There’s no question about it — dive bars are the best shitty hangout spots of all time. They stay open late, the drinks are dirt cheap, and if you’re lucky, some of them may even let you smoke your Marlboro Lights in a hidden corner of the bar. But let’s go back to the real reason why dive bars are the best: cheap drinks. Specifically, mass-produced beer and pleasantly potent well drinks. But it’s time to admit that there’s something in every local dive bar that just shouldn’t be there. Among the array of taps and familiar liquor labels, there’s always a token bottle of wine lurking around that bottom shelf, most likely half-empty, with drip stains covering the horrifying label. Fellow dive-bar goers, I know we have our differences, but can we all agree on one thing here? It’s time for dive bars to stop serving wine.
Let’s break this down once and for all. The definition of a dive bar, according to the always-reputable source of Wikipedia, is “a colloquial or informal American term for a disreputable bar or pub. Such bars may also be referred to as neighborhood bars, where local residents gather to drink and socialize.” Urban Dictionary takes it one step further, describing a dive bar as “a well-worn, unglamorous bar, often serving a cheap, simple selection of drinks to a regular clientele.” Our translation of the two? A lovable, low-maintenance establishment where we go to drink one (or three) too many and have a good time. Now, we’re not saying that this same debauchery shouldn’t take place over multiple glasses of wine. In fact, we totally condone that. However, there’s a designated place for said activity. It’s called a wine bar.
Before you get all upset about my “wine snobbery,” I’m actually putting this out there to help you. In reality, 95 percent of people going to dive bars aren’t ordering wine. If my math serves me right, that means that that half-filled bottle of opened wine has been sitting on that shelf for, I don’t know, a week, perhaps? And we all know what happens to most wines once they’ve been open for more than a few days (hint: they die and go to vinegar heaven). Therefore, when you order a glass of dive bar wine, the wine you’re getting is overpriced, underwhelming, stale, and shittier than it was when it was first opened. Then there’s the fact that most dive bars are buying the most mass-produced, terribly made, and horrifying wines out there. Why is that? Because this is not their speciality! This is not why our favorite dive bars exist. You aren’t meant to be sipping, slurping, and (not) spitting wine here.
Sipping a glass of wine is great. In fact, it’s transcendent. A good glass of wine can take you to a place you’ve never been. Through its terroir, you’re essentially traveling to a place you’ve never experienced, or a vineyard that you’ve dreamt of at some point in your life but never been able to visit. Wine can also bring you back to some of your favorite memories, like that time you spent a hot summer sipping Sauvignon Blanc in your early 20s, or that dinner during your honeymoon in Santorini.
Beyond that, many of us drink wine because we love it. We seek to know more about it, we’re interested in it; hell, some of us are even downright passionate about it. These types of emotions don’t merit a mediocre, stale glass. No, these call for a solid glass of something, whatever that beloved varietal or region might be for you. Drink your wines at your favorite restaurants and wine bars, or at home on your patio with a bottle from your local store. But please don’t order that glass of *insert color* at your local dive. You’re better than that. You deserve better than that. And something that simply goes by “red” or “white” is most definitely not up to your standards, anyway.
To all of our beloved dive bars out there, we salute you. Keep doing your thing: pouring us cheap shots, serving us our favorite well-known drafts, and being our go-to spots on both our good and bad days. But please, for the love of God, stop giving us any form of wine option and chuck those bottles in the trash. Replace them with your favorite bottles of booze and school us on those, instead.