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Wine, food, and truth in labeling

Serious food writing may be more rare than serious wine writing. Usually, it’s poetic rhapsodizing about quinoa and kale, beatifying this week’s hot chef, and barely paying attention to quality, price, or Read More »

wineofweek

Wine of the week: Arrumaco Verdejo 2014

Want to find out what real verdejo tastes like? Want to strike a blow for quality, terroir and value? Then buy the Arrumaco Verdejo. Its importer, Handpicked Selections, is one of those Read More »

winenews

Winebits 435: Wine lawsuits and legal foolishness edition

This week, more legal foolishness from the world of alcohol and wine lawsuits. Because, of course, even those of us who didn’t write “Bleak House” and “The Pickwick Papers” see the humor Read More »

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Five cheap Chiantis

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Winecast 26: Rich Cook, wine competition director

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Wine, food, and truth in labeling

winerant

wine labelingSerious food writing may be more rare than serious wine writing. Usually, it’s poetic rhapsodizing about quinoa and kale, beatifying this week’s hot chef, and barely paying attention to quality, price, or value.

That’s why it was such a pleasure to read Tampa Tribune food critic Laura Reiley, who wrote that some chefs in her region are – and there is no more accurate way to say this – liars. A variety of Tampa area restaurants that claimed they used local ingredients not only didn’t use them, but were buying the same corporate food from the same distributors that sell to the chain restaurants that those chefs love to hate.

Best yet, many of the chefs didn’t understand why they couldn’t lie about it. As one told the newspaper, “We try to do local and sustainable as much as possible, but it’s not 100 percent. For the price point we’re trying to sell items, it’s just not possible.”

So why does this matter to wine? Because, as regular visitors here know, wine also plays fast and loose with labeling. Artisan and hand-crafted, anyone?

The latest: The federal study that found that about one-quarter of wine labels incorrectly listed the amount of alcohol in the wine. Can you imagine the outcry if one-quarter of the ketchup in the grocery store made the same sort of serious labeling error?

At some point, someone who isn’t looking for an arsenic fast buck will do for wine what Reiley did for Tampa’s phony farm-to-table restaurants. And then, when the U.S. consumer finds out that their favorite $20 bottle of wine, with its expressive boysenberry and toasty mocha flavors, used Mega Purple and highly-processed wood chips to get those flavors, there will be hell to pay.

Finally, a note to newspaper bosses everywhere: Read Reiley’s story. See how well done it is. And just imagine that you had the guts and good sense to do something like that at your paper. Maybe the business wouldn’t be in such bad shape, would it?

Illustration courtesy of Tampa Tribune using a Creative Commons license

Wine of the week: Arrumaco Verdejo 2014

wineofweek

Arrumaco Verdejo Want to find out what real verdejo tastes like? Want to strike a blow for quality, terroir and value? Then buy the Arrumaco Verdejo. Its importer, Handpicked Selections, is one of those well-run but too small companies that are being squeezed by consolidation and premiumization.

The Arrumaco Verdejo ($9, purchased, 12%) is a $10 Hall of Fame wine from a Spanish producer that also does a Hall of Fame quality rose. As such, it’s completely different from the grocery store plonk that we’re expected to drink; it has interest and character and exists to do more than to be smooth.

Look for white fruit flavors and aromas (apricot?), plus a certain rich feel in the mouth that I didn’t expect and the touch of almond and lemon peel that top-notch verdejo is supposed to have. I couldn’t believe how well done this wine was after the first bottle, and went back and bought a couple more just to be sure.

Highly recommended. Drink this chilled on its own or with grilled fish, and it would also match a summer salad with lots of fresh herbs.

Winebits 435: Wine lawsuits and legal foolishness edition

winenews
wine lawsuits

“We can win that moonshine thing easy.”

This week, more legal foolishness from the world of alcohol and wine lawsuits. Because, of course, even those of us who didn’t write “Bleak House” and “The Pickwick Papers” see the humor in lawsuits:

More Champagne foolishness: Our friends at the Champagne trade association have been at it again – what the post calls their “protectionist racket” – in a lawsuit to stop an English brewer from marketing a beer called “Champale” that is made with “Champagne-style” yeast and sold in “Champagne-stye bottles.” Yes, somewhere Dickens is laughing and reaching for his quill, though the report on the TechDirt website notes the brewery won the suit and will be allowed to use the name Champale. No doubt the Champagne bully boys will come up with another plan.

Moonshine foolishness: This news has been around for a while, but it gives me the chance to comment on another of my favorite subjects, the corruption of college athletics. How else to explain the lawsuit filed against a craft distiller, who makes a product called Kentucky Mist Moonshine, by those guardians of higher learning at the University of Kentucky? Who, believe it or not, say they are the only ones legally allowed to use the word “Kentucky” for business purposes. Let me just say this, which should give you an idea how morally bankrupt I consider the university’s position to be: “Kentucky!” “Kentucky!” “Kentucky!” I will also note that the school’s basketball coach and his two assistants earn almost $10 million a year combined – a total that would pay the in-state tuition and room and board for almost 350 students. But we have to have our priorities, don’t we?

Big Beer foolishness: Diageo, one of the three or four biggest drinks companies on the planet, has won a significant lawsuit because a judge said any reasonable consumer should know that Red Stripe beer is not made in Jamaica and doesn’t use any Jamaican ingredients. This ruling comes despite the beer’s label, which says “Jamaican Style Lager” and “The Taste of Jamaica” and uses the same logo the beer uses when it is made in Jamaica and not made in Pennsylvania (in tiny letters elsewhere on the label). It’s good to know the justice system is hard at work protecting massive multi-nationals; maybe the Champagne people should have tried their case in front of this judge.

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