Dive Bar Wine – A Shitty Wine Blog Adventure

Dive Bar Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, Merlot & Chardonnay

$20 (plus tip)

I’ve been wanting to do a dive bar excursion for a while. There is no shitty wine truer than the half-empty bottles, shoved between the tequila and vodka, sitting dusty and alone. Plus, it was happy hour, and happy hour is always worth an adventure.

My friends – this did not disappoint.

I went to my neighborhood watering hole in Burbank with the husband in tow. It’s a small bar, with a handful of booths and high-tops. It was mostly empty, except for six middling-aged men at the bar – all drinking whiskey. The post-work rabble paired with the familiar dive-bar-liquor smell made me feel right at home. I immediately started craving a cigarette.

We started with the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Pinot Grigio. The bartender did a considerable double-take when we ordered, then said, “Yeah, I’m going to have to see your IDs.”

My assumptions proved correct – one does not simply order a glass of wine at a dive bar. Part of me regrets not getting the winery name, but I think it’s best to leave it a mystery.

Cabernet Sauvignon –

Upfront punch dissolving quickly into (what I assume) cyanide tastes like. Earthy, with rubbery undertones. An abandoned tire in a field, already covered in grass – reclaimed by nature. Smells like the bar. Unassuming at first, but intensely acidic.

Pinot Grigio –

This was my favorite. Notes of apple juice and diluted cider, with a distinct mouthwash feel. Hints of cleaning solution. Salt and bubbles. I considered this a sanitized wine. Unexpectedly more palatable than the cab.


Not going to lie, drinking the wine was a challenging endeavor. I’ve been spoiled by the $4.99 bottles from the grocery store. Dive bar wine is on an entirely different level of rough.

So naturally, we went back to the bar and got the other two options – Chardonnay and Merlot*.

We were given even heartier pours; likely as a gift for our resolve or iron-clad stomachs.


Chardonnay –

Tastes like a lemonade mimosa, and somehow sharper than the Pinot Grigio. This is a headache wine – I felt it after the first sip. Sitting, waiting – ready to pounce. Melted candy and burnt sugar cubes. Bleachy. My throat tightened, as if to keep from swallowing.

Merlot –

The Merlot was the most challenging of the four wines. If I took small sips, it was the only wine that stayed terrible throughout the glass. I mostly gagged it down and regretted my life choices. Next time, I will simply request a four-wine blend versus just drinking the Merlot. Otherwise, this wine is pure jet hangover fuel.


Dive bar wine drunk is a cheap, but quick escalation of fun. I think there is a secondary high that comes from inhaling dive bar fumes as you drink. I regret nothing. In fact – I plan to do it again!

*(No, we don’t drink fucking Merlot – but this was for science, and science always wins. )

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