It is time again to write up some wine relate news: the juicy, the interesting, the random and all other sorts of miscellaneous wine information the Wine Rambler happened to stumble upon over the past few weeks.
Let's start with one of your favourite topics, women and wine. Apparently, girls are somewhat intimidated by buying wine and they need a little help to overcome that fear: if the wine label is pink, features stilettos or if the wine is called 'Girls' Night Out' or 'Bitch', girls are apparently more likely to buy it. This is according to the Canadian National Post that recently ran an article entitled Wine, women and wrong?, asking the question: 'Do tarted-up labels do a disservice to female drinkers?' I do wonder why they do not consider that men too might want to make a wine their personal bitch?
Anyway, for the article a few wine professionals were interviewed, and while most of them are somewhat sceptic of wines produced for a specific demographic, they also seem to understand that such marketing may be necessary in a world where a million wineries compete for attention. Judging from the article, women seem to like buying their wine pretty in pink: 'Calgary sommelier Erin Rosar put together her Wine in the Kitchen kits, which launched this year - a pink hatbox that includes all the elements for a educational at-home wine party, including a DVD walkthrough of the wine tasting experience.' Seriously, can you make a wine kit sound more boring or conventional than 'Wine in the Kitchen'?
Other people are much better at coming up with good names, for instance a porn star: Savanna Samson called her wine 'Sogno Uno' - 'dream one'. And it gets even better, as she is also depicted on the label, 'in back-arched glory', as the National Post tells us in the above article. Personally, I find this much more attractive than a set of pink stilettos on a label, but until I come across that wine called 'Bitch' I will stay away from all of this and stick to boring, over-educated German labels.
A topic I will not stay away from, especially in this context, is Riesling. It is always interesting to see what international writers and press have to say about this quintessential German grape. The New York Times gets it just right to encourage the Wine Rambler's national pride by saying: 'Riesling is one of the world’s finest wines — and without question, the greatest rieslings come from Germany.' To be fair, they also link to information on Austrian and Australian Riesling and have quite a bit to say about the US too (watch out for the Finger Lakes region!).
The National Post, it turns out, is not only interested in women and wine, they also ran an article on Tracing the roots of Riesling. While the article dwells a little on the wine and especially the century old wineries of the Rheingau, it is also about wine travelling, and the author Ruby Turner comes to an interesting conclusion:
So, my answer to the question of comparing the Rheingau to Napa Valley is easy. The Rheingau by a proverbial mile. It has so many options for added value with its European charm and opportunities to explore new sights and delve into the interesting history of the world's oldest vineyards. It is a great opportunity for a wine enthusiastic to learn about the noble Riesling grape while enjoying the charms of European culture.
It is good to see that the cliché of cute old Europe attracting North American tourists still holds true. I would have loved to drink some of the 1959 Riesling that Ruby Turner tasted in the Rheingau. In that sense Germany certainly has more history than Napa. - If you happen to have a 1959 Riesling from Napa I will take that back, but only if you let me sample it!
The Atlantic features a short article on Lessons From Two Wine Tastings. While the article may only be of interest to those keen on attending a tasting at the famous Sotheby's auction house, the first sentence gives a good summary to everyone else: 'At least once a year, I like to attend a wine tasting at Sotheby's to remind myself that there is no shortage of multi-hundred-dollar wines that I don't like.'
Another wine related article has a great first sentence too, though in a very different way, and it works much better in German: 'Vinotherapien mit Traubenkernöl-Massagen und Peelings bieten ein ganzheitliches Erlebnis aus Wellness, Speisen und Wein.', which translates to: 'Vino therapies with grape seed oil-massages and peelings offer a holistic experience of wellness, food and wine.' Why do I always seem to get this esoteric nonsense labelled as 'ganzheitlich', a word that you could also translate as 'totalitarian' instead of 'holistic'? Only recently did I come across a food stall at a Munich wine fair whose owner was spreading stories about grape seed oil helping against swine flue... Also, 'Vino therapy'? Seriously, just get a nice biodynamic wine from and relax, folks! That is, of course, if the porn star's slippery red dream (see above) did not relax you in the first place.
Leaving vino therapy behind, the most interesting thing for us about wine in 2009 was probably the Silvaner grape, a variety that just celebrated its 350th anniversary in Germany. We are not the only ones to notice this grape: Wine Basket Guide recently featured an enthusiastic article on Franconian Silvaner and Franconian food (food that is notorious even in Germany for being very rich, which may tell you something about this guy's taste), while Bavarian wineries are slowly increasing the amount of Silvaner grown. That is good news - let's face it, Silvaner deserves more attention and it will certainly get it from us!
The Guardian believes that English wine too deserves (and gets) more attention, and they make a point about saying that this no longer applies to sparkling wine only: 'It has long been a "niche" market and the butt of cruel jokes. But the English wine industry is on the verge of a major breakthrough.' One of the wine brands they mention, Surrey Gold, we recently checked out in a blind tasting and it did not do too badly at all. Climate change and an increase in experience of English winemakers are cited as reasons for the increasing quality and also popularity; another reason is that at least some English customers buy local wine because of their eco-conscience.
Another article, by the way, looks into the effect of climate change on English winemaking and notes that red wine is on the rise (not only in the UK, but also in Germany and Alsace); interestingly, they also discuss economics and the fact that English wine is just more expensive than its continental competition - a reaction I had to most English wine so far. It seems to me that as long as English producers will not be able to produce a little cheaper, they will have to rely on patriotic English drinkers.
While the English wine juggernaut gets ready to take over the world, the French are developing a dedicated TV wine channel called Edonys. Shockingly, it will broadcast in French and English. Maybe this will be the end of French dominance in the wine world? What is next, I wonder? Chinese Riesling? Wait, that already exists...