Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wine Should Be Mysterious

Reading this review of a wine bar in New York it reminded me of one reason why I like wine so much - the mystery. I taste between twenty and forty wines each week (and sometimes much more), so I've had more Chardonnays and Shiraz than I can count. That's why I get really excited when something new comes around. The great thing about wine is that no matter how much you have tried there are always new discoveries to be made and new flavors you've never experienced.

Unfortunately the big wine brands have spent a fortune convincing people that mystery is a bad thing - what you want is consistency. It's true that when you buy different wines each time occasionally you'll get something you don't like, but that's true of life in general, isn't it? If you stick to what you know you won't be disappointed but you won't experience the thrill of a great discovery either. I'm always amazed at how many people tell me they just want to find one wine they really like and stick with that. I don't think most people make that judgment on their own, but that it's the product of marketing for both food and wine. If you want to make big money in the wine business, you convince people to stick to your brand. In the end a few people get rich and the real artists and farmers lose out. And so do you, the consumer. And the biggest scam of all is that these big brand wines aren't even cheaper, but so many people think they are through the power of suggestion.

I'll stop myself before I really get going and get back to why I brought this up in the first place. Right now I am very excited about a wine that is sitting in the fridge at our Plank Road store. The wine is the La Ferme de la Sansonniere Rose d'un Jour from Marc Angeli. Made from the obscure Grolleau grape variety in France's Loire Valley, this wine is one of the finest roses I've ever tasted, and definitely the most original. Rebecca and I had this at an industry event a few months ago and loved it. It's a bit expensive to sell in stores (it would have retailed for about $40, more than most people are willing to pay for rose although this wine is more than worth it). It's completely unfiltered so it's actually opaque. It's also completely naturally made and has no added sulfites, which is very unusual for a rose. Even more unusual, it's semi-sweet (I jokingly referred to this wine as the world's best white Zinfandel). This is the sort of wine that most people wouldn't even try let alone buy, and that's what makes it so great. It's like discovering a wonderful vacation destination that nobody knows or cares about and so becomes your own special thing. This wine doesn't travel well so the importer gave me one bottle to try to make sure it's still drinking well. If it is Rebecca and I have a case coming our way. If you ask nicely we might be willing to sell you a bottle.

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