Tuesday, December 4, 2012

For the Wino on Your List

For anyone who is wondering what to get the wine lover on their list this holiday season, for anyone who is going to ask me the same question over and over again - what should I get the wine lover on my holiday list this year - and for anyone who is thinking of asking me or anyone else what to get the wine lover on their holiday list this season, the answer is very simple... In fact, you have already answered it.

If the questions was, "what should I get the wine-trinket lover this holiday season" or "what should I get the person who loves wine-themed kitchenware this holiday season," the answer may be different. However, I speak for all wine enthusiasts when I say what all wine lovers really want for Christmas is wine.

Yes, that $60 vacu-suck/pump wine opener is neat, but if the person has become the "wine-lover" on your holiday list, they already know how to open the bottle. Similarly, the wine-lover on your list doesn't need a cheap wire frame that is shaped like a wine bottle for their corks, silicon replacement corks that look like Star Wars characters, charms to distinguish wine glasses from one another, a necktie with wine names and labels on them or even bedazzled wine glasses.

All of these purchases seem like a great idea after two or three different wine tastings. That is why every winery on the planet stocks them. But all these gifts, while well-intended, won't be as appreciated and may not even go to use. I have a good-sized box of wine accessories that I have been given over the years tucked away in a closet. I doubt I am alone.

Unless the wine-lover/wino on your list has specifically asked for a new corkscrew, bedazzled wine glasses for special occasions or any number of other wine-related items, get them wine. It will be much more appreciated than any sort of wine-related gift could be.

"But I don't know anything about wine," is a common reply when I tell people to forgo the gimmicks and just give the wine-lover on their list wine. To that, let me just say that it doesn't really matter. It's the thought that counts. If you aren't a wine lover, you aren't expected to be one. Nor are you expected to shell out more than you are comfortable with to get an exclusive wine.

One of the great things about the current state of the wine industry is you can get really good, interesting bottles at just about any price range. I have sung the praises of Chilean Merlot in a previous post. You can get really good bottles of the stuff for under $10. If you are looking to spend a bit more, there are plenty of options under $20, under $30, under $40... You get the point. What's even better, if you are shopping for a wine-lover and know nothing about wine, staff at whichever wine store you go to will be happy to help you.

The few suggestions I would give is stay away from wines with cartoon animals on the label, and during colder months, more people drink reds than whites. Sparkling wines are always a good alternative - and given the growth in cavas from Spain and some really good domestic brands - sparkling wine does not need to be a bank-breaking gift, either.

If you choose to go with the tried and true, Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, Barolo from Italy, the famed wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy or the Rhone are always great go-tos.

If you want to get your wine-lover something from an less well-known appellation, try Pinot Noir from Oregon, Carmenere from Chile, Malbec/Merlot blends from Argentina, Pinotage from South Africa or Petit Verdot from Virginia.

Whatever you get for the wine-lover on your list, they will appreciate it. It's always easier to find space for another bottle of wine than it is to cram yet another trinket into a box of wine-related gifts of Christmas past.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wines I'm Thankful For

This time of year, there seems to be a lot of chatter both in the wine blogger world as well as in the dead tree wine press about two topics: great wines for Thanksgiving and great gift wines. The former is a rotating crop of up and coming wines from new regions - one year Malbec from Argentina was the greatest wine ever for Thanksgiving. Rioja, Pinot Noir, Cotes du Rhone and Chianti have all also held that distinction for reds, while Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Torrontes have all had a share of the limelight for white wines for Thanksgiving. Ultimately, these reports all end by saying that people should drink what they like - and maybe get something a little nicer than usual for the occasion.

Holiday gift writing tends to explain why wines in the $30 and up are worth it for non-wine drinkers and explain why certain wines cost what they do and why, for a gift, they are worth it. These usually end with a little joke that the card should indicate that in five years, the giver would be happy to help the recipient drink the gift wine.

To do something little different, I wanted to offer up a list of the types of wines I am most thankful for this year. These are not, necessarily, good wines for Thanksgiving. Nor are any of them really good gift wines unless you are a cheapskate. Rather, these are the wines that I find myself cracking open more often than not on a regular evening, or that I have come to appreciate throughout this last year.

1. Chilean Merlot. Chile and Washington State have put Merlot back on the wine map, and Chilean Merlots - with an abundance of dark fruit, chocolate, spice and earth - almost always punch above their weight. Usually under $10, Chilean Merlots have become some of the best value, versatile, everyday drinking wines out there.

