Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rosé done right

With summer in full swing, many wine lovers are proudly popping the corks on one of wine's most neglected styles: Rosé. Almost every year as the days get longer and the temperature warms up, pinks wines get all sorts of press in the wine media for being a perfect summer wine. Don't get me wrong, I think rosé wine is a great wine to sip during the summer, but it is also a wine to be enjoyed all the time. Pink wine has its own style and characteristics that make it much easier to pair with a variety of foods than many white and red wines. Classically, rosé wines are thought to come from the Provence and Rhône Valley regions of southern France. Pink wines are made in most wine regions in the world and from many different grape varieties. But rosé's versatility and quality is often overlooked by most wine consumers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What real wine consumers think about alcohol in wine

Steve Heimoff gets off his rocker and takes a stroll around the crazy ward quite often over on his blog, especially when he is trying to drive traffic. Of his usual group of controversial topics, alcohol in wine is one that tends to get the 50 people in the U.S. that comment on wine blogs riled up. Alcohol is the second biggest component in a bottle of wine and relatively small changes (roughly +/- 10%) in its concentration seem to cause a large debate in the wine community. There is a large group of wine aficionados that scoff at wines that exceed 14% alcohol by volume (abv). This group claims that too much alcohol causes a wine to be unbalanced and "hot" (not Paris Hilton "hot"). On the other hand, many California-centric wine cognoscenti tend to not care if a wine exceeds 15% or even 16% abv. These high-alcohol wines tend to be low in acid but full of fruit flavors. Those with this purely hedonistic point of view, led by über-critic Robert Parker, tend to refer to members of the low-alcohol party as Anti-Flavor Wine Elites.

Steve was mostly correct in his assertion two weeks ago about the "anti-high alcohol revolution," or lack thereof, and I commend him for that. He claimed that "there is no trend against high alcohol in California." He may be technically correct, but he failed to acknowledge that there are more than a handful of winemakers in California that are intentionally making wine with lower levels of alcohol than they had been. However, California is known for its big, bold and fruity wines and that is not going to change because a small minority of wine consumers don't like those types of wines. There is a reason California wine is so popular.

This whole idea of a low-alcohol winemaking revolution is an interesting conversation piece amongst wine writers and the most devoted wine enthusiasts as we love to quibble over the minutia of pH, total acidity, residual sugar, rootstock and percent new oak. However, most of the wine buying public don't give two hoots about any of those details. The real question we should be asking is, do regular wine consumers think about alcohol levels in wine?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Making wine a spectator sport...

So when I got home from work yesterday my wife had started our yearly binge of watching Master Chef en masse on Hulu. Combined with many of the reports from last week's Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the Colorado Urban Winefest, watching several episodes of Master Chef got me thinking about why wine isn't more of a spectator sport and on TV more often. I mean, the Food Network is a very popular television station. The summer is full of food-centric reality shows. Sure, most of them showcase Gordon Ramsey, but food is at least a supporting character. But where is the wine?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oh yeah, I have a blog... (and notes on the NextGen Wine Competition)

Wow, it has been quite a while since I've written a blog post! The few weeks have been busy, but mostly I've been lazy. I've got a lot to catch up on though! I was in California judging at a competition and made a few winery visits during my free time. I got back to Denver just in time for the Colorado Urban Winefest. And to top it off, I had a couple of great dinners with some impressive wines with friends and acquaintances the past few days.

I'll get to those stories in due time, but this post is about the NextGen Wine Competition. For the second year, I was invited by Vineyard and Winery Management (VWM) to judge at the NextGen Wine Competition. The competition was designed specifically with younger (and increasingly more important) wine consumers in mind, and was judged by qualified and knowledgeable wine industry millennials aged 21-35. Most of the judges were from California, but there were a handful from the likes of Colorado, Wisconsin and Illinois. One of the things that Rob Merletti, CEO/Publisher of VWM, mentioned in his speech at the judges' dinner was that he wanted to use the NextGen (and the other 5 competitions VWM owns) as a way to introduce the rest of the wine industry to the grapes and wines of the other 47 states not named California, Oregon and Washington. Being from the east coast, Rob explained that he was introduced to wine via the likes of Chambourcin, Norton and Baco Noir and he hopes that many of America's new wine consumers will discover wine via a similar path of non-traditional varieties from their local wine regions. I was pleasantly surprised that a few of the Cali judges knew what traminette was, but still too many were not aware of how brianna, muscadine and cayuga should be judged. Nevertheless, I applaud Rob and VWM for being so progressive with their vision of the future of the American wine industry. Oh, and vidal blanc made it to the sweepstakes tasting!