An Easy Column
By: George Balling
After writing the weekly wine column for 10 years now the most challenging part at times is to come up with new subject matter. This week was made easy for me on that front as the press ran a column called the “wine guide” in the Saturday edition that was so filled with mis-information and comments that were flat out wrong that I knew I needed to write a rebuttal. It will actually be pretty easy work!
The so called “wine guide” starts out with one of those blanket statements that never applies to wine. The statement that some wines need to be aerated based on varietal is simply put absurd. Like everything else in wine whether or not to aerate a wine, any wine, is up to the consumer and what they prefer. Some wine consumers prefer to taste all the tannin and structure a wine has to offer. Others like me prefer to see how a wine slowly develops over time being exposed to air, the choice is yours to make. If you do aerate whatever you use to accomplish that will soften the tannins and cause the wine to open up in aromatics, the column though states that aerating will break down the sulfur compounds. This is false, aerating does nothing to sulfites that naturally occur during fermentation, or added sulfites that are introduced during winemaking.
The column also states that Burgundy is a strong wine. This is false as well. Red Burgundy is crafted from Pinot Noir grapes, one of the lightest bodied varietals, and while depending on vintage, some Red Burgundy is incredibly age worthy, aerating is rarely required or even suggested. Finally, this section states that opening the bottle to breath will not help a wine open up, this is a bunch of bunk, the simple act of opening the bottle, pouring it into a glass and letting it breath will absolutely evolve the wine, because it exposes the wine to oxygen.
We have addressed the aeration of wine before in our column here and one of the most effective aerators is called a Haley’s that sells for $8.50, clearly under $15, it does a fine job if you choose to aerate. The notion of pouring wine back and forth between two pitchers 15 times or putting the wine through a blender is ridiculous. This will damage the wine and actually simulate bottle shock which will diminish the flavors of the wine. Cook’s Illustrated should never be relied on for wine advice, or reviews based on this suggestion alone.
In the section called “wine trends” the writer comments on the popularity of rosé, indeed it is and has been for some time now. We have seen increased interest and demand for rosé for the full 14 years we have been here; it is not a new trend. The writer states though that the trend is in “sweet” rosé. This is laughable, in fact the trend in rosé is and has been in dry rosé where the lion’s share of both growth and total sales are. Sweet rosé continues to drop in sales volume and interest. Also, we would say that there are no rosés that drink like red wines. Rosé is light, crisp, refreshing and bone dry and this is what we sell and what consumers here in North Idaho are looking for.
Wine trends since the onset of Covid have certainly been interesting to watch, however what we have seen here at home differs quite a lot from the sources quoted. While we clearly saw an increase in wine sales at the retail level, overall sales did not see the drastic increase quoted, rather we saw quite a bit of dollar redirection. During the darkest days of the pandemic last year travel was shut down almost entirely and restaurant dining dropped significantly, while consumers were buying more wine for consumption at home bottles consumed while on vacation or at a restaurant were virtually non-existent. Additionally, we found consumers here were actually very willing to pay a bit more for the bottles they were buying moving away from “value brands”. We also found our customers were more willing to try new things and to branch out from not only local names but the well-known ones too.
We embrace the difference of opinion between wine professionals. The problems with this “wine guide” are the factual inaccuracies that don’t aid any wine consumer in finding the best bottle of wine. We are here solely to help you find the best bottle of wine for you; it is what we do every day.