Archive for April, 2008

Napa/Sonoma – update

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Had an amazing (yet extremely brief) 2 day trip in Napa & Sonoma.  Saw friends, old & new, and I am now back in San Fran and preparing to catch my red eye flight back to NYC tonight. I took notes at just about all the wineries I visited.  I expect to have a full report posted shortly after I return. 

Happy Winery hopping!

WTG

UPDATE

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

I want to apologize to you all for the infrequent posts of late. I have been “vacationing” in L.A. with family for the Passover holiday. I fly to NORCAL (AKA Bay Area, AKA Northern California) tomorrow and will be spending a quick 48 hours in wine country.

I return to NYC on May 1 and will have extensive reports on my trip…

Until then, Happy Wine Country wine tasting (to me)…

WTG

Vindicated! Pouring wine at bar/restaurant

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Friends, business partners and dates have seen me make a case out of it. While dining out, or simply sharing a bottle of wine at a food/beverage establishment, a waiter will often come over to “top off” the glasses. When I am fast enough, I will (as politely as possible) thank them and tell them “not to worry about it”, my nice way of saying don’t you dare pour another drop of the wine I just purchased into that glass. I am fully capable of pouring my own wine thank you very much.

This may sound passively aggressive, or even just plain aggressive, to some of you, but it is something I feel very strongly about (among many other things when it comes to wine service). (more…)

What do you know about wine?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

With Passover having arrived and large family (and extended family) meals (and seders) taking place I seem to have become somewhat of a clergy. As the wine is poured it is inevitable that someone around the table will announce the presence of The Wine Tasting Guy. At which point open confession begins. The two most common confessions being either “I know nothing about wine” or “I’m embarrassed but I only like sweet wine”.  I both love and hate hearing these common confessions.  I love them as they provide an indication that the confessor has an appreciation for wine, albeit one that has yet to be flushed out.  But I hate such confessions as they indicate an insecurity on the part of the confessor, something that likely resulted from an encounter with a dreaded “wine snob”.

I have preached many times before in this space that people need to trust their palates.  YES, trying new wines MAY lead to a palate that can/will evolve beyond the sweet stuff.  And YES, speaking (and drinking) with people who are more knowledgeable may lead to a better understanding of wine.  BUT…

Wine is food, or at least a lot like it in many ways. We get used to foods that are introduced to us as kids.  We either maintain an open mind and introduce ourselves to new foods and flavors or we don’t.  And we don’t seek out approval from others to decide for us whether or not we LIKE a food.  We try it and we either like it or not.

Wine is (or at least should be) the same way.  Try a wine & decide whether or not you like it.  That is all there is to it.  Forget the label, the price tag, the critic’s rating, or any nonsense some Wine Tasting Guy told you.  Nobody can tell you what will suit your palate.

I must confess that I do enjoy speaking about wine with those to whom it is of interest.  And I do not mind the aforementioned wine confessions.  I suppose this whole post has been about removing the pretension from wine so that more people would feel comfortable trying wine (or new wines) without having to worry about someone looking down their noses at them.

Happy open minded wine tasting!!

WTG

Polaner Selections Spring Portfolio tasting

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

For the second year in a row I was fortunate to be able to attend the Polaner Selections Spring portfolio tasting.  This event has hundreds of wineries from countries all over the world, each one with at least one and at times as many as ten or more wines.  There were some great wines at this event as well as some amazing winemakers who come to the event to meet the people serving/selling their wines.

BUT, the event is simply too big & hectic.  I met a winemaker there whom I had met at a previous tasting.  The tasting he attends is a very small & varietally specific tasting.  The smaller tastings afford guests the opportunity to really taste through ALL the wines and speak with the respective winemakers.  The larger tastings, such as this one, while full of fabulous wines, are simply overwhelming.

I apologize to those of you looking forward to this post.  I’ll be leaving town within the hour and do not want to take my tasting notes with me.  I’ll post my standouts from the tasting in greater detail when I return in two weeks.  In the meantime I will post throughout my trip on other wine related STUFF.

Happy Passover, Easter or whatever you may be celebrating ( I hope you are celebrating something)!!

WTG

BONDING over a shared love of wine

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I have long been a fan of “male bonding”. B.S.-ing with my buddies.  Yet I often laugh that men don’t regularly engage in deep heartfelt conversation. The bonding is usually over women, sports, or some other common interest. Yet bonding of this sort only lasts SO long (in my experience). Real bonding requires a great shared history &/or a common passion, one as intricate and complex as wine.

I have formed many friendships/bonds over wine the past few years. People I have met in Israel, Napa or NYC. The bond created by wine is very real and once formed, a bond that can be rekindled at any moment.

