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The Summer of Wine’s Discontent (or "What Wine Can Learn From Beer")

Vinted on September 22, 2008 binned in best of, commentary, learning wine

The wine world probably won’t miss the Summer of `08.

That’s because the Summer of `08 seems like wine’s Season of Discontent.

Personally, I’ve never been so happy to see the Autumn (even taking into account that the Fall is my favorite time of year… colorful leaves… dark beers… heavier wines… and football… sweet, sweet football…).

Anyway, it was last week, with Autumn and football in full swing, when I realized that the wine biz has a lot to learn from its “little” cousin, beer. You know, the one that wine likes to look down on and winsomely tolerate from time to time at family reunions, all the while not seeming to realize that its cousin lives in a bigger house, makes more money, and has more friends. Yes, that cousin. Wine – I’m talking to YOU.

Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting fellow blogger The Beer Wench, touring nearby beer stalwart Victory Brewing Company with her. Dude loves beer (in fact, I used to brew it), and he is tight with Victory: it’s my favorite beer location, Mrs. Dudette and I are friends with Victory’s events coordinator, and Dude’s band is playing Victory’s outdoor Fall Fest celebration this year. So we were able to score a private tour of the beer-making magic for The Beer Wench.

About halfway through said tour (when I was rolling hops in my fingers, forever imprinting it’s aromatic fingerprint into my brain), I realized something very important (to me, anyway): I’ve yet to meet anyone involved in beer – whether it be media, distribution, crafting, or enjoying – who was snobbish to the point of being exclusionary. Nobody. Zippo. Nada. It just doesn’t happen. All seem to be welcome in the land of beer. Sure, they have their favorites, and the occasional “low on taste high on commercial budget” examples that they love to hate (Bud Light, anyone?). But you’re never, ever turned away at the door of fine beer. Never.

The mantra of the beer lovers?

Everyone else is also a potential beer lover – they just don’t know it yet!

I wish that I could say the same held true for the world of fine wine…


The sad truth is that there is snobbery in the wine world, and some parts of the industry might actually bank on that snobbery to make their take-home pay.

Too many budding wine aficionados are scared off by “experts” or turned away by the snobbish who view fine wine as some sort of elitist entitlement, to whom holding wine at arm’s length from newbies is some sort of perverse badge of wine honor. By actively deterring new potential wine lovers, the only thing that the ‘elite’ are doing for fine wine is driving its future of appreciation into the dirt. I’m NOT talking about the Robert Parkers of the world. I’m talking about those who think they’re Robert Parkers, but lack the experience, renown, know-how, clout, and funding, yet somehow feel as though wine ‘belongs’ to them.

This has nothing to do with print wine media. It has to do with individuals (no matter if they’re in the wine industry or not) who are perpetuating a myth that you need to earn your place to love wine. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Wine loves you already. it wants you to be its friend. Wine doesn’t like the snobs, either!

In my view, it would help the wine world if most of those in it took a long, hard look at the world of beer and instead of turning their noses at it, embrace its sense of helpfulness and down to earth charm.

Hey! Wine world! You need to help yourself to a glass of “Get Over Yourself” Ale. Vintage: Now. Region: You.

In general (not just for wine), people are looking more and more to social networking and customized recommendations. Some wine distributors, wine mags, wineries, and a whole lotta bloggers “get” this, and are doing their best to help those consumers, newbies, and enthusiastic learners. And they’re probably enjoying a cold brewski while they’re doing it (and if not, they should, because whether hey realize it or not, they’re taking a cue from the beer industry).

Arguably, there are now more helpful resources to help the wine neophyte than there have at any other time in history. The tide is changing. And it’s coming for the wine world, whether it’s ready or not.

