Category Archives: Wine news

Winebits 384: Odd grapes, wine glasses, wine lawsuit


wine lawsuitOnly seven percent: Regular visitors here know the Wine Curmudgeon’s passion for odd grapes, and it’s good to know that I’m not the only one. By one estimate, eight grapes account for 93 percent of the annual harvest in California — chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, merlot, pinot noir, syrah, sauvignon blanc, and cabernet franc. A group of winemakers, reports Marcy Gordon at Come for the Wine, wants to focus on the other seven percent, and is holding a couple of tastings this week to show off those grapes. This is most welcome news for those of us who care about diversity and variety in wine, as well as style and taste. That someone who makes wine isn’t intimidated by chenin blanc is some of the best news that wine drinkers can have.

The right way: Sommelier Stephanie Miskew writes about how to hold a wine glass correctly, which always makes me smile It’s about the only thing in wine that I’m a snob about; I can’t stand to see a wine glass held by the bowl, and when I see it in TV shows and movies I want to throw something at the screen. Miskew’s piece hits all the highlights, and it also gives me a chance to link to this: Wine Curmudgeon video, in which I demonstrate how to hold a wine glass.

Calling all lawyers: Wine’s legal experts are at it again, with a Champagne house suing a top California producer over the name of a wine. Lew Perdue at Wine Industry Insight has all of the wonderfully silly details about this wine lawsuit, including that the side are fighting over the name “Delice.” Imagine all of the time and money being spent on what seems to be a very ordinary, if not lousy, name for a wine. At least the Cristalino lawsuit was over a name that mattered.

Winebits 383: Taste buds, wine labels, Rudi Wiest

taste buds

The tongue, and the blue bits are our taste buds.

Even umami: Researchers for the first time have mapped how the tongue tastes while tasting is going on. CNET reports that the study found that each taste bud contains taste cells for different tastes — sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. But that that was only the beginning of what appears to be ground breaking work. Taste may also be affected by the blood cells surrounding the taste buds, “and involve an interaction between the food taken orally and blood composition,” said one researcher. If true, this work goes a long way toward explaining why wine tastes differently depending on who is doing the tasting. It’s not just that everyone’s taste buds are different, but that our blood is different. The story says more work needs to be done, including mapping the brain while tasting is gong on to see how everything fits together, but one conclusion is obvious: Scores, which didn’t make sense before, make even less sense if blood type and even circulation matter.

“Honest” wine labels: No, not the Wine Curmudgeon’s other great crusade (though more on that soon), but wine humor from the Huffington Post — what if wine labels identified the wine by what we used it for? Hence, the label would says “Netflix & Pizza Night” or “His Tinder Profile Lied.” Sort of funny, in fact, but more importantly goes to a point we’ve discussed often on the blog: That wine is as much about occasion as it is pairings, varietal, or even what it tastes like.

Experience mattersThe Italian Wine Guy, always alert for an opportunity to teach the young people, shares his time with German wine impresario Rudi Wiest, “I cannot tell you how it feels, at this stage of my life, to sit in front of someone for four days and be tutored by a master. It is humbling. And it is invigorating. To have been on the wine trail for as long as I have and to feel there is something totally undiscovered in the wine world which is deep, intense and engaging, well it’s as if I turned back the clock and started all over again.” Which, to me, is the point of wine. It’s the hunt; that is, that wine itself is neverending, and that I never know what I will find next. The day we stop looking, the day we’re content with 92-point toasty and oaky is the day we should give up wine and settle for sweet tea. 

Winebits 382: Liquor reform edition


liquor reformOntario does its duty: The Canadian province has made major changes in the way it sells beer, wine, and spirits, something that seemed hard to believe in a province with the Canadian equivalent of state stores. Nevertheless, liquor reform has come, and it will soon be possible to buy beer in a grocery store, buy wine online, and sleect from more interesting win in the province. And pricing will become more consumer friendly, with provincial officials vowing to negotiate better deals with producers. “The days of monopoly are done,” said Premier Kathleen Wynne. Which raises the question: If Ontario can do this, and it has been called one of the last bastions of Prohibition, why do we have such trouble reforming liquor laws in the U.S.?

Even in Texas: Sort of, anyway. The Texas Legislature is discussing whether to allow Walmart, Costco, Kroger and other publicly-held companies to open liquor stores in the state. Currently, only privately-held companies can get a license to do that, and there is even a provision in the law that forbids people who aren’t related from owning more than five stores. The Lege, as the late Molly Ivins so fondly called it, probably won’t change the law this session, but there is momentum to allow grocery stores to own liquor stores and it could happen sooner rather than later. Why they need to own liquor stores, rather than selling liquor in their existing stores, is a story for another time.

But probably not in Pennsylvania: The blog has covered liquor reform in Pennsylvania almost since its inception, and nothing ever seems to happen. That has not stopped liquor stores in Delaware, which borders Pennsylvania, from holding panicked meetings to demand reform in Delaware in case Pennsylvania actually changes its state store system. The Wine Curmudgeon has some advice for Delaware: “Chill, dude.” The day Pennsylvania gets rid of state stores is the the day I write an homage to 15 percent chardonnay.

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