Book Review: Ancient Wine: The Search for The Origins of Viticulture – Patrick McGoven

This is not a new book published originally in 2003.  Patrick McGovern is Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum.

This is short review because there have been many reviews completed of this book when it was published.

First this is a great book to read if you want to peek behind the curtains to understand the antiquity of wine–it’s evidence that McGovern so masterly brings alive through his biomolecular archaeological approach.

So when we talk about wine grape cultivation being around for many millennia we may take those dates for granted or worse suspicious of those dates.  But the two methods are to look at the archaeologic evidence of pottery shards (where wine might have been stored) but also looking at art work showing wine and wine grapes being depicted.

Then there is the molecular archaeology–residual material that can be scientifically reviewed to see what that material is and to confirm the presence of wine aided by the aging of the material and/or the vessels where the residue comes from.

The book looks at the entire subject matter and looks at specific regions like the Holy Land, Greece, Egypt, Rome and Anatolia.  The book looks at artifacts–clay pots and vessels with wine identified markings–subscribing meaning.  Wine in Rome might be for a Bacchanalian delight but they also added Myrrh to the beverage.  The book also highlights in some detail about resin in wine and that additives were for perceived beneficial use.  Think of myrrh is both sacred and medicinal.  Resin wines–and most people would think of Retsina as the wine of historical provenance.

The book talked about how Vitis vinifera L. subsp sylvestris would not have grown in the Middle East and hence it would be the cultivated variety that would: Vitis vinifera subsp. vinifera.  Vinifera would have to have been transported to the Middle East for it to develop.  Sylvestris would have only been in Eurasian–generally on the boundary of forest hence the desserts of the Middle East could not have supported sylvestris.  This all means that Vinifera is about trade and through this it spread the middle east and, of course, does significantly well.

I wish there was a method to track and understand how a variety would be transported historically from one region to the next.   This would also explain how varieties evolved as well.

When we think of wine grape cultivation and the evidence of wine being made is at least eight millennia from China to Armenia to Georgia and to Iraq the cradle of cultivation is in the documentation.  This book while a great read has some difficult moments in terms of the technical side of it.  I think it could have had more diagrams for ease of knowledge on-boarding.  It is a good read and you can walk away with the full confidence of our historical heritage of fermentation of wine grapes and that being wine.  I am glad I invested the time to read this important subject matter.

If you are interested in history and to get to the ‘heart of the matter’ of how this documentation was assembled and the methodologies utilised – I would certainly recommend this book.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

The book is a courtesy of me.

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This Week in Wine March 3, 2019 – James Melendez

This week in wine for me was an always anticipated annual event Tre Bicchieri I know each producer can only highlight so many bottles–rare to see any more than 3 wines per producer (the winning plus two more).

It is the only time I can expect from top to bottom and left and right of Italian wines in one place.  I may taste from a fewer wines but a representative tasting of the entire nation of Italy.

I found a lot of exciting wines. And some that I have tasted recently, others I have never tasted and still another set I haven’t tasted in a while.

I very much enjoy Elena Walch’s Beyond the Clouds Alto Adige/Südtirol Chardonnay 2016 – It has been almost a decade since I tasted this producer wine.  Pleasantly lingering and a definitive  Südtirol Chardonnay.  I love tasting varieties that I rarely get to taste: Gaglioppo, Ruché, Sagrantino, Pallagrello Bianco, Nuragus, Nero di Troia, Moscato di Chambave, and Semidano to name a few.  Also great to find wines from regions that are not plentiful in my market place: Molise, Valle d’Aosta, and Calabria.

A very lovely tasting that I appreciate makes it regular to San Francisco.  I didn’t get to taste Schioppettino or Tazzelenghe wines which I was hoping to find it being poured but it weren’t–hopefully I’ll taste at some point this year.  I like that focus tasting because I was able to taste almost all producers.  Che fantastica esperienza!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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When Was Your Last Tasting Menu Experience? James Melendez

When was your last tasting menu experience?