2. Virginia Cabernet Franc. I have written a lot about this wine on this blog, and with good reason. The quality and diversity of the Cabernet Franc produced in Virginia continues to grow and is helping to pave the way wider acceptance of Virginia wines in general.

3. Virginia Viognier. Viognier is doing for Virginia white wine what Cabernet Franc is doing for reds. If word gets out on how good Virginia Viognier really is, it could become a go-to white of choice for Chardonnay drinkers looking for something a bit more complex and aromatic as well as Pinot Grigio drinkers who are looking for more body. With its melon, slate and honeydew flavors, it is also a great brunch wine.

4. Cotes du Rhone. While these wines are still gaining and popularity - and increasing in cost - you can still get some very good ones under $15 that are full of clove, spice and blackberries.

5. Grenacha. Spain's second major red wine varietal is starting to gain attention. While these big, bold and smokey wines can be a little rough around the edges, there are some great values out there - especially if you are looking for bigger, more full-bodied wines that pack a punch and are a great value.

6. Argentine Sauvignon Blanc. Let's face it - California Sauvignon Blanc under $15 is rarely good, and the New Zealand stuff is good, but can be fairly acerbic. Argentina is coming into its own with this varietal. There is still the minerality and slate of the New Zealand stuff, but without the over-abundance of gooseberry that turns some people off. These are great light, crisp and refreshing wines.

7. Blends. While pretty much all wines are blends - you only need 75% of a single varietal to put the name on the label - winemakers are becoming more comfortable to put "red blend" or "white blend" on the label. Of course, Bordeaux is still making great wines which, by law, need to be blended, but the trend is catching on in the New World, too. Blends offer depth and complexity that you can't get otherwise. And as long as you stay away from the overly-sweet blends, there are some really good values available.

All of the wines are simply the ones I have developed a greater fondness and appreciation for this year, and all of them tend to have great cost-to-value ratios. During the season of holiday parties, dinners and happy hours, any of these wines would make great gifts or things to order off the menu that won't break the bank, but will leave you satisfied.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Virginia Wine Month has Come and Gone

Every year, it seems as though Virginia Wine Month gains a little more attention and does a little bit more promotion. It's year, they even had a slick advertisement that ran on Hulu praising Virginia wine during the month.

It stands to reason that Virginia Wine Month continues to improve its outreach because the quality of Virginia wine continues to improve and more and more people see wine produced in Virginia as a viable option. True, there are still plenty of challenges in making Virginia a wine-producing region on par with stalwarts like France, California or Italy or Argentina, it is developing its niche among those who are willing to pay a little more for local as well as those eager to try wines from new and unique wine regions. And while Virginia wine will never compete with the likes of Australia or Chile when it comes to price, there are now some Virginia wines that can more than hold their own when it comes to quality.

Virginia Wine Month is also a great time to gauge the state's winemakers on how the harvest went and what the upcoming vintage will be like. Now that another Virginia Wine Month is behind us, this is the perfect time to get out to some of the wineries and start tasting Virginia wines that may be good options for Thanksgiving. The state is producing some very nice light-to-medium drinking Chambourcins with cranberry accents that would be the perfect addition to any Thanksgiving.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Land of Stout and Whisky

"Whiskey" - with an "e" is Irish. "Whisky" sans "e" is Scottish

We recently returned home from a two-week trip to Ireland and Scotland. And no, that isn’t a gloat, it is simply an introduction to the rest of this post. I will also say right up front that I did not try any of the few wines that the two countries are now producing – everyone has their limits. I did try some of the beers and the whiskys that the Isles are known for, and was also shocked to discover how much Chilean wine is available in both places.

Yes, I prefer Murphy's but this is still a picture of happy
Ireland, of course, is almost synonymous with Guinness. You can get it almost everywhere, and it is drank by all echelons of society and enjoyed with a combination of passion and patriotism that is hard to compare to anything similar in the United States. But Guinness isn’t the only show in town. While it is true that the microbrew craze has not caught on in Ireland in nearly the same way it has here, there are alternatives. Based on a tip from Aiden, our tour guide, I tried Murphy’s Irish Stout and actually prefer it to Guinness. True, it doesn’t have the adorable advertising campaigns and omnipresence of Guinness, but it does have a bit more body and taste than its bigger rival. It is harder to find outside of Cork and its surrounding area, but is well worth the search.

Crean's from the Dingell Brewery is one of the
few microbrews we encountered. 

