And…We Are Back
February 7, 2009 by Wino
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor slow…
Recently, an acquaintance asked us, “So, since you’ve been into this wine thing, have you collected lots of wine paraphernalia?” Asking her what she meant, the mind immediately rested on the empty wine bottles collecting like lint on kitchen counters, waiting silently to be put to rest in the recycling bin. She clarified, referring to antique silver wine-tasting cups, corkscrews, glass tags, et al. Hmmm… The short answer was, “No.” Hell, we can’t even seem to cellar any wines, let alone accumulate a bunch of collectible accessories. That’s not to say that an antique tasting cup or some such bauble isn’t marvy in its own right. If we were to devote time to collections, there are worse things that could gather dust in our apartments than pewter tasting spoons or a wrought iron bottle holders. These trinkets, we suppose, are the equivalent of custom cell phone jackets and clever bumper stickers, a way to embellish something one loves. But, for us, it’s all about the wine.
The shape of the bottle, the label design, the foil or wax—these things offer enough personalization for us. Take, for example, O’Shea Scarborough’s creepy “Immortal” syrah label adhered to a swank Rhone-style bottle with sloping shoulders and a dollop of wax over the cork. We don’t care if you bring this wine out on a rattan tray with Riedel glasses and a Waterford cut-crystal decanter, or if you hand it to us in a brown paper bag hobo-style, we’ll be just as excited to look at the bottle, and pour that high-octane juice down our gullets. While some may find entertainment value in all the peripherals, it’s wholly unnecessary for a true wino. C’mon, man, let’s get to the wine!
The same holds true for wineries and tasting rooms. While some erect palatial museum-quality tasting rooms (gift shop included) around their wines, does that make the wine taste any better than it would at home on your own table? And, are you going to have a better time there? If so, ask yourself why. Like the wine paraphernalia, it doesn’t hurt (hell, it might even be fun), but it’s wholly unnecessary.
In our view, expectations of all of these add-ons suggest two things. First, it creates an environment where what I’ll call “winetimidation” is allowed to fester. Fester, fester, fester. It conveys a false notion that there are rules and rites required to appreciate wine, scaring off would-be wine enthusiasts Boo Radley-style. Second, it suggests that the wine can’t speak on behalf of its own virtue, and needs a lot of pomp and even more circumstance to garner the reputation of a stand-up wine. After all the bread and circus, the truth is, in the mouth, the emperor has no clothes. Let’s hope he does yoga.
With the economy’s head plunged deep in the crapper, it might finally be time to check wine snobbery at the door. Wine sales continue to be strong across the nation, but statistics show that the Average Unit Retail (AUR) is dropping significantly. What does that mean? People are buying less expensive wine than before, but more of it. Unit sales for the twelve months ending in September rose by 7.9 percent nationally. Also, while interstate tourism is down, in-state tourism stays strong. So, get out there and visit your local wineries. There’s sure to be one right in your back yard. Let the record show that wine is here to stay. Three cheers.
Likewise, WINO Magazine is here to stay. When we didn’t release an issue in January, we received many emails from dismayed readers. For example, Angie H. in Seattle wrote, “I love this publication, and have collected all the months no w, but am waiting patiently for the January issue…is it running late this month?” After a quick note back promising a February issue, her response was, “Yippee!” Thanks to Angie and the rest for their concern, but rest assured that WINO is going strong. You may have gone into withdrawals waiting for the next issue (sorry about that, but we were hung-over after the Holidays), but this issue should give you just what the doctor ordered. While liquid-diet slim, it’ll get you through. Take two, and call us in April.