Cheers!
(images: old-photos.blogspot.com, 1WineDude.com)

An Open Letter to (Busty) California Winemakers

Vinted on September 19, 2008 binned in best of, California wine, commentary

To Whom It May Concern:

I’ve just polished off another 1/2 of a bottle of your tasty, 14.5% abv wines… in fact, I’m pretty sure that even though it said 14.5% on the elegant bottle, it was probably closer to 15.2%. Anyway, I hope you’ll forgive me if I stray off topic or get a little emotional. I’m sure you’ll understand…

I’m a wine lover. And I love California wines – in fact, they’re the first wines that made me stand up and say “WOW! I think I’m in love with wine!” If it wasn’t for CA wines, I would never have started my own personal and fulfilling journey into the wondrous world of wine.

So let’s just establish right now that I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for CA wine. I even love a good fruit bomb every now and then, which I’d argue is one of the fingerprints of CA wine that makes it so unique on the world stage, and capable of being so damn good.

We’ve had a good run, you and me… BUT… things just aren’t what they used to be…


Your wines… they’re just starting to… well, I’ll be honest, they’re starting to seem a little boorish sometimes. And I have to admit, I’ve been finding myself attracted to other wine regions. Southern France, New Zealand, Chile…

I didn’t expect this to happen. I thought we were happy together. But then things started to change. I understand that you need to ‘chase scores sometimes in order to command high bottle prices for your wines. After all, how else can you afford to keep up with those expensive winemaking techniques… I know how difficult it is to upkeep pricey machinery, to hand-sort grapes, and let’s not talk about the extravagant prices of new oak barrels these days!

I appreciate what you’re up against, too; those Old World wine regions have hundreds of years going for them, and they can take a long range view of their wines. You have it tougher – sometimes, if you don’t create a big, busty fruit bomb, you can’t get your name out there quickly enough to be successful – and your competition sure isn’t waiting around.

But it’s all gone overboard now. I mean, do you have to obsess about Robert Parker’s ratings all the time??!? I like the guy, but there are other palate preferences out there. Good ones, too.

I love that you’re busty with all of that alcohol and ripe fruit. It turns me on. But you used to be busty and elegant. Now… well… I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

I’m not sure things can ever go back to being how they were.

But I’m willing to try if you are.

So please… for both of us… think twice before you go for that much alcohol. I’m not sure that any unfortified wine has enough fruit, acidity, and tenderness to balance against > 15% abv. Think about that, for you, for me. For us, and what we used to have together…

Love,
-Dude

(images: flikr.com – eduardolive, unknown)

Tales of the Purple Monkey: Bye-Bye Bush

Vinted on September 17, 2008 binned in commentary, Tales of the Purple Monkey, wine blogging wednesday


This way-cool special edition of Tales of the Purple Monkey has Plumboo and I not tasting or reviewing any wine whatsoever!

Participating as we do in the ongoing monthly wine blogger carnival Wine Blogging Wednesday, the Purple Monkey and I usually take part via a theme-based wine review. Instead, this election-year-inspired September WBW theme (hosted over at the fine blog 2 Days per Bottle) has us picking a wine that we will taste in the future, in order to answer the question “What will you drink to toast the end of the Bush era?”.

Before Dude answers this one, there are some things that you need to know about the Dude:

  1. Dude is NOT a Democrat, and Dude is NOT a Republican.
  2. Dude does NOT WANT to be a Democrat, and Dude does NOT WANT to be a Republican (hopefully this stops you party recruiters from hitting the Send button on the e-mails you started writing to me when you read #1 above).
  3. All the people in the Bush administration that Dude liked are long gone by now. Dude now thinks that the Bush administration is a freakin’ abomination.
  4. Dude would like to compare President Bush to a box of Tic-Tacs (in terms of which would make a better president), but thinks that would be insulting to the Tic-tacs.
  5. Dude thinks that President Bush deserves his 30% approval rating, except that it’s about 30 percentage points too high.

Ok, now that we’ve lost all seven of the Bush supporters who may have been reading this, we can get down to business!…


I will be toasting not only the end of the Bush era, but also the beginning of the era for whoever the hell is coming next… because I feel it’s extremely unlikely that they will make worse decisions than Bush in terms of the progression of Liberty, fair trade, U.S. economics, foreign policy, environmental concerns, education, separation of church & state, and energy independence. I could go on but Dude is getting a little angry now. Let’s just say that I am thankful that Bush stayed in good health, so that Cheney never had a chance to try to ruin, er, I mean run the country.

