Thinking About Wine

Come here for a range of articles on ideas that relate to wine.

The Six Ws of Wine
When I was learning to write, my teachers told us to answer “the six Ws:” Who, What, When, Where, Why and hoW. It was and is a good lesson. In writing about or even beginning to understand any particular wine, it is essential to consider those Ws. We’ll start with the first five in order of consideration. What, Who, Where, When and hoW. First, you have to know what you’re drinking. To begin to understand a wine you need to know who made it, where it was made, how it was made, and when it was made. This all seems pretty straight forward but there is a bit more to it.
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Decisions, Decisions
Have you ever wondered why the larger Spec’s stores carry so many wines? The mother-ship at 2410 Smith Street in Houston stocks almost 12,000 different wines. The Brodie Lane store in Austin checks in with over 7200 wines. And the North-Central-Expressway-at-Walnut-Hill store in Dallas stocks almost 6500 distinct wines and is steadily growing. Surely they can’t all be that good or even that different, can they? So why are there so many different wines? One reason might be that there are so many variables in wine making that lead to so many different and distinct flavors and styles. And each of those variables requires a decision on the part of the winemaker. To really understand this, lets suppose YOU wanted to make wine. Why not? Well, actually there are lots of reasons why not. And one of those reasons is that there are SO many decisions to make.
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The Wine Disconnect
“Disconnect” is one of my new favorite words. It nicely describes the split between two models of wine production: wines of commerce and wines of place. Whether a wine is of commerce or of a place can be determined by answering two simple questions: “Who grew the grapes?” and “Who made the wine?” If the answers are company names, there may be a disconnect from a somewhere (the place of origin) or a someone (who makes the wine) – and the wine is most likely commercial. If the ready answers are actual people’s names, the wine is likely of a place. Of course, there are gray areas between the two. Whether a product of commerce or of a place, wine comes to market through the same distribution channels so who sells it is not an indicator of a disconnect. Further, the label and the propaganda (shelf-talkers, back-labels sell-sheets, web-sites, etc.) don’t always tell you whether a wine is of commerce wine or of a place.
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Thing About Wine Shipping
A neighbor stopped me a while back and asked “Are you Bear with Spec’s?” I said yes and we began to chat about wine. He asked me what I thought about shipping wine. Specifically, he wanted to know what I think about consumers buying wine in California or elsewhere and shipping it home, or consumers buying wine on the internet or on the phone and having it shipped to their homes? I allowed as to how I don’t think it is a good idea. I’ll get to my “why” in a minute. (Read More …)

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