Tag Archives: green wine

Winebits 538: Wine competition judges, legal weed, green wine

wine competiton judgesThis week’s wine news: How do we improve the quality of wine competition judges? Plus more indications that legal weed will hurt wine and consumers’ attitudes toward green wine

Judging the judges: Jamie Goode at the Wine Anorak asks the question that all of us who judge wine competitions should ask – how can we increase the diversity and quality of the judges? This is a question that has come up increasingly over the past several years, with little consensus about what needs to be done. Interestingly, writes Goode, “It’s not always the famous people or the people with letters after their name who turn out to be the best judges. [I know some MWs who have passed a difficult blind tasting paper, but who are weak, inconsistent judges.]”

• Marijuana vs. wine: Tom Wark talks about a report that offers three reasons why legal marijuana poses a threat to wine sales, something we’ve talked about before here. Writes Wark: “I highly recommend reading this article because it offers a logical and well-sourced argument why the wine industry ought to be worried.” Intriguingly, legal weed can sale its health benefits, which is something I’ve never thought about (probably too many Cheech and Chong bits in my youth). Wine, on the other hand, has always seemed torn about whether wine and health was a good thing.

Green wine: The Wine Market Council reports that regular wine drinkers like the idea of organic and organically-produced wines, and might even pay more for them. But the study doesn’t address why the market for green wine is almost non-existent, and especially when compared to other organic fruits and vegetables, as well as meat, pork, and chicken. One reason, which the report hints at, is the confusion between terms: organic wine is different from organically-produced wine, while both are different from biodynamic and sustainable.

Does organic wine taste better?

organic wineDoes eco-friendly wine — organic wine, wine made with organic grapes, or made with grapes farmed sustainably — taste better than conventional wine? Apparently so, says a recent study, and those results are quite surprising given the history of green wine.

Magali Delmas, an environmental scientist at UCLA who has studied eco-friendly wine over the past decade, was almost surprised at the answer. Her most recent study — “Does organic wine taste better?” (written with Olivier Gergaud of the KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux and UCLA’s Jinghui Lim) comes to the conclusion that it does.

That’s news to many of us, myself included, who see green wine as costing more without necessarily tasting any better. Yes, we understand that the extra cost is a good thing, in the way that green production methods are usually a good thing. But few see the extra cost as better quality, in the way that a more expensive organic tomato tastes better. In fact, says Delmas, that perception is so common in wine that two-thirds of producers who do eco-friendly wine don’t label it as such on the bottle.

Nevertheless, she says, there does seem to be a quality difference that can be measured statistically (and allowing for the fact that scores are the only way to measure quality statistically). Delmas and her colleagues used ratings from the Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Spectator for 74,148 California wines made between 1998 and 2009; the result, after using sophisticated math to allow for vintage differences, the age of the wines, and critical bias (actually one of the most interesting parts of the study): “eco-certification is associated with a statistically significant increase in wine quality rating” by about one-half point.

So why hasn’t anyone figured this out? Delmas cites the confusion inherent in green wine, where an organic wine is different from a wine made with organic grapes, and which isn’t the case for organic tomatoes. In addition, does sustainably farmed really mean anything? And where does biodynamic fit? In addition, growing an organic tomato is straightforward compared to making a green wine, which further confuses the issue.

My guess? That most green wines are made with better quality grapes by better winemakers, and would likely score higher even if they weren’t green. Generally, cheap wine isn’t green, and the added cost of going green works against the process in which cheap wine is made to hit a certain price and not to taste a certain way.

New features for the blog?

Ask the WC 4: Green wine, screwcaps, mold

Ask the WC 4: Green wine, screwcaps, moldBecause the customers always write, and the Wine Curmudgeon has answers every six or eight weeks or so. Ask me a wine-related question by clicking here.

Mudge:
What’s the difference between organic and biodynamic and regular wine? I know about organic tomatoes, but this is just confusing.
Not sure what any of this means

Dear Not Sure:
It is confusing, because organic for wine doesn’t mean the same thing that it means for vegetables or fruits. Organic wine is made without added sulfites, which is different from wine made with organic grapes. And biodynamic, like wines from Bonny Doon, takes organic farming to another level. And, interestingly, green wines are not as popular, relatively speaking, as other green products.

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Dear Wine Curmudgeon:
I was at a dinner party the other night, and someone brought a bottle of wine because they liked the closure, which was some kind of screwcap. Do people really buy wine based on whether it has a screwcap? As opposed to how it tastes, because this wine tasted like gasoline.
You’ve got to be kidding

Dear Kidding:
I don’t know that anyone has done a study, but anecdotal evidence suggests just that. I recently had lunch with a 20-something woman who makes expensive wine in California, and she said that she will buy a screwcap wine, all things being equal, if she is in the store looking for a bottle for dinner. I have heard that many times, and I do it myself, too.

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Dear Jeff:
I recently opened a bottle of wine, and the cork was kind of moldy. My husband said we should throw it out, that we would get some kind of disease. I hated to waste it, since it was an expensive bottle, and I am as cheap as you are. We did drink it, but I have been wondering: Was the wine OK to drink?
Worried about mold

Dear Worried:
You’re safe — mold on a wine cork is a sign the bottle has been stored properly, and is not like mold on bread, which you do want to throw out, regardless of how cheap you are. Typically, moldy corks will only happen to older and more expensive wines that people have been aging, and it’s not a problem with most of the wine we drink.

More Ask the Wine Curmudgeon:
? Ask the WC 3: Availability, prices, headaches
? Ask the WC 2: Health, food pairings, weddings
? Ask the WC 1: Loose corks, cava, unadulterated wine