Posts Filed Under wine appreciation
Several days ago, a lively discussion took place here in the comments on a post (okay, “rant”) that challenged wineries in emerging wine regions to focus on fewer, higher-quality bottlings, and not to pawn off poorly-made (or not-quite-ready-for-prime-time experimental) wines onto customers at their tasting rooms (a scenario which I’ve experienced first-hand).
In those comments, frequent-visitor and formidable-wine-blogger-in-his-own-right Thomas Pellechia raised a couple of fascinating related questions, about which he, in turn, challenged me to write:
“…is there or should there be a relationship between what the wine ‘press’ prefers and what the wine ‘tourists’ buy? And who’s got the upper hand when it comes to establishing the success of a winery?”
Put another way, if critics say a wine really sucks, how relative of a measure is it? Do people act on that assessment when it comes to buying wine? And if they do, should they? Could a winery still manage to pawn off its crappy stuff to newbie consumers in the tasting room, even if critics pan the bejeezus out of it?
Not easy questions to tackle. In fact, they’re like trying to tackle Jerome Bettis in his heyday. If I’d have had any clue just how deep a rabbit hole I’d be diving into after promising Thom I’d take on the topic, I would have told him (politely) to get bent and stop leaving such profound comments on my blog.
And this rabbit hole goes pretty deep, boy. What I found in my quick-and-dirty investigation reveals a lot about how we buy wine, calls into question the future relevance of wine criticism generally (including my own modest contribution to that sphere), and tells us why it still might be possible for wineries to close many a tasting room sale on their crappiest offerings.
So take the red pill, if you dare, and I’ll show you just how deep the rabbit-hole goes…
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WARNING: This is one of those “it’s-my-blog-and-I’m-gonna-get-personal-if-I-wanna” posts. And it’s probably also a blatant appeal to pet-lovers everywhere. Proceed with caution!
Presumably because my life isn’t insane enough already, my family decided that the time was right for us to adopt a new dog. Frequent 1WD readers will recall that our previous pooch, Samson, had to be put down last Summer while I was in Walla Walla at the 2010 Wine Bloggers Conference. We’re dog people at Chateau Dude – no offense to you cat people out there, but I am not down with cats; cats will eat you if you die and that kind of freaks me out.
Anyway… bear with me, this will come back to wine… eventually…
Presumably because just getting a dog itself isn’t anywhere near challenging enough, we picked up a rescue case: an 18-month-old, just-had-lots-of-surgery, not-housebroken, kept-outside, never-really-been-walked, underfed, under-weight, and under-loved rescue that is part Cane Corso (Italian Mastiff) and (we think) part Doberman Pinscher. His new name (apparently, he has had several) is Bruno, short for “Brunello,” because he’s big and Italian, after all…
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Do you drink wine without eating food? At the same time, I mean. Of course you eat food. And of course you don’t actually drink wine at exactly the same time that you eat food, as that is physiologically impossible… ah, forget it, you know what I mean!
Anyway… Chances are, increasingly, that your answer to that question is “well…duh!” At least, that’s the story from a recent Wine Opinions market-research survey, which was the subject of a New York Times piece by my compadre Eric Asimov.
I was quoted in Eric’s write-up, mostly on the topic of whether or not this trend away from wine and food meal pairing consumption should surprise anyone, especially with the advent of the Millennial wine-buyers coming of age into the market for fine wine (to save you some reading time, my answer was basically “No, we shouldn’t be surprised”).
For some reason I seem to have been anointed as someone with a direct line into the Millennial wine-buying hive-brain, which seems strange to me because, while I’m very, very humbled and grateful that so many in the Millennial set seem to enjoy this blog, the first thing that anyone who knows Millennials will tell you is that you should ask them (the Millennials, that is) about their buying habits directly, because they are probably more willing to speak about them than any previous generation. So if you’re in the wine marketing biz and you’re not talking directly with Millennial wine buyers, then you are not Charlie-Sheen-winning, my friends…
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Last night, the Dudelette and I tried out a relatively new family-dining-style BYO Italian bistro in our area. Just about everything at this new-ish joint was very, very good – from the friendly service right on through to the tasty, looks-like-it-just-came-out-of-grandma’s-kitchen pasta.
I say “just about everything” because, as you will see in the inset pic (with apologies from me including crappy-ass cellphone shots here), when I pulled out out BYO wines, the restaurant handed me a nice metal “waiter’s friend” style corkscrew (I want one!), along with two wine “glasses” that looked as though they’d serve better duty as flower vases.
Are those glasses pretty? You bet. Are they decent glasses for drinking wine? No way.
I’m not trying to be a wine snob here (it comes naturally after a while!) – you’re reading the words of someone who regularly tries wines out of small plastic cups at outdoor events (you can take the kid out of Elsmere, but you’ll never take the Elsmere out of the kid, baby!) – but trying to get a sense of a wine and really enjoy it out of these things was just about impossible. Even our potentially kick-ass dinner wine selections (Matthiasson releases – and we all know those folks know what they’re doing because they’re getting mentioned here on an almost weekly basis now) tasted downright pedestrian from those things. We probably would have had better luck tasting them from our daughter’s sippy-cup (seen in the background).
For my tastes, those vase-glasses have a rim that’s way to wide and so thick that it dumps the wine into your mouth at a strange angle. All that pretty carving action? No way to really dig on the wine’s color and clarity through that stuff. The goblet style shape? More suitable to specialty beer brews than wine – give me a tulip-shaped glass any day.
Think the Dude doth protest too much? Had a head-on run-in with restaurant wine glasses? Shout it out in the comments!