Well that was far too long ago!

I said to a friend once “I wish I could go to a tasting menu once a week” she said that she didn’t have the same wish.  She has experienced a good number in her time but for her it was not the same as it was for me.  I do have a devoted love for the tasting menu and chef prepared food.

What inspired to me write this was that I was recently at a tasting menu and it struck me solidly the fineness not just of the food but the ambience, service, comfort, wine and total touch was very meaningful to me.  The waiter was a quintessential professional–it was a party of ten and he worked to make the meal the resounding success and it was.  I am not sure if all diners appreciate the hard work to making a meal a success–I am fully aware because I notice detail and I love detail.

I think that ‘at the heart of matter’ of culinary excellence is to showcase the chef’s vision and aptness.  I think to be a chef is to love food and by that extension hospitality.  Hospitality is a word that we may know immediately but the many nuances are both fascinating and elusive.  Hospitality and the tasting menu are synonymous with having each guest feel special and have the heart touched.  I am not sure all chefs would agree but the chef who views their work as a vocation is the chef who conveys that excellence to the meal participant.

I have been to both tasting menu-only restaurants and those who have a mix of regular menu and tasting menu – singular selection and those with several per course.  I always order tasting menu if offered at a restaurant offering both.  It can be hard when you are with a group or even just two people often 99% of the time all people need to order the tasting menu.  I get it.  It is hard to time the meal and the experience can leave one diner feeling left out.

I remember one tasting menu experience that almost wasn’t–it was with wine writers and one person wanted to order off the menu but the requirement was all or nothing for the tasting menu.  Each member of the table lobbied and eventually convinced that one person.  I cannot imagine having to be convinced!

Now when I am asked about food allergies or those food items I don’t prefer–eggs by themselves for me.  I am one of a dozen people on the planet that doesn’t like eggs.  But I forget to mention eggs…now my standard line is eggs by themselves or lamb are something I prefer not to eat.  I am not allergic they just are too intense for me.  Eggs are too intensely scented as well as texture issue.  And lamb is a texture issue and the gameness.  Do I use eggs to bake yes absolutely.  For years, I had not eaten cheese–but just in the past decade have been eating some cheeses, some of the time–still the strong cheese I cannot eat.  So perhaps I can eat an egg or lamb in the future?  Who knows stranger things have happened.

Food is the total senses experience and when thoughtful and expertly executed–it is a spiritual journey.  One of my favourite programmes is Netflix’s Chef Table and like chef prepared food the programme highlights beautiful photography, editing, narration, story, direction, lighting and music and much more.  The intent is getting into the head of each chef to talk about their vision, their drives.  Their connection to ingredient and their love to share that with each person who goes to their restaurant.

The food documentary is the heart of the matter.  Season 3 Chef’s Table highlight Virgilio Martinez’s Central in Lima and his quest for the excelsior tasting menu is truly unique.  Martinez core vigil is to raise Peru’s most obvious as well as unique ingredients in his seemingly coterie of dishes on his tasting menu.  The programme didn’t necessarily talk about spirituality but that was the net result of watching it–that for Virgilio Martinez–it is a spiritual quest to find and create food that feds body and soul.

The food documentary called ‘For Grace’ about Chef Curtis Duffy explored his brutal upbringing that might have stuttered someone’s life but his core being is not about just surviving but fermented ideas, aspirations in food and in life.  Fermenting ideas to become lyrical food that is graceful—he left the restaurant Grace in 2016.  And as I understand it he and business partner are looking to create a new restaurant.