Scotland, too, has its beers and its ciders, though given that they name their whisky after the country itself, it is safe to assume that scotch is the drink of choice. And with good reason. My wife was a good sport and accompanied me on two different distillery tours – Glenlivet and Oban. The tours are very similar, as there is not that big of a difference in how one whisky is produced compared to another one. Like wine, you can detect different flavors from whisky to whisky. Oban seems to really emphasize its orange peel characteristic.

I did ask our guide at Glenlivet if in professional whisky tastings the judges spit as they do in wine tastings. She gave me an odd, quizzical look and then replied, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone spit out whisky.” I suppose whisky and wine are viewed and judged differently, though I can’t imagine a full day of scotch-tasting and still being able to judge objectively, or retain any of your faculties to any great extent.

The Oban Distillery. Cold, rainy and windy weather calls for whisky.
While both Ireland and Scotland have their beverages of choice, wine is readily available in both countries. The only American wines I noticed were either the high end wines on exclusive lists, such as Dominus or Opus One, or the low-end hobo wines like Paul Masson that were available in supermarkets in carafes. Most places served either French – Bordeaux Superior or Cotes du Rhone – or Chilean wines by the glass. Many of these were decent, some hardly drinkable, though I always got what I deserved asking for wine in a culture that so favors beer and whisky. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hello, Old Friend

Life gets busy, the "to do" list grows and things like blog posts tend to be pushed to the side. I had no idea that I haven't updated Beltway Bacchus since mid-June! Bad me. 

So here is a placeholder post on nothing in particular - just an excuse for me to dust off the old keyboard...

Some ideas for upcoming posts, to entice you to return will be:

1) Empty bottles I have been meaning to write about
2) What's in the wine rack now
3) The second part of our trip to Charlottesville
4) Our first trip to Northern Virginia wineries of the year
5) Special posts on whisky and scotch from our upcoming trip to Ireland and Scotland
6) BJ's vs Costco's wine departments

If there is anything else wine-related on your mind, please let me know. Otherwise, I will do better to update this blog more than once every two months. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Enter the Octagon

For a while now, there has been one wine that has been showcased as the best of the best that Virginia makes - Barboursville's Octagon. And with good reason. The blend changes every year based on the quality of the season and the grapes at hand. Still, it remains a true Bordeaux-style blend consisting of the Noble Grapes of the region. Of all the vintages I have tried, every Octagon has had characteristically smoothness packed with flavors of cassis, plumb and dark chocolate.

Octagon has become a showcase wine because of its quality vintage after vintage. Imagine the pleasure people get once they realize that while Barboursville's Octagon is a great Virginia wine, it is by no means in a league of its own. Indeed, as Virginia's wine industry continues to grow, more and more high-quality, if less well-known, Bordeaux blends are being made.

Take, for example, Anghel. It is a side project of Rappahannock Cellars' winemaker Jason Burrus, which alone should tell you something. Named in honor of his wife, every year Jason sources grapes from thought the state - getting his hands on the best ones available - and blending them to his exacting standards. One year, it may be a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Another year, like the 2008 vintage, it may be a 50/50 blend of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. In essence, Anghel gives on of Virginia's great winemakers the ability to work with the best fruit and develop a signature product. The 2008 is extremely smooth with big red cherries, raspberries, cedar, vanilla and spice on the palette. Just to be smooth, the tannic structure gives way to even more smoothness on the long finish.

There are many, many other quality Bordeaux blends available from throughout the state - Cobbler Mountain's Meritage and Fabbioli Cellars Tre Sorele are two that come immediately to mind - and there are many more I have not yet tried.

Yes, The Octagon s good, and quite deserving of its reputation. However, someone's whole knowledge of Virginia's high quality blends shouldn't begin and end there. With so many other great blends being produced, that jus wouldn't b fair to any wine drinker.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Virginia's Mad Winetist

The great thing about emerging wine regions is that winemakers and vineyard managers are still learning, experimenting and figuring out what grapes grow best in what soil leading to the highest quality wines. Virginia is no different. In fact, as far as winemaking goes, the Wild West has been firmly transplanted to the Eastern seaboard.

True, Virginia is gaining a reputation built on the shoulders of Cabernet Franc, Viognier and increasingly Petit Verdot. Yet, the industry is still so young and growing that people are willing to try new things - be it blends, varietals or growing techniques.

