This week’s wine news: The perils of blind tasting – even for experts. Plus cash and the three-tier system and too many grapes to harvest
• Whoops! What happens when a high-end sommelier does a blind tasting for an audience? Check it out in the video at the top of this post, part of an advertising campaign on the 750 Daily website. Let’s just say it was not pretty – identifying a 2018 Italian pinot grigio as a high end white Rhone blend. The Wine Curmudgeon, who is one of the worst blind tasters he knows, has much sympathy for the sommelier.
• Follow the money: What happened after the Pennsylvania legislature voted to allow limited supermarket wine sales in 2016? Several legislators who played a key role in the bill’s passage went to Europe, courtesy of “campaign donations.” The story, reported by three Pennsylvania newspapers as part of a year-long investigation, shows just how prevalent cash is in oiling the three-tier system and why reforming it is so difficult. The donations paid for “overseas and cross-country travel, sports tickets, limos, dinners, cuff links and country club memberships. Among the hidden spending, however, the European trip stood out.” Best yet, the trips and money may not have been illegal.
• Too many grapes: What should do California grape growers do when they can’t get a fair price for their grapes? Leave them on the vine to rot. That’s the advice from two University of California viticulture experts. In other words, the predicted California grape glut seems to be underway. Western Farm Press reports that the extension agents say “in this market, the prices offered are likely to be less than the cost of production. Allowing unsold fruit to remain on the vines may seem unthinkable, yet with no income from those blocks, it makes sense. This means not dropping clusters by hand and not running a harvester in the vineyard to get the berries off.”