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Merry Everything (Now, Go Explore The Infinite Expanse Of The Wine World!)

Vinted on December 25, 2012 under commentary

“‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!’”
- from How The Grinch Stole Christmas

[ Editor’s note: please substitute the Winter Solstice holiday of your choice for “Christmas” above; I’m not religious so I don’t give a hoot which one you go with, so long as you’re happy, okay? ]

This short blog post is, in part, a please for you to explore (and introduce others to) the near infinite expanse of the wine world. It’s also an excuse to post some 2012 family holiday photos of Mrs. Dudette and the Dudette-lette (more than a few of you have commented over the past year that you want to see more of them… and the dog… sorry I couldn’t get that over-sized mini-moose in there this year, but we did the holiday photos ourselves, and having an intelligence-challenged, 115lb dog on the loose when you’ve got an SLR on a timer and tripod is just a recipe  for having to buy yourself a new SLR for the holidays!). It’s also a sincere wish from me that, whatever Winter Solstice holiday you happen to celebrate, the season is treating you warmly, safely, and well!

The recent tragic events directly impacting the lives of dozens of families in Connecticut have reminded almost all of us – and particularly those of us who are parents – that we all take that warmth, safety and well-being for granted far too often. And so the family photos, psychoanalyzing myself for a second here, are probably my way of saying that I don’t take that for granted (at least not today). I know I’ll get weak eventually, but I can honestly say that I’ll be trying harder from here on out…

On a much lighter note, I also hope that, if there are wine lovers on your  “nice” list, that you’ve treated them (and yourself, for that matter) with the one gift that I urge wine geeks to go with this time of year: namely, wine from “someplace else.” Personally, I can think of no greater gift than potentially introducing a budding wine lover to wine regions that they wouldn’t normally have considered buying on their own.

That’s a true gift, the kind that cannot ever be taken away: the joy of experimentation, the hurts-so-good shock of seeing just how big the wine world is, and the visceral thrill of realizing that no matter how deep you go into the wine geek forest, there will always, always, always be caches left unexplored, exciting lessons to be learned, beauty to be found.

So here’s to you, here’s to family, here’s to the season, and here’s to daring to be different!

Cheers!

Varietal Is NOT A Synonym For Variety

Vinted on December 18, 2012 under commentary

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Cheers!

* – Don’t believe me? LOOK IT UP!

The Waning Of The Wine Critic?

Vinted on November 20, 2012 under commentary

Earlier this month, I was a guest lecturer at a wine class for undergrads at Drexel University in downtown Philly. The class is taught by Jason Wilson (author of the very entertaining spirits book Boozehound and who somehow Id never met in Philly; it took a chance encounter at one of the Professional Wine Writers Symposium events in Napa for us to become friends)

Talk about flashbacks (but not those kinds of flashback!) – the impressive great court of Drexel’s Main Building and its serpentine staircases leading to the back classrooms reminded me in no small way of trying to find the Philosophy classroom at my alma matter’s (SJU) Barbelin Hall. I got the sense that a lot of 21-year-old students would’ve been very late trying to get to that Drexel class for the first time (and if you can make it back out after tasting ten-or-so wines without spitting… more power to you).

I was there to talk about the wine regions of Australia (which I’d recently visited), and taste the class through a sampling of wines from those locales, the theme of which, as I tried to summarize early in the likely eventuality that I’d completely lose control of the class later, was “in America we tend to treat French wine regions as if they’re continents apart when in reality you can drive between several of them in a couple of hours; but Australia we treat as one big dessert, when in reality their wine regions really are continents apart!”

Jason has published a fun and insightful take on the class – and on wine talk in general – over at Table Matters (a story in which I play the part of a Brett Nazi, though my reaction to the Bretty wine might have been a bit over-emphasized in that tale… or not, I was onto beer by then, so who knows…).

Scanning the faces of those kids (I can call them “kids” now that I’m 40, right?), sitting in two rows against the long side of the cramped rectangular classroom, I got a microcosm of the East Coast wine drinking future. Some stared pretty intently, offering quiet comments when a topic or wine really struck them. Others were yawning (hey, Wine Appreciation is a better elective than “Math Models In Chemistry,” right?). And others were clearly having revelations about their own tastes and the at lovable madness that is the diversity of wine just within Australia itself.

None of them had any fear whatsoever of trying a new region, grape, or blend. None of them had any concern more pressing than the price point of each bottle ($12 and under seemed to be the realistic cut off for future purchases).

And none of them – not a single one – has ever followed the advice of a wine critic…

Read the rest of this stuff »

A Millennial’s Open Letter To The Wine Industry: I Would Love Your Wine, If I Could Afford It (Guest Post)

Vinted on November 13, 2012 under commentary, guest posts

[ Editor’s note: following is a guest post from the 1WD intern: the young, unpaid Shelby Vittek. While Shelby may be young, she’s got better creds than a lot of would-be wine media folks out there: she’s been writing about wine for the millennial set for the better part of a year, is already working on her first book (a guide to wine for college students), and has been published in the Washington Post's travel section.  Her current writing gig is for the newly re-launched TableMatters.com. To give Shelby a break from having to catalog the small ocean of samples in my basement, we’re going to let her flex her writing muscles with guest posts centering on how young wine buyers view the wine world. We often talk about the Millennial wine buying generation here on 1WD, but this is a chance for you to get the scoop on Millennial wine habits directly from the source. You can follow Shelby on twitter at @BigBoldReds. Let us know what you think (but keep things civil, you opinionated b*stards!). Enjoy! ]

My usual cutoff price for a bottle of wine is ten dollars.

Yes, you read that correctly: $10 or less.

My problem isn’t that I don’t enjoy drinking higher-end wines, ones that are older or more intriguing – it’s just that frankly, I can’t afford them.

I’m part of the younger generation of wine-curious Millennials – the ones who have entered into the world of legal wine-buying and consumption age in the past few years. We are supposedly the generation of wine drinkers believed to be the almighty saviors of the wine industry. But finding an interesting, relatively delicious bottle of wine that doesn’t give me anxiety when I think about making rent at the end of the month is a never-ending challenge.

While I don’t anticipate these wines will blow me away the same way an older Barolo or an aged Riesling does, I want to be able to take pleasure in a glass alone after work (or rather, hours of organizing the mass amounts of wine samples in Joe’s basement). I want to share a bottle with friends without being embarrassed or horrified by the quality of my selection. (I have been deemed the know-it-all-wine-friend, after all.) And when I go home to visit my mother, I want to bring a bottle with me that impresses both her and her more sophisticated palate, without my budget-savvy ways being given away.

You may be shaking your head, or rolling your eyes at how frugal I am with my wine purchases. Maybe you think I’m crazy for expecting a ten-dollar bill to be traded for a beautifully perfumed wine that also delivers rich flavors. But I assure you, I am not insane, and I am definitely not alone. Many other younger Millennials are in the same boat as I am…

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