Tag Archives: wine refrigerators

Ask the WC 15: Wine consumption, wine refrigerators, wine tastings

wine consumptionThis edition of Ask the WC: European wine consumption, and why they’re drinking less; plus, wine refrigerators and how much wine the WC tastes a year.

Because the customers always have questions, and the Wine Curmudgeon has answers in this irregular feature. You can Ask the Wine Curmudgeon a wine-related question by clicking here.

Hi, WC:
You recently wrote that “European producers keep pulling out vines in the wake of reduced wine consumption in France, Spain, and Italy.” Why is that? Why are they drinking less?

Dear Surprised:
European wine consumption has been steadily declining for years, thanks to stricter drunk driving laws, the aging of the population, and younger drinkers turning away from wine. Sound familiar? Having said that, Europeans still drink more wine per capita than we do — about one bottle a month for Americans compared to four bottles per person in France.

Oh Cheap Wine One:
I’m thinking about buying a wine refrigerator. Do I need one?
Chilling out

Dear Chilling:
Probably not, unless you’re buying wine that needs to age. And most wine doesn’t. The usual figure is that 90 percent of the wine in the world is made to drink within a couple of years of its vintage. In which case, use the fridge — take a cold white wine out about 20 minutes before you want to drink it, and chill a red for 20 or 30 minutes before opening.

Hello, Wine Curmudgeon:
You must write hundreds of wine reviews a year. Do you really taste that much wine? How much do you taste a year?

Dear Curious:
I write about 200 reviews of some sort on the blog each year (which doesn’t include reviews and the like for my freelance work). All told, I probably taste a couple of thousand wines a year between trade tastings, competitions, and drinking at home. It’s like my pal Dave McINtyre says: “It’s not so much that my palate is better is yoursd. I just drink a lot more wine than you do.”

More Ask the Wine Curmudgeon:
Ask the WC 14: The wine availability edition
Ask the WC 13: California chardonnay, grip, affordable wine
Ask the WC 12: $5 wine, varietal character, negative reviews

Winebits 224: Craft beer, wine bloggers, wine snakes

Listen up, wine business: Jules Van Cruysen's article in Palate Press, "What the wine idustry can learn from craft beer," is nothing short of brilliant. He points out why craft beer does so well with the same people that the wine business has so much trouble reaching, and "The answer is simple ? they have mobilized their consumers around a set of shared principles to advocate on their behalf ? not only to drink craft beer, but to demand it at restaurants, bars and liquor stores and to force it into the hands of family and friends." You mean that works better than elitist and unintelligible wine reviews and point scores? Hard to believe, isn't it?

? Most influential wine bloggers: And the Wine Curmudgeon didn't make the list (which isn't suprising, is it, Groucho?) The nine names includes some surprises, no women, and someone who doesn't blog any more. It comes from the respected Paul Mabry at the Vintank consultancy in Napa, who I'm not quite sure expected the reaction to the post (if one feels like wading through the comments). One of the nine was our pal Lenn Thompson at New York Cork Report, who does yeoman work with regional wine. 

? Remember the wine fridge snakes? They were rescued from a construction project in suburban Chicago in February, when their habitat was destroyed, and placed in a wine refrigerator to finish hibernating. Turns out, reports the Chicago Tribune, that all is well. The 82 snakes were released last week into a new, specially designed snake den in a state park. No word yet on what the wine fridge will be used for next.

Better living through wine refrigerators

image from featherfiles.aviary.com

Yes, I agree: White wine goes better with hibernation.

Three Chicago-area environmentalists have likely saved hundreds of endangered snakes by moving them to a 6-foot tall wine refrigerator — maybe just like this one. The story, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, is impressive:

Construction on old railroad tracks uprooted the snakes' winter den, where they were hiberating. The garter, brown and western fox snakes would have died if they had not been moved to a 6-foot-tall wine chiller in north suburban Lake Forest. The snakes are living in the fridge in boxes filled with leaves and soil to simulate their wild hibernation dens, about 20 to a box.

"The wine chiller acts as an artificial hibernating den," Rob Carmichael, curator of the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest, told the Tribune. "It can be set right at the temperature snakes need to survive in winter ? about 48 degrees." This spring, when it's time for the snakes to wake up, Carmichael will raise the temperature in the refrigerator to 60 degrees to simulate warmer weather.

The story does not say where in Lake Forest the snakes are living, but the Wine Curmudgeon is sure they are in good hands. Lake Forest is a very ritzy suburb on Lake Michigan, and its residents are not only wealthy, but old money. I know this first-hand from time spent in my youth caddying at the Onwentsia Club, which earned a passing mention in "The Great Gatsby."

So the snakes may well be in someone's personal wine refrigerator, with the wine moved out to make room for them. And, knowing Lake Forest, that would be very impressive wine. No doubt Jay Gatsby would have approved.

Photo courtesy the Illinois State Museum, using a Creative Commons license