Take Doug Fabbioli. He has made a name for himself based on his reds. His Cabernet Franc Reserve is a great showcase wine for Northern Virginia. He doesn't stop there, though. He committed to planting several rows of Carmenere to see how they did. It didn't work out, but the effort was made. Several acres and several years of patience were invested to reach that conclusion. Doug said he is now leaning to tearing out the Carmenere and replanting. Given the time it takes grapes to grow - usually three years, the land involved, and the labor costs involved, it is a proposition that other more established wine regions wouldn't consider. In Virginia, winemakers like Doug feel it is worth it because there is still the freedom to experiment.

Not all test plantings have had the same results as the Carmenere. Indeed, both Tannat and Sangiovese have taken to Virginia better than anyone could have expected.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Jefferson Would be Proud

Yes, Barboursville has ruins, cows and wine. It also has large crowds and a theme park atmosphere
 On our recent trip to Charlottesville, we visited a lot of wineries and tried a lot of wine. This was my first trip to the region, and while I had heard many good things about the wine and the wineries in Thomas Jefferson's old stomping ground, I wasn't prepared for just how different each winery was in terms of atmosphere and ambiance, though I was pleasantly surprised. Since I have already mentioned Barboursville in a previous post, there isn't much more I need to say about it. True, it is big. Their wines are good. Still, I can't help the feeling that they are the Virginia wine industry's circus barker - imploring people to step right up to try wines from the state. The assembly-line atmosphere in their tasting room does little to counter this impression.

All in all, given its reputation, size and location, Barboursville is a good place to start - especially as an introduction to Virginia wines. And there are many other wineries located nearby. The other wineries we went to on the first day were Reynard Florence and Keswick Vineyards. Neither of these had the crowds or chaos of Barboursville. True, they didn't have Thomas Jefferson-designed ruins on the property either, but that's a small price to pay for tranquility.

Another view from another winery. For the life of me, I can't remember which one

Reynard Florence, a fairly new winery, was our second stop, and it couldn't have been more different. It is a small, family run winery. The tasting room feels more like a living room than anything, and we had the place to ourselves. One of the owners was pouring behind the bar. I first heard about Reynard Florence during this year's Virginia Wine Bracket Challenge where its Cabernet Franc was one of the contestants. I remember liking the wine and was impressed by the other wines they produce. They also make a Petit Manseng and a Grenache - both unique for Virginia.

Rounding out our wineries for the day was Keswick, which does a hefty wedding business for good reason. The winery grounds are beautiful. Finishing off a day of wine tasting with dry Rose on a porch in a comfortable chair is never a bad thing.  And, lest I forget to mention it, their wines are quite good, too. I was a fan of their Viognier and their Rose, though their Verdejo is also worth trying given that it is a unique varietal in Virginia.

This trip was also some of our friends' first experience with Virginia wines, and I am proud to say that they have now become fervent fans of Virginia Viognier. A weekend in Monticello will do that to just about anybody.

Friday, June 8, 2012

RIP Restaurant 3

One of my favorite Arlington restaurants, Restaurant 3, closed its
doors for good last Friday. That's sad news for DC-area food and wine

What Restaurant 3 did so well was comfort food with fresh and local
ingredients - shrimp and grits, fried oysters and pork. Lots and lots
of pork. Their happy hour pulled pork sandwiches were among my
favorite cheap eats around, but they didn't stop there. They made
their own bacon, infused that deliciousness into cocktails and hosted
PigFest. Seeing Adidas shorts-wearing men and yoga pants-sporting
women rushing to one of the 8,000 gyms in Arlington only to walk by a
fully roasting pig parked outside the restaurant was always priceless.

Of course, this is a wine blog and while their food - up to and
including their near-obsession with everything pig related will be
greatly missed - they also knew how to accompany their menu with wine.
While never the most extensive or esoteric wine menu, it was very
solid. It worked for and with the food available and ambiance that
Restaurant 3 had.

It is a shame that such a place needed to close its doors after nearly
five years in a prime location with a large and loyal fanbase. Here's
hoping whatever takes its place is also willing to park a smoker in
front and attached a whole pig to it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

First Day in Monticello

First off, my wife is a good sport. She is on the risk-adverse side, so the fact that she willingly accompanied a couple of friends and me to Skydive Orange to watch us willingly jump out of an airplane at 13,500 feet needs to be commended.

After that feat, we celebrated by visiting some of the Charlottesville area's most well-known wineries. This is my first trip down to the wineries of the area and they have, for the most part, lived up to the rave reviews I have been hearing since I started this blog a couple of years ago.

