying a doctor. I need to wrap this up within the next couple of years. Which means I need to get her a lot drunker a lot more often.

Enter the André.

Emily likes pink things and I like things that cost $5.99, so after we'd soaked her parents for yet another solid and liquid lunch, we sent them back to civilization, picked up some André Blush, and took the party back to our soon-to-be-abandoned apartment in Amherst. We also got pizza. Extravagant, I know, but when you're in love with a high achieving woman, you do what you must to keep up. I'll probably spring for Schramsberg and Indian food when she gets her first teacher of the year award (provided it comes with a cash bonus).

I learned two very surprising things that night: A) Some people think two slices is sufficient, even when celebrating a major milestone, and B) André Blush is a very fine bottom shelf sparkling wine.

When Emily and I started dating, she would take the bus to visit me in New York most Fridays. I really liked her and appreciated that she did 90 percent of the traveling, so I tried to be an accommodating host. This meant applying every lesson I'd learned about women: They like Champagne and yogurt, and they don't like the Doors. I adjusted my refrigerator and my iTunes accordingly, we had a great baseball season, and then I quit my job and moved to Amherst. The "quit my job" part had the expected effect on my Champagne budget and the "moved to Amherst" part compounded the problem by taking me 150 miles away from the suspiciously good Champagne specials at Warehouse Wine and Spirits. I realize the bottles are thick, but I'll still never understand how a summer's worth of Piper-Heidsieck survived the fall from the truck.

In Amherst, our sparkling wine consumption dropped off dramatically. This coincided with the launch of the Bottom Shelf, which I believe Emily has already mentioned to Ed but which I swear is unrelated. Grad students get paid even less than rotgut-writers, and we no longer had happy Friday reunions to celebrate, so we just fell out of the Champagne habit. We went on a couple of prosecco benders, but I don't really care for it, so we mostly stuck to the flat stuff.

But when last week's special occasion came calling, André Blush really delivered. I don't know how it gets away with calling itself "California Champagne," but that's none of my business. All I care about is that it costs $5.99, is my favorite lady's favorite color, tastes like nothing much and therefore nothing bad, and keeps on bubbling for at least seven minutes after you pour a pint.

It's too sweet, but much less so than I'd feared, and it has a faintly grapey character that defied my eyes' watermelon expectations. Emily "thought it would taste Boonesier." I'm glad she meant that as a compliment, because there's going to be a lot more André Blush in her very bright future.