Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wine Means Red Wine......

Well, Gypsy Scholar pointed me to his blog and I feel I should probably comment(though the topic is covered very well in the links). An article in the JoongAng Daily offering advice to the wine drinkers in Korea has certainly got some issues that can be addressed.

One of the issues raised is something I had intended to comment on before reading this and that is the anxiety and fear that people feel about buying wine. Walking into a wine shop can be terrifying, yet there is no good reason for this. It is not a mysterious commodity that in order to buy and enjoy requires great depth of knowledge. I do not know a great deal about MP3 players, but I know I have certain requirements and that I can talk to a salesperson about my likes and dislikes in MP3 players, I can tell them how much I want to spend and they will show me the items they stock that match those attributes. Wine is no different.

A good sommelier or retailer will be able to talk you through the wines and find you something that will match your expectations. The best part is that these people are passionate about their product and they want to share that with you. They want you to enjoy the wine they sell and hopefully introduce you to something new. I promise you that this will be the case with 90% of the people in the wine industry. It is a passion that people want to share. Take advantage of that.

My biggest issue with the article is the line "For Lee, wine means red wine. Like many connoisseurs he regards white wine as frivolous." I can only assume that this is a little artistic license from the reporter. It just seems a ludicrous thing for anyone in the wine industry to say. I mean, just ludicrous. This is a man who clearly has a passion for French wines yet he writes off Champagne, he writes off White Burgundies, Puligny Montrachet, Chassagne Montrachet, Corton Charlemagne. He writes off Coindreau, spicy Alsatian aromatics, he writes off the great whites of the Loire, Sancerre, Pouilly Fume. German Rieslings, Austrian Gruner Veltliner, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. If he really did say this then I can only assume it to be part of some misplaced machismo. That white wine is somehow feminine and therefore, in his mind, not serious. As a wine man he really is missing out on a whole lot pf pleasure though..

The other points are covered well by the Gypsy Scholar's knowledgeable friend. Balance is good. Choosing a wine at 13.5% is a daft way to choose, though I agree that avoiding some over-alcoholic wines is a good idea. I am pleased that he can afford to indulge a preference for Red Burgundies. No, really, I am.

The other point of contention is his assertion to avoid American wines. I will admit that I am guilty of this and it is something I have been meaning to address. However, each time I'm buying a bottle I always come out with something from anywhere but America. Why? Well, in the UK, under 10 pounds, you do not get that many great American wines. At least not ones I tried. They tended to suffer from the great excesses that the Europeans criticize the Americans for, massive fruity Zinfandels with enough alcohol to put you on your back with one whiff. Merlots with the structure and balance of Bambi on ice. I developed a bad impression of them. In Korea I worry that it will be the same story but I will have to pay even more for the pleasure or lack thereof. However, I will make a promise that the next time I am wine shopping I will buy at least one bottle of American wine.

So, what is the point? Well, don't be scared by wine, you buy it, you drink it and if you like it you remember it. The old world wines can be a git to get to grips with, but a little knowledge will go a long way and could prove to be extremely rewarding. Drink red and white please. Especially now it is getting hot. A cold crisp Riesling after a hard day is guaranteed to cheer you up.
This post comes directly from my place of work and it is hot and I haven't had a drink. If it is rambling there you have your excuse....


Big Bliss said...

hmm, a "passionate and enthusiastic retailer" eh? You want to get yourself into my local Threshers. Frankly, passionate and enthusiastic are not terms that spring to mind. Last time I went in I had to get something flash for Brother in Law (not you, dear CLBIL, the other one - the scouser). I asked for help and the boy said "reds are that side, whites are there". That's why wine-buying can be a bit pants. Anyway, I've just found another of those 1996 grand annee Bollingers in the utility room. I thought they'd all gone! Yum Yum!

squirrelandgman said...

Threshers = Off License
Like Rhythm and Booze. Wouldn't go in their asking for advice would you? Unless you wanted to know where to buy drugs maybe.

Wine retailer = Oddbins or that other place........ Even Waitrose will be better than Threshers.

My point stands.

Just found a 96 Bolli did we darling...How the other half live eh?