There is but one choice for a toast under these circumstances. Bubbly! And lots of it.

Which means that the bubbly needs to be tasty, and not too expensive. Sparkling wine to the rescue!

It goes without saying that this wine must be made in America. So, I’m going with a NY Finger Lakes stalwart: Chateau Frank‘s Brut. The vintage, naturally, will be 2000, the year that Bush stole, er, I mean took office. This wine happens to be aged underground for three years “sur lie,” which means on its lees (the remnants of the yeasts from fermentation), giving it extra body, and a pleasing bready character. That is also auspicious, considering that the word “lie” comes to mind immediately when Dude hears about the Bush administration…

Now that I think about it, having a wine in my cellar that so perfectly matches this situation might be a sign that the universe itself is, in fact, intelligent. Not sure…

Anyway, a toast:
The King is Dead! Long Live the King!!

Cheers!
(images: 1WineDude.com, redgreenandblue.org, drfrankwines.com)

Dude, Where Are The Ratings?

Vinted on September 16, 2008 binned in about 1winedude blog, commentary, wine review

Simple – there aren’t any.

Next question.

Ok, well maybe it’s not that simple, actually.

Astute 1WineDude.com readers have pointed out that I have yet to clearly explain my wine rating system; or, more accurately, my lack of a wine rating system. So… I will try to explain it but bear with me, because while I love wine and I love talking about wine, I really hate talking about talking-about wine.

If 1WineDude.com had a Mission Statement or Credo (it doesn’t, by the way), it might look something like this:
a) Drink Wine. b) Have Fun. c) Learn Something.

Generally speaking, I don’t review wines in my blog posts, unless reviewing a wine gives me an opportunity to also have fun and pass on some interesting wine learning along the way…


When I do review a wine, I try to be as objective as possible, but generally I don’t taste wines blind (unless that somehow can also provide an opportunity for b) and c) above). Why not? Well, when’s the last time that you tasted a wine blind? People just don’t do that at the dinner table, unless they haven’t been paying their electricity bills.

When I read about a wine, I usually want to know the answers to a few key questions: a) How does it taste? b) Are the aromas / flavors things that I like? c) Is it worth the price?

That’s it. You don’t need a rating for that. If I wanted to be inundated with numbers, and read boring lifestyle pieces from snarky old billionaires that have too much money and free time, who want to regale themselves with their stories of how they travel every year to Old World wine countries with the Duchy of Snob-a-tonia, and won’t touch a wine that isn’t rated 95 “points” or higher, blah-blah-blah… well, there’s already a magazine for that kind of stuff.

What I don’t want to see are a bunch of numbers. A number tells me nothing about whether or not I’ll like a wine and if it offers good value for money – which for me is the majority of the equation, so to speak.

Also, I don’t know anyone who “speaks” in points. I’ve never, ever said to someone at dinner “ooohhh, this wine is soooo a 94!” And I doubt that I ever will. Unless I think it’s funny at the time and I’m at dinner with one of the guys from Wine Enthusiast…

I’m wagering that since you’re here on this blog, you’re thinking somewhat along the same lines when it comes to wine ratings. Since we’ve established then that none of us like wine rating numbers, I’ve instead included in this post some graphics of George W. Bush’s Presidential approval ratings ratings (they’re going down, by the way). Enjoy!

Now for some odd reason, I seem to ruffle feathers with the established wine critic community whenever I talk about this rating stuff on my blog. Oh well! To those whom I hath offended, I say: “Hey, thanks for reading!”

Please note that I am NOT bashing wine rating scores in general here. I just don’t happen to like them so I’m not using them. I am, however, totally poking fun at the Bush Administration.

Hope this clears up my stance on the conspicuous lack of wine ratings here at Dude central. I look forward to not rating many more wines for you in the future!

Cheers!
(images: gallup.com, wikimedia.org)

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