We started at Barboursville because, given its size, reputation and Most-Favored Winery status in the Governor's Mansion, it was the logical place to start. I wasn't a fan of all of their wines - their Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc for the whites and the Sangiovese and Merlot left much to be desired - the quality of the Reserve lines more than lived up to the winery's reputation. I couldn't help think that Barboursville is as close to the Napa Valley wine amusement parks like Beringer and Robert Mondavi that we will ever have on the East Coast, but it is well worth a trip and became so popular with good reason.

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Year's Bracket Challenge

Jefferson Vineyards was the Big Winner Among Stiff Competition
Once again, we stole a perfectly good idea from the NCAA and turned it into a wine tasting event. Unlike last year, which was co-hosted by Jessica Milby at One Classic Wino, this year's tasting was cosponsored by Fabbioli Cellars - last year’s big winner.

To level the playing field, this year’s Bracket Challenge consisted of all Virginia Cabernet Francs, with a number of bloggers, restaurant and wine industry professionals tasting and judging the wines. Other bloggers included Allan from CellarBlog, Kurt from Wine About Virginia and Frank from Drink What You Like. Unlike the men’s basketball tournament, there are a lot fewer fake injuries and poor refereeing during wine tasting.

Tools of the Trade for this Year's Challenge

The 16 wines tasted were from wineries from all around the state, and all had won Governor’s Cup honors. While all the wines were Virginia Cabernet Francs, the diversity of the wine’s appearances, aromas and tastes led to some interesting discussions and opinions. Some were overflowing with green pepper, some had more graphite to them, and others smelled like a cranberry bog.

Pitting 16 Virginia wines against one another demonstrated not only the diversity of flavors and growing regions around the state, but also of increasing quality. While some of the wines were on the light, thin side, others could more than hold their own with Cabernet Francs – or Cabernet Franc-heavy blends – from other winegrowing areas of the world.

Of the wines that made it to the Final Four, one was from Loudoun County and the other three were from the Charlottesville area. Jefferson Vineyards was the night’s overall winner. Congratulations to the winemaking team at Jefferson Vineyards for creating this year’s Bracket Challenge winner. 

This Year's Winner & Runner-Up.  Next Year, the Winning Winemaker will get to Cut Down a Net

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Virginia Wine Keeps the Accolades Coming

February was a good month for Virginia wine, and March is shaping up to be just as good. In terms of recognition, February saw Virginia wines receive several prestigious awards both near and far and March has been dubbed, “Virginia Wine and Dine Month.” If it seems as if there is a Virginia Wine marketing tie-in for every month of the year, you’re not too far off. Indeed, the wines are getting better and those tasked with marketing Virginia wine are certainly earning their salaries.
The Governor’s Cup was awarded to Glen Manor for their 2009 Hodder Hill Meritage. Glen Manor was up against some of Virginia’s other great wineries and the honor is well-received for their Meritage, which is not a variety of grape, but a name given to American wines that blend traditional Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petite Verdot) into a single wine. I have mentioned the Old World characteristics that Virginia wines have in the past, and the Glen Manor Meritage is a great representation of this. With Virginia growing some of the best Cabernet Franc in the world, it is no surprise that blends that incorporate this grape – as well as the single varietal offerings made from Cabernet Franc – are helping Virginia stake its claim in the wider world of wine.

Other wines that went up for the Governor’s Cup included Meritages produced by Delfosse, King Family Vineyards, Potomac Point and Veritas, as well as both red and white single varietal wines. Past winners have included fantastic whites and reds from all of the state’s growing regions – from Charlottesville to Fairfax.

Glen Manor certainly is in good company, and the accolades keep coming for Virginia Wine. Internationally, a Loudoun County wine – BreauxVineyards Viognier – made British wine writer and top wine taster Oz Clark’s list of the 250 best wines in the world - breaking the top 100 at number 87. What is more remarkable is that Breaux Vineyards is one of only three U.S. wineries to appear on Mr. Clark’s list.

Certainly, the awarding of the Governor’s Cup and the inclusion of Breaux Vineyards in Oz Clark’s 250 best wines are just two honors that have been bestowed on Virginia wine recently. With the quality of Virginia wine continuing to increase, and word trickling out that Virginia is making world-class wines, the honors will likely continue as well.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Charleston Wine and Food Festival is Underway!

This is our third year attending the Charleston Wine and Food Festival. The first year I became a major convert to Low Country cuisine. Being a born and bread Northerner, I never appreciated the deliciousness and versatility of grits before my first trip down - especially if they are cooked in butter and bacon grease and topped with grilled shrimp.

