Friday, January 24, 2014

This is why people stay in the wine business


It's all about the samples. The more you sample, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the more you enjoy the wine and want to stay in the wine business, to learn more about even better wines, and be better able to appreciate more samples. It's wonderfully circular.

I've been able to try close to ten new and, for me, somewhat high end wines in just over a month; one was five years old and one was ten, and that's unusual, too. Most wines on the grocery store or liquor store shelf are, of course, fresh from the bottler, and meant to be drunk up right away. So, what adds to the beauty and interest of all those samples is that not only is there always something a wholesale distributor wants you to carry in the store, maybe two or three things for you to try, but there's always some aging thing tucked away in the back room, purchased, buried and forgotten until inventory time, when everything is dusted off and counted again. Why look! A Benziger cabernet from 1998 -- we sold all the rest, it's probably past its prime, but try it -- and here's a Napa Cellars '05, that should be just about right. And then Wholesaler X is asking us to try these, here's a pinot noir, another cabernet, here's two chardonnays -- one's in a new "green friendly" lightweight bottle -- and here's a prosecco. Brand new. Let me know what you think.

I'd be glad to. I don't know of too many other businesses in which this kind of homework features so routinely and pleasantly. Maybe if you work at a bakery or florist's shop, you carry home the excess. But, after a certain point, how much more is there to learn about a doughnut or a carnation? Wine is different.

And the prosecco was absolutely delicious. LaMarca was the brand, an extra dry sparkling wine from Italy. It was my first experience of actually enjoying a very dry wine. I begin to "get it." Funnily, though, it seemed to lose all its lively fruit flavor within just a few hours of the bottle being opened; so I announced this very same puzzlement and complaint on Facebook, and I got an answer right away, but I'm sorry to admit I forget who the answer came from. It was either the nice people at Snooth or the nice people at Local Wine Events (I'm a fan of both). Whoever it was explained that proseccos are very delicately flavored to begin with, and since most of our sense of "taste" comes from the aromatics we smell, any bubbly wine tends to lose those aromatics quickly as its own bubbles effervesce them away. Ah so.

Which means, of course, I'm going to need more samples.

P.S. A little more on spotting an "authentic" prosecco, from Blog au vin.

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