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Category Archives: Wine Curmudgeon

Will cheap wine kill you?

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cheap wine arsenicYes, “Will cheap wine kill you?” is a great search engine headline. And no, it’s not a plot by the the Winestream Media to return us to the good old days before the recession, when they thought cheap wine was so bad that anyone who drank it deserved what they got.

Rather, it was the big wine news last week, based on testing by a Denver lab and carried on the CBS News website: Cheap California wine has lots and lots of arsenic, more than we should ingest. And it might kill you.

A few thoughts about the story after the jump, and why it reflects so badly — again — on the Fourth Estate:

Four things college students taught me about wine

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wine educationFour things college students, including my El Centro viticulture and enology class and two University of North Texas classes, taught me about wine this semester. Call it Wine Education for Curmudgeons 101:

• Regional wine matters to people who didn’t help start a regional wine group. I don’t know why this always surprises me, but it does. Maybe because when I mention it to too many adults, they look at me as if I want them to drink castor oil? But when I talk about regional and Texas wine to students, they understand the idea of local wine and its relationship to local food, and they’re more than happy to try it. Enjoy it and buy it, even.

• The emperor isn’t wearing any clothes, and he doesn’t look too good naked. We did a Napa and Sonoma tasting in my El Centro class, five wines that cost at least $40 (that I brought from samples in the wine closet). The students were not impressed, noting how commercial they tasted, how overpriced they were, and how they expected a lot more for what the wines cost. Even more surprising: They came to these conclusions on their own, without any help from me. All I do in a tasting is pour the wines, talk about who made them, and ask the students what the wines taste like. We don’t even discuss price until the end.

• The world does not revolve around cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and merlot. As someone who never met a grape, no matter how odd, that he didn’t want to try, this always makes me feel better about the future of wine in the U.S. People my age, faced with a grape they don’t recognize, tend to glaze over. The North Texas students, on the other hand, were fascinated with a dry riesling.

• People like wine I don’t like. I know this is true, but it always helps to see it in action. We did a Washington state grocery store merlot, full of fake oak, gobs of sweet fruit, and winemaking sleight of hand at North Texas. When I asked who liked it, as I always do, almost everyone did. Which reinforces the most important (and only) rule about wine: If you like it, it’s a good wine, and it doesn’t matter what wine writers, even the one teaching the class, think. Just be willing to try different kinds of wine to see if there is something else you might like.

Slider photo courtesy of Leta Durrett

The Saveur Blog Awards

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Saveur blog awardsThe Wine Curmudgeon needs your help to win one of the Saveur Blog Awards.

I don’t like to ask this, given I’m a wine writer and not a yenta who nags my readers, and most of these awards require lots of nagging. But the Saveur blog awards are a big deal for what I do, perhaps second to the James Beard Awards in the food and wine business.  So winning Saveur’s best wine blog award would help advance the cause and show the Winestream Media that wine drinkers want more than scores and winespeak. They want wine writing they can understand and that helps them find wine that’s enjoyable and affordable.

Hence this post, and my request:

Go to the Saveur site and nominate the blog by clicking on this link. The number of nominations is one of the criteria used to pick the finalists. You can nominate the blog — winecurmudgeon.com — until March 13.

That’s our goal for the next 10 days, to get enough nominations so that the Saveur editors notice the blog and begin to understand there’s more going on than they can see from their Manhattan offices. We’ll worry about winning if and when the time comes.

 

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