I love wine. I’ve taken classes about wine at college and the university and even a couple of evening extension classes. I’ve had jobs pouring wine at Trader Joe’s and the Riviera Hotel here in Las Vegas. For the past ten years I’ve traveled to wine country — mostly California’s Central Coast — and talked to the wine makers, visited the caves and barrel rooms and read lots of books about wine. Oh, yeah, I taste a lot of it too, every chance I get. But really, how does that qualify me to talk about wine?
I love to read wine blogs, but some of them are actually annoying. I was a little perplexed that the “Ten Best Wine Blogs” (according to somebody who evidently knows these things) are all written by professionals in the wine industry — wine makers, sommeliers, winery owners and the like. As I read their posts, I felt discouraged and alienated. These people were not talking to me and my friends. They are talking about a world most of us will unfortunately never visit.
There are other blogs written by normal people — some with degrees and certifications — which make a lot more sense. They are about practical things, they cast light on the exotic side of wine and demystify the esoteric. And those are my people!
There are lots of myths about wine. For instance:
- it needs to age — some do, but most new world wines (the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) are ready to drink when they’re bottled. Some wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, will be better after it’s aged and mellowed for a few years. But buying wine with the idea of “cellaring” it for a decade or more is certainly not necessary. unless you’re buying a French Bordeaux.
- the more expensive, the better – not necessarily. Unless you have a trained palate and a fat wallet, the expensive wines aren’t going to be anymore enjoyable than something reasonably priced. (For me, reasonably priced is under $40 and for everyday drinking with friends, somewhere around $25. For everyday drinking by myself, $15.)
- screw caps mean it’s a cheap wine – If you’ve bought more than a dozen bottles of wine lately, you have come across the Stelvin Closure — or screw cap. The battle rages over this. Corks are traditional and make a nice show. Somehow having the waiter at your table simply unscrew a cap like a bottle of Pepsi is just not very romantic or elegant. But corks are unreliable, sometimes letting in air and ruining the wine. The synthetic corks aren’t much better, and they can be darn hard to get out! And besides, cork is expensive and a very slow-to-renew resource. So more wine makers are adopting the screw cap. Don’t let it fool you.
Several years ago on National Public Radio there was a show called “Ask Doctor Science.” Doctor Science was a horrible snob who assured us, “I know more than you.” He answered questions such as “why do dogs chase cars?” or “what is the difference between going to sleep and falling asleep?” in a masterfully pontifical, condescending manner which was so ridiculous and nonsensical that he always made me laugh.
In truth, I don’t know whether I know more about wine than you do or not. I hope you will enjoy my thoughts on the subject and I hope that you will let me know yours. And I hope I can let you in on some wine bargains and good everyday wines to enjoy. But right now I have to stop and finish off this Chenin Blanc before it gets too warm to drink.
Shameless Plug: Please check out my book: “Beyond the Spotlight: On the Road with Phyllis Diller” on Amazon.com.