In its December 2009 issue, the fine wine industry mag Sommelier Journal decided to take an interesting and unique angle on the ‘year end wine recap.’
Instead of compiling a year-end best-of list, Editor David Vogels asked a hand-selected group (consisting primarily of wine directors, sommeliers and other wine pros) to contribute what they thought to be the most memorable wine they’d tasted in 2009. The only restrictions: the wine had to be available in the U.S., and the contributor shouldn’t be commercially representing the wine in any way.
It’s a novel and very entertaining way to recap another year in vino. The result is presented in the December issue as a 40 selection wine list (along with tasting notes), divvied into Sparkling, White, Rose, Red, and Dessert categories.
The prices of the chosen wines tells us some interesting things about how wine pros view the wine world. The average price of a wine on that list?
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Depending on who you ask, Wine Trials author Robin Goldstein is either the wine world’s Satan, or the wine consumer’s Savior.
Whether you feel that Goldstein’s powers are being used for good or evil, you can’t say that he harbors a fear of shaking things up. Goldstein became a polarizing figure in the wine world in 2008, when he ruffled the feathers of Wine Spectator by creating a fictitious restaurant whose wine list included some of their lowest-scoring Italian wines in the past two decades, and subsequently won their restaurant Award of Excellence. The aftermath caused one of the most heated debates of the year in the wine world.
Goldstein also coauthored The Wine Trials, the first edition of which is the bestselling wine guide (for inexpensive wines, anyway) in the world. The premise of the Wine Trials was simple: compare everyday wines to more expensive equivalents in blind tastings, and see which ones the average person preferred. As it turns out, most wine consumers – to a statistically significant degree – enjoy the less expensive options; more feathers ruffled!
Goldstein has a new website, BlindTaste.com, and the 2010 edition of the Wine Trials has recently been released. I tore through my review copy of The Wine Trials, and I found the first 50 pages (which describe the approach and science behind the book, and hint at its future implications on the wine industry) to be some of the most profound reading on wine appreciation that I have ever come across. The Wine Trials doesn’t just poke at wine’s sacred cows – it skewers them, grills them, and serves them up with an inexpensive Spanish red (Lan Rioja Crianza in this case, which took the Wine of the Year honors in the 2010 Wine Trials). A similar take on beer, The Beer Trials, is set to be released this Spring.
Robin kindly agreed to answer a few questions for our readers. I’ll warn you that you should be prepared for a quick and opinionated mind – and you might want to pad the walls of your wine world, because that world is about to get turned squarely onto its ear…
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Put your high-school chemistry goggles on (you know, safety is paramount, right?) and join me today on Corkd.com for a look at the wine flaws.
I’ve been asked by Cork’d to contribute to their Cork’d Content feature, which showcases original content from different wine bloggers each day on a variety of wine topics, with the goal of adding fun, informational / educational wine content for Corkd.com users.
I’m excited to be contributing to Cork’d and to be apart of the vibrant wine-reviewing community over there. I’ve also been thoroughly enjoying the articles already posted at Cork’d that were written by friends of mine, like Robert Dwyer and Hardy Wallace.
My article focuses on the particularly egregious wine flaws that, while not common, nonetheless create unforgettable moments of awful stinkiness that can abruptly and totally destroy your wine-drinking experience if and when you do encounter them.
Should be fun!
The Second Glass is kicking some ass.
The Boston-area stalwarts just released their Annual Wine Guide for 2010, and it’s an impressive ‘cheat sheet’ view of high QPR wine selections.
I’m not sure how they selected the wines that made the final cut to be highlighted in the buying guide, and not all of the selections are blow-your-mind good, but I’m impressed with some of the wines that were included (S.A. Prum Essence Riesling, anyone?). The guide is organized by country / region, and you will learn a bit about the wine production and culture for each of the included countries, so it’s not just a list of budget-oriented wine picks.
I especially liked how they highlighted some of the value-producing and fast-improving regions of Spain (Jumilla, Yecla), didn’t shun Austria, and were bold enough to offer up Chenin Blanc recommendations from Clarksburg in California. The guide finishes with the selections indexed by potential purpose (“Turkey Wine,” “Winter Warmer,” and my personal favorite, “Panty Remover.”)
All in all, it’s 40+ pages of wine goodness.
A printed copy will run you all of $2.00 – if you’re too cheap for that, you can browse the entire contents on-line.
Hats-off to the Second Glass team for this handy guide – they’ve outdone similar offerings that run for a hell of a lot more money.
Got a favorite wine guide? Let’s hear about ‘em in the comments!