do’s and dont’s – an update

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Back when this blog was young, I ran a piece called do’s and dont’s. The impetus was that I’d been reading other blogs which, at the time, were loaded with lists of things that needed to go away, things that should be encouraged, things they thought you should own and do, and so on. Is there any field of interest in the universe more loaded with know-it-alls than wine? I think not.

To be honest, I have done my share of these lists over the years. When the Seattle Times was running a Wednesday Food & Wine section, I was actually afforded the opportunity to write a wine column that often approached 1500 words, and occasionally I’d indulge in a rant. Those rants might cover any range of subjects.

I ranted in favor of the elimination of non-recyclable Styrofoam and “popcorn” packaging; I railed about the stupidity of faux “wax” capsules (which still come my way, which still look ridiculous, and are still a pain in the ass to remove); I predicated the demise of impossible-to-remove plastic corks (which has pretty much happened); I pleaded for a winnowing down of single vineyard wines especially pinots (not likely). I expressed my appreciation for wines that have well-modulated herbal components (especially cabernets and syrahs); less reliance (by the trade) on critic’s scores to sell wines; fewer wine books promising to “take the snobbery out of wine”; better coverage of Washington (and Oregon) in the big name annual wine guides; and an end to the sorry-ass trend to give wines seemingly-obscene names (like Fat Bastard) just because some people will buy them for shock value.

Well, I could go on about any or all of those topics today, some years down the road. Other predictions were easier to see coming. I predicted better pricing and QPR values at all levels in the year(s) to come. That has happened. I thought that there would be fewer and fewer over-wrought “vanity” labels started by bored rich guys and hyped by PR folks simply chasing a deep-pocketed client. The economic freefall took care of that. I said that there would be more wineries and vineyard owners taking on the challenges of earth-friendly farming – hopefully not just the mom ‘n’ pop owners, but also at the larger corporate operations, where it may be economically challenging. It’s the right thing to do, I said. It’s happening, and that’s a good thing.

For consumers, I offered a couple of useful tips. First, do you have decent stemware? If not, buy some. My favorite wine glasses at the moment are a single-size stem made in Italy and perfect for virtually any type of wine. They were selling at Costco for $3 each. Not there any longer, but you get the idea. Hunt around. Find decent stemware. Try Goodwill for Pete’s sake. It’s out there. And cheap.

Do you have a decent corkscrew? For starters, get rid of those horrid, thick-wormed monstrosities with the double levers. Buy a waiter’s corkscrew with a Teflon worm and a double hinge, and it will serve you well for many years. If you are feeling really adventurous, by an ah-so and learn to use it – sometimes they are indispensable.

You don’t need an aerator. Why do you think winemakers go to such trouble to treat wine gently, avoiding pumps wherever possible, and give it plenty of rest in barrel and bottle? So you can go out and aerate the hell out of it? That makes no sense!

Last on my short list, at least for now, is make it your goal to break out of your tasting habits on regular occasions. Try something you’ve never tried, from a place you’ve never heard of, or a grape that is new to you. Be willing to spend a few bucks on some wines that may not always thrill you. Open the doors to experimentation and the fun will follow.

I wrote this some years ago. I stand by it today. If you can take one small piece of this and apply it to your own life, it will pay you dividends.

1 comment:

Chris Wallace said...

"Last on my short list, at least for now, is make it your goal to break out of your tasting habits on regular occasions. Try something you’ve never tried, from a place you’ve never heard of, or a grape that is new to you. Be willing to spend a few bucks on some wines that may not always thrill you. Open the doors to experimentation and the fun will follow."

Truer words were never spoken! Other readers would do well to take that advice to heart.

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