Subtle differences in wine

I have been nice and busy the past few weeks. And while I love being busy, it means sacrificing sleep (sleep is for the weak) and falling behind on my wine reading. I spent a good chunk of my Sunday today playing catch up – and yes, I am still WAY behind. Nonetheless, there is so much interesting stuff going on in the wine world. Gary Vaynerchuk vlogging about Israeli wines that are not kosher certified. Laurie Daniel writing about all the wine books that have been released of late (at least 3 by NY based wine industry professionals – one of whom I have had coffee with). Paul Gregutt for the Seattle Times writing about white wines of Oregon (all under $20). A San Fransisco Chronicle article about Italian varietals in California (I have had some amazing Napa Sangiovese). An Eric Asimov NYT piece about Greek wines.  All great reads, but I must admit that my eyes began to feel like they were busting out of my head…

computer eyezz

But finally, the post that really got me thinking was Wine enthusiasts’ “unreserved” blog post by Steve Heimoff “Stocalism, or why everything tastes like everything else“.

In a nutshell he uses some made up words (“Glocalism” = global + local & “Stocalism” = state + local) and ponders whether external (whether that be on the global level or state level) factors are influencing local outputs, in particular WINE. Or put another way, as considered in the movie “Mondovino” – will globalization bring about the end of diversity in wine production.

Heimoff talked about vineyard management companies and how they are dominated by a few that are pushing the same vineyard practices on so many of the vineyards for whom they work. And consulting winemakers, a phenomenon I became familiar with while working in Napa (although made popular by Frenchman & Mondovino character Michael Rolland). Here well regarded wine makers either become the official winemaker for multiple wineries or become a behind the scenes winemaker consultant. And this too he claims leads to unique wines becoming rarer and more hard to come by.

I am WAY TOO MUCH of a wine NEWBIE to really weigh in on such issues. But it struck a cord on several levels.

While traveling in Northern California a few months ago I found many of the Cabernet (or cab based blends) wines to have many very similar attributes – almost so much so that their differences became blurry. I have found Israeli wines to possess a common flavor profile (that while common throughout Israel is also unique TO Israel). And finally, my recent tasting of Loire Valley Whites, while all clearly different, seem to have shared characteristics.

Yet I wonder, is this really true that there are so many commonalities? And if it is, is that really SO BAD??

Of course we don’t want everything to taste the same. But how many times have you heard about legendary NY Pizza. There are hundreds of pizzerias in NYC. Are they all the same? How about Chicago Pizza? Or California Pizza? Do all Pizza’s made in each of the aforementioned locations taste the same? Of course not. But they are probably made with some common ingredients for a diverse population that shares much more than a zip code or time zone. A local style emerges, each with its own distinct touch. Yes, the subtle differences may be hard to detect. But they are there. They HAVE to be. And you know what, while you and I may not be able to detect those subtle differences – SO WHAT!

Sure we all strive for uniqueness. Nobody wants to be the same as the next guy. And deep down we are all unique. But on many levels we are very much the same. We wear the same clothes, have the same mannerisms, get the same style hair cuts, etc. That is just the way it is. Rather than condemning people, pizza’s or wines for being all the same, maybe we simply have to take more time to truly get to know whatever it is that is so important to us before we jump to declare that they are “just like everything/everyone else”…

Happy WHATEVER YOU LIKE Wine Tasting!


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