If you’ve been looking for ways to justify your wine budget, consider supporting public radio by joining the NPR Wine Club.
Joining the club will run you $79.99 but will result in a case of fine beverages worth much more than that to appear at your doorstep. You can choose all red, all white, or a mix. As a bonus, you will receive three NPR-special wines, “All Grapes Considered Malbec,” “Weekend Edition Cabernet Sauvignon” and “NPR Uncorked Merlot.” You can customize your selection, see in advance what’s being sent and ask for swaps if you are, for example, a weirdo like me who hates Chianti. And you can cancel without penalty at any time. The 15-bottle shipment (including the three NPR-bottles) is a steal at $80; the lot’s worth about $200.
Wine “experience curators” have cropped up like wee mushrooms in recent years, and while I’m often tempted to be frustrated by them, there’s a synergy here I can’t pretend I don’t love. NPR prides itself on good and crucial storytelling and the wines you’ll receive in the quarterly case-shipment are researched as painstakingly as NPR’s stories, and delivered with as much human-interest detail. (You can thank partner Laithwaite’s Wines for doing the legwork.) In other words, there are wine aggregators who can give you a “palate quiz” and then inform you of what you like, and then there’s this “storytelling” style of carefully selected and highly diverse bottles that will surprise you and be delivered with fabulously detailed tasting notes and histories. Hell, you might learn something. You might learn something you didn’t even know was there to learn. You might discover a varietal or a region you are inspired to know more about. This is not about lifestyle brands or shadowy collaborations with winemakers who won’t put their names on the labels. It’s an ongoing reportage on what’s going on, sometimes in unlit, unsung corners of the world, with one of the most obsessively-cultivated food crops on earth.
Currently, the three NPR-themed offerings are all heavy reds, but hell, it’s not like there’s too much “light” in the news lately. I will suggest that, as this club takes off, National Public Radio might consider expanding their portfolio. Fresh Air Friulano? Guy Pinot Noir? Marketplace Muscat? This A-Meritage Life? The possibilities are nearly limitless, intrepid journos! I’m sure the “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” regulars could see to it that you had the best line of pun-forward wines this side of Bonny Doon.
If you’ve already got your dutiful-donor hand-crank solar power radio and your collection of Deepak Chopra DVDS, I’d say your next wisest choice in a donation gift would arguably be making sure there is plenty of good wine to drink. Can you think of any better way to support listener-supported public broadcasting? Cheers!