All posts by Wine Curmudgeon

A day in the life of a wine writer: One lunch, three tastings, and six hours

A day in the life of a wine writer: One lunch, three tastings, and six hours No one ever believes the Wine Curmudgeon when he tells them that wine writing is a lot more than sipping $100 bottles in five-star restaurants in the company of mini-skirted and leather-booted PR women.

It’s work — not mining coal or repairing roofs work, but work nonetheless. Last Thursday, I attended a wine lunch at 12:30 p.m., went to two walk-around tastings, and then did a home wine tasting as one of Two Wine Guys — all in the space of six hours. And I skipped two other events. (One sales rep said skipping them proved I wasn’t manly enough. I think he was joking.) This wasn’t a typical day, but something like it happens a couple of times a year.

Why did I do it? To taste wine that I wouldn’t normally taste, and especially expensive wine. To schmooze with other wine writers, wine executives and wine makers, which is an integral part of doing this job well. And because the point of writing about wine is to drink as much of it as possible.

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Tuesday tidbits 22

? The Wine Generation Gap: Alan Goldfarb, writing for Appellation America, describes what he calls a difference in the way younger and older drinkers approach wine. I’m not so sure his analysis is completely on the mark — blaming “digital culture” seems a little simple — but there is a difference. I tend to see it centered around how my generation came to wine, which was from drinking beer, and how younger people came to wine, which is from drinking cocktails. We saw wine as a social step up from beer, and wanted to learn how to fit in. They see wine as an extension of drinking, where a 17 percent zinfandel is no different than a fruit martini made with flavored vodka. The piece is worth reading, and so are the comments.

? Wine health update: Could raise breast cancer risk, but may prevent onset of dementia in women. One of the most fascinating developments in the wine business has been watching researchers fall all over themselves to find out if wine is healthy. Not sure why that is, other than wine research is more fun to do than the usual run of academic study. But one doesn’t need research to know that wine is good for you — enjoyed in moderation with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and no cigarettes.

? Bizarre 2008 vintage for Australia: Aussie winemakers are calling the 2008 vintage one of the strangest on record — soaring temperatures above 95 for 16 days in a row in one region, alcohol levels in some grapes above 20 percent, high even for Down Under, and one of the earliest harvests ever, eight weeks ahead of normal.

After the bottle: Trends in wine packaging

This is the first of a two-partimage look at what's new with wine packaging. On Monday, I'll look in more detail about what might replace glass bottles.

Be prepared for some big changes in the way wine is packaged, and that doesn't mean more screwtops. 

Yes, most wine is still sold in a traditional glass bottle with a traditional cork. But more wines are going to be packaged in more ways, odd though they may seem, over next couple or years ? single-serve bottles, juice boxes, and even plastic and aluminum bottles.

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Wine of the week: Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2007

image I’ll do my annual rose preview and review at the end of May, but no time is a bad time to write about rose. It’s cheap, it’s food friendly, and it’s versatile. Plus, the weekend forecast for Dallas says gorgeous spring weather, so the Wine Curmudgeon will be able to break out a bottle and sip it on the back porch.

The Santa Digna (about $10) has a little more body than many roses, thanks to the cabernet. But this Chilean wine from one of the country’s best known producers is still light and refreshing, and still pairs with everything from grilled chicken to hamburgers to pizza.

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A peek at the 2006 white Burgundies

image And they’re not bad. They’re probably not as good as the 2002 vintage, which was the best in at least a decade. In fact, tasting the 2006s Monday at a Louis Latour event in Dallas reminded me of just how terrific the 2002s were, and I’m going see if I can still find some.

The 2006s are probably closer to the 2005s in quality, and all we know for certain about 2005 is that the wines are drinking well despite being very young. This is not all that common for the best white Burgundy, which really needs to age for at least 5 to 8 years before it starts showing how good it is.

Ordinarily, wine that needs age is tight when it is young — think of a grapefruit that isn’t quite ready, when it isn’t sweet enough or acidic enough, but just sort of in between. You can tell, if you’ve eaten enough grapefruit, just how good it will be when it is ripe.

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Tuesday tidbits 21

? No champagne for Switzerland: Or, rather, a village in Switzerland can’t call its wine champagne, even though that’s the name of the village — and has been so 885. The prohibition is part of a European Union trade agreement which restricts others from using product names for well-known items like Champagne, Parma ham, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Products can only use those names if they’re made in that region. “In this village we no longer have the right to use our own name,” said a spokesman for the Swiss town.

? Wine sales in the U.S. increase again: They were up 3.9 percent in 2007, according to figures from the Wine Institute trade group. This is consistent with the last three increases. Interestingly, the dollar volume of sales (which includes all wine sold in the sold, including imports) increased 7.9 percent, as consumers traded up to more expensive wine and the weak U.S. dollar raised import prices.

? Robert Parker movie in the works: And Javier Bardem, he of the haircut in No Country for Old Men, is rumored to be interested in playing the most important man in the world of wine. Hey, I don’t make the news up. I just report it. Though this tidbit from Decanter is a bit hard to believe: “Casting is underway with Sideways star Paul Giamatti as Michel Rolland, British star Dame Helen Mirren as Jancis Robinson, and Hugh Grant taking the role of Leoville Barton proprietor Anthony Barton.” That’s an A-list cast for a movie that not a lot of people are going to care a whole lot about.