Wine news; wine counterfeiting & burnt rubber wines

I try to stay current, but I am not a newspaper guy.  For a time I was, but the piles of newspaper sections I saved to read the next day (and never did), contributed to the “walls are caving in” feeling of a seemingly shrinking (small to begin with Manhattan) apartment and led me to give up paper and opt instead to get my news online.  One such online source is the daily email I get from the NY Times.  I also get several wine related alerts both from the NY Times and from google.

You were forced to suffer through that irrelevant dribble due to the source of the 2 news stories that caught my attention on this day – BOTH from the NY Times.

The first, an article sent to me by buddy Dave, is a piece written by Robin Goldstein.  In the article, “Are Empty Wine Bottles on eBay Being Used for Counterfeiting?“, Goldstein wonders whether (as the title suggests) purchasers of empty bottles are purchasing said bottles to refill them and pass them along to unsuspecting buyers as the real thing.  A rather unsettling thought given the exorbitant asking price for some of these collectible bottles.  Counterfeiting is not a new phenomenon, and I have read about technologies being developed to test the authenticity of wine in the bottles.  Either way, given storage issues, one must seriously consider the source they are buying from – whether buying a $20 bottle or $2,000 bottle.

Of further interest, an item mostly unrelated, but also in the NY Times, is that of the negative biased towards South African wines.  The article by Barry Bearak, “A Whiff of Controversy and South African Wines“, talks a bit about the biases (or stigmas if you will) that have developed as a result of some scathing reviews for South African wines.   Bearak tells of the wine critic who chastised a large group of South African wines for their off putting burnt rubber aromas.

The result is an industry that has taken issue with its image when it seems that only a sample of (well intended but) seemingly improperly trained winemakers allowed certain sulfide compounds to develop in their wines, resulting in these off putting aromas.

While both this aroma issue and the resulting stigma are serious problems it leads me, and Israeli wine advocate, to wince in empathetic  pain.  Israeli wines have suffered the Manishewitz stigma for FAR TOO LONG. (Incidentally, Manishewitz is & always has been made in NY state – not that there is anything wrong with NY state wines.)  Countless articles about Israeli wines have begun with the line “this is not your (insert previous generation reference)’s Manishewitz – Israeli wines have improved by leaps and bounds…   BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.  Prejudice, bias, stigma, generalization – whatever you want to call it, it SUCKS.  How about starting an article about Israeli wines by saying that “although unbeknown to most, Israel has been producing world class wines for nearly 30 years now”?

I don’t want to belabor the point.  But I do hope that people begin/continue to give wines from ALL OVER THE WORLD a chance just as they give cuisine from all over the world a chance.  Sure you might end up with something less than what you hoped, but at least you gave it a fair chance and were not influenced by archaic or minority samples that tainted the reputation of the whole.

Happy bias-free wine tasting!


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