The most popular wine in the United States is chardonnay. The Nielsen people reported this month that than one out of every five bottles sold in the year ending July 23 was chardonnay, while only 12 percent of the wine sold during that period was cabernet sauvignon. Meanwhile, white wine outsold red wine 49 percent to 44 during those 52 weeks.
So why does it seem the wine world only cares about red wine? I was reminded of this over the weekend when The Italian Wine Guy wrote glowingly about a recent white wine find, and one of the commenters added: "Please do not inform them of the intensity and intricacy of white wine. Please let them continue to treat red as the only serious style of wine. ..."
Which, it seems, is the case. It's not so much that the Mainstream Wine Media worships at the altar of red wine; it's that white wine seems like an afterthought despite its command of the market. The annual Bordeaux futures extravaganza, which details wine that most of us will never taste, gets covered completely out of proportion to its importance to the average wine drinker. And, of course, all of those wines are red. More, after the jump:
Why is this? It certainly has nothing to do with quality, since there are great red wines and great white wines (as well as horrible examples of each). And I don't have a preference one way or the other. As I always tell people when they ask what my favorite wine is, it depends on where I am, who I'm with, and what I'm doing -- a combination that is one of the great joys of wine.
Some of it, as the commenter wrote and the winemaker implied, is snobbery. White wine isn't seen to be as serious as red wine, and no self-respecting wine writer wants to be seen writing about wine that isn't serious. How is he or she going to become famous? Won't the other wine writers make fun of them?
The other reason, as I've discussed before, is that there are two wine markets in the U.S. -- the market made up of the wine that most people drink, and the market that gets most of the attention from the Winestream Media. Since the latter isn't much interested in the former, it tends to ignore it. So anyone paying attention to the Winestream Media would get the impression that red wine was the only wine that mattered. This can be seen in the Wine Spectator's annual wine of the year award. Only one white table wine has been named wine of the year in the 23 years the magazine has done the ranking.
Explains a lot, doesn't it?