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I do appreciate the well-known chef as well as a chef that is not known.  I am quizzical about what a great chef does (again known and not) and their choices, aspirations, visions and the beauty of their art on the plate.  I think of one chef here in San Francisco who for years is more known for his bars and lunch counters–which is one of the best, high quality, casual meals you will have at the sandwich-salad level in the City.  I was inspired by Chef Dennis Leary’s Canteen restaurant (now closed) on Sutter Street–seating no more than a dozen people–was an intimate, accessible and wondrous space.  And even a personal side of Leary was on display–his favourite books within easy reach of most diners who were seated in the booths in his teeny, tiny intimate restaurant.   I think Dashiell Hammett would have dined here–it just had the vibe.  I would love Chef Leary to have a tasting menu restaurant–I think he is under-rated.

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Some beautiful plates at a various restaurants as evidence of some great tasting menu experiences from Reims, Paris, and San Francisco:

Frenchie – Paris

Duck – Frenchie, Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cucumber rings, fennel, sauce – Porte 12, Paris

Rabbit tenderloin and white beans – Porte 12, Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Cheese Plate – Porte 12 – Paris

Langoustine – Porte 12 – Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rich, granular chocolate dessert – Porte 12

Lobster – Michael Minna, San Francisco

A5 Wagyu – Michael Minna, San Francisco

Just the starter – Michael Minna, San Francisco

 

Lemon Macron, Pâte de Fruit and lemon cookie – Michael Minna, San Francisco

Tuna and marrow – Racine, Reims

Restaurant Racine – Racine meaning root proves a great fundamental name to this wondrous presentation and food

Racine, Reims

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So what are you waiting for?

When I know I am going to a tasting menu either if I book the reservation I immediately let them for tasting menu preferences/allergies.  I often order the wine supplement–I want a variation but you could conceivably order by the bottle as well.  In general, I find tasting menu pricing and especially with wine much more expensive in the US than say in Paris.

Enjoy your time–ask questions of server and ask of things you want to increase your enjoyment.

These are my future bucket list tasting menus:

Alinea – Chicago

Central – Lima

Osteria Francescana – Modena

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Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Food, Food and Wine, Tasting Menu | 1 Comment

February 2019 Wine Reviews – James Melendez

Another fun tasting month of wines from Arizona to La Mancha to Ribera del Duero and back to Santa Clara Valley south of San Francisco.  I am always amazed on such variation that hits my tasting table.

Please seek out these wines.

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El Vínculo La Mancha Alejairén White Wine 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13.5% ABV, 100% Airén, $30 SRP

This grape was once the third most planted on planet earth and a lot of hectares of it planted in La Mancha–often used for making spirits and sometimes as a white wine.  This wine is expresses notes of dried stone fruit, honeycomb, tea, and flowers; Palate of dried apple rings, apricot, beeswax and flowers.  A very nice wine and express great possibilities of the Airén.

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El Vínculo La Mancha Crianza 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

100% Tempranillo; aged 18 months in American Oak; $19 SRP

Expressing notes of Boysenberry, cherry, crushed pepper and red rose petal.  Palate of Boysenberry-Blackberry, black pepper, cinnamon and sage.

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Aridus Arizona Field Blend White Wine 2017 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a wine of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Malvasia. 11.% ABV.

Notes of Lemon peel, stone fruit, seashells and palate of white peach, dried citrus peel, and flowers.

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Lucas & Lewellen Estate Vineyards Valley View Vineyard Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14.5% ABV; 21 Months in Oak 40% new.

Nose of blackberry, dense forest, dried Bay leaf, and spice rack.  Palate of raspberry-blackberry, white pepper, fresh herbs and violets.  SRP $27

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Leitz Rheingau Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.5% ABV – 100% Pinot Noir.

A nicely handsome German sparkling Pinot Noir–rare to taste Pinot Noir from Germany and much rare in the sparkling form.  Pale salmon colour; Nose: strawberry, sea shell, flowers and almond.  Palate: mountain strawberry, almond, hibiscus, and oyster shell.

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And more wine reviews to come in March – stayed tuned!