I bring this up today as I have had two great “wine bond episodes” this week. The first was a person I was randomly put in touch with as a fellow wine lover. After an email introduction I met this person at the Bordeaux tasting this week and had a “partner in crime” at the tasting. As seriously as I take tastings and as much as I don’t mind them alone, isn’t everything in life more fun when you can share it with someone who shares your passion?! (more…)

“Today’s Bordeaux” tasting event

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

I attended this event for the second year in a row at The Altman Building in NY city. The event features 100+ (they say 100, but I’m told it is closer to 110) wines from Bordeaux at reasonable (sub $30) prices. So no Margaux and no Petrus, but some very nice wines for wine professionals to consider for their bar, restaurant … or blog post as the case may be.

I really like this event for a few reasons. (more…)

New World vs. Old World Wine

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

As I weave my way through the maze that is the wine world I often meet people who are lovers of EITHER “Old World” wine OR “New World” Wine. As I understand it there are two main distinctions between the “Old” & “New” world wine producing countries; history & style.

The first distinction is that “Old World” implies countries that have long traditions for wine production such as France, Italy, Germany & Spain. While “New World” locations, such as The US, Australia, New Zealand, South American countries (such as Chile & Argentina) and even Israel, have entered into the wine making fray within the last 20-50 years (or re-entered as the case is with Israel).

The other distinction between Old & New World, has to do with wine STYLE. Old world style wines tend to be less fruit forward, lower in alcohol, posses the capability for longer aging, and at times are not very approachable (read: drinkable) in their youth (as a result of overpowering tannins, high acidity, etc). While new world style wines are often fruit forward wines (grown in regions where the temperature/climate leads to ripe fruit), whose alcohol is higher (generally greater than 12-13%), ageability is questionable (if for no other reason than a lack of history to verify its age worthiness) yet are often more approachable in their youth.

SO, which is better???

(more…)

Wine is HOT!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Hot is a descriptor used by people to describe a wine that is high in alcohol and unbalanced (there can be high alcohol wines that are balanced and soft – think some Zinfandels). But that is not what I am talking about here. I read a couple of articles today that has reaffirmed my belief that my transition into the wine industry was a wise one.

The first was an article in Decanter Magazine entitled “US Wine Purchases Soar Despite Looming Recession“. While I don’t much care for the “looming recession” part, it was really the “US Wine Purchases Soar” part that I liked. They are saying the US market for wine is now generating $30 Billion, 8% higher than in 2006, and this is key “as consumers gravitated toward premium wines from home and abroad”. I like this part too as it tells me that more people are seeking out better quality wine (a phenomenon known as “trading up”) and as a result producers are going to have to produce better wine to survive. Even the lower end producers are going to have to produce higher quality wine, which means better wine at competitive prices for wine consumers.

Other interesting facts from the article are that the US has now further cemented its position as the worlds biggest wine market dollar wise and will shortly (if not already) surpass France & Italy as the largest volume wise.

However none of this is new news as it has been anticipated for several months if not years.

What is new news (to me at least) is that we are getting an online wine video site. In what appears to be a press release sent out by the company entitled WineTasteTV.com Unveils the Ultimate Online Video Destination for Wine” WineTasteTV calls itself “the worlds most comprehensive online television channel for wine”. They will apparently be posting wine related video’s covering everything wine, from reviews, tastings & pairings, to education and wine related events. This is exciting news and I’m sure to be a frequent visitor. Now if there were only more hours in the day…

The press release goes on to mention that “The wine business has exploded in recent years with approximately 75 million wine drinkers in the U.S. alone” – WOW, that is a big number!

All very exciting stuff for wine loving enthusiasts like myself. I wonder if WineTasteTV will hire me to do films about my wine adventures. Now THAT would be a great job!

OK, that is all for today. But stay tuned as I’ll be writing about another interesting article I read relating to French Wines…

In the meantime, happy wine video watching.

WTG

European Wine prices going up – another good reason to drink Israeli wine

Monday, April 7th, 2008

OK, so who really needs an excuse to drink good Israeli wine anyway ;)

But seriously, with prices for wine increasing worldwide, now is a great opportunity to try some Israeli wines you may not have previously considered.  I bring up the “surge” in European wines as a result of reading an article in the NY Post.  The article quotes buyers who have called the price increases “insane” and talk about the “magnitude” of European wine prices.

Other factors leading to higher prices throughout the industry are the drought in Australia and the illegal worker act in California.  All these factors are leading to higher costs that are now being passed along to the consumer.

Back to Israeli wines for a second, these too have slowly risen in price of late.  But aside from a few standouts many of the best Israeli wines found in the US today have remained at a steady price point.  Also, keep your eyes out for new wines from Israel being brought into the US over the next several months.

Sorry to be the barer of rough news, but their is always a silver lining.  Discovering that new “hot” region before it gains public recognition and its prices subsequently increase -  means trying lots of new wines, and who doesn’t enjoy that?!

Happy new wine region tasting!

WTG