Yes, foie gras is back. Whether or not you choose to eat it is your personal choice, but unless you are a vegetarian, the cruelty argument just doesn’t seem to apply. I believe that the geese and ducks involved are in some cases raised more humanely than the cows, pigs and chickens that you/we choose to eat. (http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/01/foie-gras-new-fire-for-an-old-debate.html among others.) Although the issue keeps rearing its ugly head — a recent twitter exchange on the topic was supposedly responsible for the termination of the long-time chef at the Tam O’Shanter restaurant, according to Eater.
I’m not really one for tasting notes and heavy-duty analysis of the wines I am tasting. Pretty much: do I like it and how much do I like it? But I found the “Court of Master Sommeliers – Deductive Tasting Format” to be a pretty helpful guide in going through a tasting and analyzing why you might like or not like about what you are trying. When you don’t like a wine, is it because it is flawed, or because the wine’s characteristics just don’t appeal to you?
I’m sure you’ve heard about the study finding high arsenic levels in low-priced wines. Does this impact what you drink? See http://www.wineinstitute.org/resources/pressroom/03192015 and http://www.vinography.com/archives/2015/03/do_you_need_to_worry_about_ars.html among others. Seems to be much ado about nothing? And I don’t think you’ll find these wines on our lists of recommendations to you anyway.
With all the reality shows, especially those about food, why can’t we get one that sticks about wine? We’ve had a few over the years, but they’ve never lasted. After I wrote these two sentences, I read on Wine Industry Advisor that “pop culture icon and award winning actress Natalie Oliveros” is slated to host a travel show with an emphasis on wine. Maybe her fans who knew her as adult film actress Savanna Samson will help make this show a hit. [Note that I can no longer find the article on the Wine Industry Advisor website.]
My suggestion to you – when you’re at a restaurant and your server is opening your wine bottle, don’t engage him/her in conversation. Most bottles are pretty easy to open, right? But occasionally you get an inexperienced server or a wine cork that is a little less than perfect and next thing you know you have a wine disaster to deal with.
Scientific American published an article that originally appeared in Chemistry World. The article reported on a study that proved that wine glass shape does affect flavor. So there. [But really, they needed a study for this? What happened to good old empirical evidence?]
I really can’t help myself. The Drinks Business recently reported that, in a comparison test of Australian red wines aged under screwcap versus cork, those with screwcaps came out ahead. The wines ranged in vintage from 2001 to 2005. “An international panel of judges voted in favour of the expressions aged under screwcap, a particularly impactful result to occur on Italian soil, where this closure was until recently banned from use in many of the country’s most prestigious wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, and still remains controversial.”
Robert Sinskey of Sinkey Vineyards published an article on Eater wherein he expressed the opinion that sommeliers are more important than critics’ scores. Of course, this opened up the proverbial can of worms. My take on it – yes, if I am talking with a restaurant sommelier I respect and who I feel understands what I might like, I am probably going to take his/her recommendation over a critic who I have never spoken to. Note that I hardly ever pay much attention to scores and am more interested in how the critic describes a particular wine. It does need to be noted that the only place you are probably going to find a credentialed sommelier is at a fine dining restaurant and the rest of the time you are pretty much on your own. What do you do then? Well, you should use as many resources as possible, including us here at Eve’s Wine 101.
The Wine Economist recently shared some statistics from Wine Business Monthly showing that the largest growth in the US wine industry in 2014 took place in the segment of wines priced at $20 and above. While the industry as a whole grew by 3.4% in 2014, the $20+ segment grew by 15.7%. What struck me most though was that, while the growth in the premium wine segment was impressive, this part of the industry only made up $822 million of a $12.5+ billion industry, just slightly more than 6.5% of the total market. My point is that, fine wine drinkers make up a very small percentage of the overall wine drinking market. With the $20+ wine market only making up such a small part of the industry, and knowing that it is pretty hard to find anything good until you get well that number, one has to wonder what most people really feel about what they are drinking. As Eve asks: What’s in your glass?
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com