It’s an exciting time to be a wine lover. A genuine revolution in wine has taken place in the last 25 years.
Much like what we have seen with food, there has been a
dramatic increase in the variety and quality of wines in the market. If you think of items like espresso,
a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano, or even something like sushi, items that were unknown or considered specialties have now become commonplace. It’s the same with wine.
Technology has helped to produce better and more consistent wines, and with modern methods of distribution we are seeing selections from all over the world, some well-known and some relatively undiscovered. Add to this dedicated importers bringing in wines from quality-minded, small producers working in authentic and artisanal styles and I think it’s a “golden age” for wine. There have never been more interesting wines available to the consumer and you should take advantage. How to do it? Here are a few recommendations.
First, step outside of the more familiar grape varietals like pinot grigio, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and Malbec. These grapes make classic wines, but given the tremendous variety of other grapes, wide range of flavors and regions to explore, it pays to be adventurous. Also, go beyond the brands and the biggest and cheapest bottles. Seek out wines made from small producers committed to quality. These producers take the steps necessary to make better wines like hand-harvesting and strict sorting so that only perfectly ripe and healthy grapes go into the wine. Have what I like to call a “farm-stand mentality.” Usually smaller production in wine is better much in the same way that tomatoes are better from your garden or a farmer’s market rather than the supermarket.
If you think these wines are going to be to be expensive, it’s not true. In stores many bottles sell between $10 and $15. See if you can get a solid recommendation from the person who works in your local store or restaurant with a passion for wine. Personally, I don’t put too much emphasis on scores in publications. I know that the amount of wine out there can be overwhelming and scores can help narrow it down, but I think that tasting different things and following your own palate is a much better way to explore and enjoy wine. One of the great pleasures of my job in our small store in Sea Cliff is in building relationships with customers and seeing their positive responses to wines that are new and interesting to them. It’s a golden age; get onboard.
Michael Amendola is wine director at The Village Wine Merchant in Sea Cliff. Learn more about wines at www.villagewinemerchant.com.