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Are you a wine snob?

The cyber-ether has been abuzz with accusations of wine snobbery, and even Blake Gray — who recently shared a bottle of $10 South African chenin blanc with me — has been accused Read More »

winenews

Winebits 343: Dave McIntyre, wine scores, and wine in the movies

• More than well deserved: Who knew the Wine Curmudgeon would know someone who had won the same award as a Mondavi? Or the legendary Konstantin Frank, without whom U.S. regional wine Read More »

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James Garner on wine writing

James Garner, who died over the weekend, was perhaps the best TV actor of his generation. He brought intelligence, charm, and wit to a medium that makes those qualities difficult to convey. Read More »

winetrends

Another study agrees: We buy wine on price

The biggest surprise in the Wine Genome study from Constellation Brands, one of the biggest wine companies in the world? That one-fifth of us buy wine on price. “We knew they were Read More »

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Five things that make me crazy when I buy wine

Negotiating the Great Wall of Wine at the grocery store (or any retailer, for that matter) is difficult enough. But why is it that so many in the wine business go out Read More »

Are you a wine snob?

wineadvice

wine snobThe cyber-ether has been abuzz with accusations of wine snobbery, and even Blake Gray — who recently shared a bottle of $10 South African chenin blanc with me — has been accused of snobbery. Trust me: People who drink cheap wine with the Wine Curmudgeon aren’t wine snobs. 

All of this back and forth means it’s time to set the record straight. Note that wine snobbery doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with winespeak, scores or high alcohol. It’s much more nefarious than that. Hence, the Wine Curmudgeon’s eight questions to tell whether you’re a wine snob. 

• Do you tell other people what to drink?

• Do you criticize other people when they drink wine that you’ve told them not to drink?

• Do you think wine quality is a function of price, and that all expensive wine is inherently better than cheap wine?

• Do you only drink certain varietals, like cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay, because other varietals aren’t good enough for you?

• Do you only drink wine from certain regions of the world, because other regions aren’t good enough for you?

• Do you know everything there is to know about wine, and aren’t shy about telling others how smart you are?

• Do you gladly share wine knowledge with others, or are you glad you know more than they do?

• Do you remember the last time you tried a wine you didn’t think you would like?

Answer yes to more than one of the first six questions, or a yes plus a no to the seventh or eighth, and there’s no doubt: You’re a wine snob.

Wine of the week: Sara Bee Moscato NV

wineofweek

sara bee moscato Sweet wine is not easy to review, and this doesn’t even take into account that a lot of sweet wine isn’t worth reviewing — poorly made, sweeter than Coke, and as cynical as a carnival barker. Many of the Wine Curmudgeon’s readers — half? more? — will skip this review in annoyance and some will even cancel their email subscription in disgust.

But let it not be said that I am easily intimidated.

The Italian Sara Bee Moscato ($7, purchased, 5.5%) is one of the best sweet wines I’ve tasted in years, and especially at this price. Yes, it’s sweet — probably somewhere around a high-end soft drink like Jones Soda — but there is plenty of orange fruit aroma, common to the moscato grape, apricot, some wonderful “fermentato,” which translates into light, fun bubbles, and even a bit of crispness (usually missing in most sweet wines at this price).

I drank it with some delicately-spiced Indian takeout, and the sweetness correctly played off the spice. It would also work as a dessert wine; something with chocolate, perhaps? Sweet wine drinkers, of course, won’t bother with any of that. Chill it well, add an ice cube or two if you want, and enjoy.

So what’s the catch? The Sara Bee is made by Santero, a dependable producer of grocery-store priced Italian sparkling wine, but this is a private label for the Trader Joe’s chain. This means two things: Trying to get information about the wine is almost impossible, since Trader Joe’s doesn’t like to return phone calls, and you can’t buy it anywhere else. If you’re in a state without a Trader Joe’s or one that doesn’t sell wine — in New York and Pennsylvania, for instance — you’re out of luck.

This is a $10 Hall of Fame wine, but because of the availability problems, I probably won’t add it next year. But if you have $7, are near a Trader Joe’s that sells wine, and are curious about the Sara Bee, don’t hesitate to try it.

Winebits 343: Dave McIntyre, wine scores, and wine in the movies

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Dave McIntyre

That’s Dave in the middle, and he should be smiling.

More than well deserved: Who knew the Wine Curmudgeon would know someone who had won the same award as a Mondavi? Or the legendary Konstantin Frank, without whom U.S. regional wine would not have been possible? But that’s my pal Dave McIntyre, who was given the Monteith Trophy over the weekend for his work as a wine writer. Dave has done much for the cause of wine, including co-founding Drink Local Wine with me when people thought we were crazy. So it’s more than time that the wine world recognized the effort Dave has made, not only for regional wine, but for wine drinkers everywhere. Dave will be in Dallas in a couple of weeks, and I have laid in some Texas wine that we will celebrate with. Congratulations, my friend. But couldn’t you have worn a tie for a big deal like this?

End the tyranny: Or so says Michael Woodsmall at the Grape Collective, calling for an end to the 100-point scoring system. “It should be duly noted that these scales don’t take actual wine’s nuanced characteristics into account; they merely assigned values to general traits. … Also, it is no longer the seventies and eighties.”  This sentiment is something the Wine Curmudgeon has long advocated, and Woodsmall makes an intelligent argument for the end of scores, even throwing in a little political theory to explain why the debate generates such controversy. This is a revolution, and the scoreists will defend the ancien regime until the bitter end.

Hollywood and wine: The Wine Curmudgeon, in discussing U.S. wine culture in the cheap wine book, talked about Hollywood’s complete indifference to wine for most of the 20th century, and how this indifference reflected American views of wine. So I was more than pleased to see an academic study of the subject, supporting my views. Raphael Schirmer of the University of Bordeaux, writing for the American Association of Wine Economists, has found that as wine has become more popular in the U.S., so has wine become more popular in film. This is not just about Francis Ford Coppola owning a major wine company or movies like “Sideways;” rather, it’s the idea that we drink wine as part of our everyday lives, and the movies that are made reflect this.

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