? Decanter goes to 100-point system: Decanter, the British wine magazine, will start scoring wines with the 100-point system in its annual buying guide. ?Introducing the 100-point system is essential as Decanter is now a global magazine with more than half its readership outside the UK, ? said the magazine. This is shocking news, not only because Decanter is giving in to something that continues to lose favor, but because it has always been the most sensible of the Winestream Media (for what that ?s worth). The reason for this, I think, is the Chinese market, which has everyone in the wine business salivating (though there is no truth to the rumor that a Chinese language Wine Curmudgeon will soon launch ? the Wine ju l ot u). The Chinese may not understand the Decanter review, but they ?ll recognize the 100-point system ? another of the legacies the U.S. has given the world, like fast food and Coca-Cola.
? Wine prices slump: Those investments in fine wine continue to look like Florida swamp land. Wine sales at the world ?s top five auction houses were down 25 percent in the first half of 2012, which coincides with the slump in the fine wine stock market. I mention these things not because it ?s actually important, but because anyone who buys wine as an investment instead of drinking it — it's the world's best wine, after all — deserves whatever happens to them. Which, frankly, I kind of enjoy watching.
? Vegetarian food: It ?s summer, it ?s hot, and we ?re eating lighter, which includes vegetarian meals. My pal Dave McIntyre looks at the difficulty of finding wine to go with vegetarian dishes, since it would seem to exclude red wine. Writes Dave: ?On the whole, I ?d say don ?t sweat it so much and feel free to experiment. ? One key ? choose wines from cultures, like Greece and Italy, that do a lot of vegetarian food.
? Wine with grilled cheese: Food & Wine's Ray Isle, who knows his way around cheap wine, has some intriguing wine pairings for grilled cheese. And not just the classic white bread and American cheese version, but several more esoteric sandwiches, including one with Italian robiola cheese and mortadella sausage. Oddly, enough, the Wine Curmudgeon made croque monsieur, the French version, and tomato soup a couple of weeks ago, pairing them with the Chateau Bonnet red. Who knew I was on the cutting edge?
? Chefs love regional wine: Local wine, for the second year in a year, is one of the top 10 restaurant trends, says the National Restaurant Associaton. It's right up there with healthful meals for kids and ahead of culinary cocktails — pretty impressive, given how much ink the latter gets. I was skeptical when local wine made the list last year, but I'm beginning to see a trend, especially as we travel the country for DrinkLocalWine and see how enthusiastic so many chefs are. (Shameless plug for DLW 2012: Denver on April 28 — tickets on sale soon through the website.)
The Wine Curmudgeon has been pondering this for a good while, trying to figure out a way to write about pairings that wouldn’t drive new wine drinkers crazy (as part of my resolution to make the blog more accessible to people who are new to wine).
Which led to the thought: Are we putting the cart before the horse? We’re telling people to pair certain wines with food under the assumption that the food will taste better. Is there any evidence to support this?
In other words, when I’m drinking an unoaked chardonnay with roast chicken, does the chicken taste better than if I had been pairing it with sweet tea or a soft drink (something I see very often in Dallas, where restaurant diners seem to drink more of the last two than the first). The answer: No one knows for sure. More, after the jump:
? Premium wine sales increasing? That's the forecast from the Silicon Valley Bank, which lends money to the wine business. It says sales of wine costing more than $20 a bottle could increase as much as 12 percent in 2011 over 2010 and that consumers seem to be ready to stop trading down. It also notes, as so many others don't, that the increase is just the first step in regaining ground lost during the recession. Expect continued discounting through the third quarter this year, and wines that cost $50 or more won't do as well.
? Bring on the lawsuits: Just when you thought that a bruised and battered wine business couldn't afford any more silly lawsuits — or could come up with any silly lawsuits — we have dueling legal challenges between MommyJuice, a Clos La Chance label introduced last fall, and Mommy ?s Time Out, an Italian brand. Wines & Vines notes that the two sides are accusing each other of various trademark improprieties, and there is even a bit of a discussion about the controversy surrounding mommy wines.
? Pairing wine and doughnuts: Or, as the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports, "Poetic Cellars, a winery tucked in the hills of Soquel, was the site Saturday for the filming of a proposed reality television pilot that matches wines of different varieties with doughnuts chock-full of sugars and jellies." What's next? Scores for doughnuts? Please save us from that: "88, with hints of caramelized sugar, day-old frying grease, and toasting cream filling."