Last year, the festival was a bit more focused on haute cuisine with Low Country food being elevated by all the chefs and students. There was also some bacon cotton candy that I am still thinking about. Notice a trend emerging?

This year, I am looking forward to tasting, trying and experiencing new foods and wines.

Both previous years, I have noticed a distinct lack of Virginia wines the Charleston Wine and Food Festival. Given the proximity of where some of Virginia's best wine comes from and where the festival is located, that's a shame.

Virginia wine - like the festival itself - keeps getting better. It would be great if the two could join forces. Maybe with some bacon thrown into the mix for good measure.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wine and the Big Game

Even with our move, painting and unpacking, Caitlin and I were able to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. While it has been estimated that Americans drink more than 325 million gallons of beer on Super Bowl Sunday, we had nary a fluid ounce between the two of us. 

Fancy that, we chose to have wine with our game food of pigs in a blanket, mini-burgers and herb-garlic fries. I have written about great wines to pare with football in the past, and the Big Game is no exception. We opted for a Zinfandel and it went perfectly with both the game and the food we were serving. 

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who prefers wine to beer when it comes to football, as some of the area's local wine shops were getting into the spirit of the game, too. Red, White and Bleu, for example, featured wines at $10 and $12 in honor of each team's quarterback. They also had deep discounts of cheese and charcuterie from New York and New England.

While wine will never, ever replace beer as football's signature drink, it does make for an enjoyable game. And say what you want about the incessant beer ads throughout the game, the Bud Light ad featuring Weego was pretty damn good, and it helped raise awareness of rescue dogs - a cause both beer and wine drinkers should fully support.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Washington WIne Academy's Second Annual Wine Walk

It's not the 1K that's daunting. It's finding the first wine station
Last year, the Washington Wine Academy kicked off their annual 1K wine walk. Not only is it a great idea, but it is growing in popularity. Not only will you get to taste wines from around the world while wearing a participation bib, but you also get to explore the Crystal City Mall while doing some great people watching. 

To be clear, 1K is not an entirely long distance. If you are a competitive runner who does 5 miles on the treadmill before riding your bike to work, this is probably not the event for you - thought there was a bit more spandex on people last year than was necessary. On the other hand, if you are looking to try a bunch of new wines, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. And because 1K is better than no ks, you should enjoy that extra sample glass.

The Washington Wine Academy does a lot of good work around the area, and this event was a lot of fun last year. Hopefully I will be able to participate next year provided I am physically up for it. 

Walking and drinking red wine at the same time can do a number on white shirts, and works lots of different muscle groups.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Converting Skepics

Virginia wine is in an interesting place as 2012 gets underway. The quality continues to improve as more and more people realize that Virginia's wine industry isn't just a fad. Despite great advances in quality - I'm not the first person to admit that Virginia makes some damn good wine nowadays -  the broader wine-drinking population still scoffs at Virginia wine as being of poor quality, too sweet, or "a headache in a bottle." Several people have used that last phrase on me. 

While I wish Virginia wine had a better reputation, that Virginia wines were not segregated to the "local" section of most wine shops, and that consumers viewed Virginia wines as a viable and highly enjoyable option, changing mass opinion is a huge undertaking. Changing an individual's mind is far easier than changing a collective mind. All it takes is a corkscrew and a bottle that you like.

When someone scoffs at Virginia wine, I try to convince them that they are misguided and missing out. I will mention the advances in quality, the Old World characteristcs some of the wines now have have and the praise that the world's wine critics now bestow on wine from the Commonwealth. 

When I can, I much prefer to show rather than tell people that there is some great wine being made in Virginia. I had the opportunity to do just that not too long ago. Someone was planning to host a party with local food and wine, but backtracked on the wine. "Virginia wine, to me, just sounds terrible," she said. After the party, I brought over a bottle of 2007 Chateau O'Brien Buddy's Bistro Red. It's deep, dark color, smooth tannins, ample dark fruit and spice characteristics made it a huge hit with everyone.

Buddy is the dog on the label. His wine is quite good
In fact, everybody who tried it wanted to know where they could buy it, how far away the winery was and what other Virginia wines I would recommend. I gave them a few selections to try that were also $20 or under and urged them to visit the wineries, try the wine, meet the people involved in making the wine, and then let others know about their positive experiences. 

Make it a New Year's Resolution to try different wines from Virginia and tell others about the ones you like.