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Germany, Graciano, La Mancha, Lake County, Rheingau, Ribera del Duero, Santa Ynez Valley, Spain | Leave a comment

This Week in Wine February 17, 2019 – James Melendez

January is a great month–slower than the remainder of the year.  I know that it is when I need to get my online learnings done, read all that I want to read because there will be no time for anything else during remainder of year.  It is a strange annual rhythm but I am glad I pay attention and not let time wander away.

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There is no perfect media and I know I have two different audiences in terms of writing (here) and video.  There is no mixing of audiences – some overlap but a minority–maybe 10%.  Hence writing and videoing about wine is always being behind where you want to be.  I know as comparing myself and listening to other wine writers they describe as being reminded  about assignment is overdue.  I for the most part have every rarely have had that happen.

One thing I want to do is complete an article in a well-known publication.  I love to write and share a perspective or highlight a subject that can be of value to a reader.  I am pitching.  If you have any suggestions let me know!

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I have finally plotted all my 2,500+ videos for click rate and have found a very interesting curve that I call the “wine video evergreen curve” simply how do click rates do over time (it is a metric that is known to both viewer and producer).  Since I have a lot of data points and an intuition how things were progressing — I wanted a more in depth viewing and understanding and to share that.  Newer videos don’t operate the way it does for YouTube vloggers.  General vloggers successes is opposite of this curve–they do well in the very beginning and taper over time rapidly.  Also this content does not age well–simply because vloggers date their content; their content is based on a reality show of themselves but doesn’t make for long shelf life–it is not evergreen.  Below is a curve of my evergreen video content on YouTube.

I was compelled to do this because a well-known Napa Valley producer turned away my sample request of just one of their wines because they said they wanted print only articles about their wines.  Hence this shows/depicts overall performance for the video skeptic.

I wanted to highlight  what evergreen content is and how it performs over time and I was wanting to show this to not just to wine producers and PR communities; I also wanted to highlight this to the evergreen video producer community.

Wine is the only consumer product that is as complex and enjoyable as it is.  And yet presence of wine on video hardly covers the entire subject – if the cover rate was 1% I would be surprised–I suspect it is a fraction of 1%.

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For my current wine cravings: I have had a particular craving for white Pinot Noir–truly as rare as rubies but I adore it.  I am also very much wanting to taste more Frappato and Sangiovese.  Sunday night 24-February is the Academy Awards: a sparkling wine/Champagne only zone for me.  And always for me drier is better–Extra Brut and Brut Nature s’il vous plaît.

I hope you have had a great week and wish you a great week to come!

Let me know what sparkling wines and Champagne you will open up.

My latest video:

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Champagne, Frappato, Sparkling, White Pinot Noir, Wine and Video, Wine Videos, YouTube | Leave a comment

The Wine Video Evergreen Content Curve – James Melendez

The Red Line Depicts Current Date to Highest Performing Video

Wine Video Evergreen Curve: Content Performance Over Time

I have talked a lot about wine and video and how wine and video and, in particular, how wine on YouTube behaves.  YouTube is not centered on evergreen content… instead it is focused on vloggers.  It is easy to figure out–just look behind the curtain and view the analytics.  The analytics tells you what YouTube views as not just important but their only concern.   Look at realtime data and you see two specific performance metrics: 60 minutes and 48 hour rates.  Well that is to view the just published video and how it performs immediately and the 48 hour is to view the highest point a video might perform and again this is only for the general vlogger not for evergreen content producers.  For vloggers these two-time points are key to success/non-success but that does not describe how evergreen content performs as it performs over time not just on release.

Like it or not YouTube–evergreen content may not be the majority of videos published but if you look at all product reviews, how to’s, technology, cooking etc. this is part of that large community of evergreen content producers.  And this is important because even those who look for successful video influences should look at over all performance rates over time versus the short run.

YouTube also has the peculiarity of minutes viewed as singularly more important than clicks.  No one knows the YouTube algorithm exactly but most likely there is no value to clicks any longer–but I would question that move and say it is a mistake.  What the viewing public has access to… is only the click rate.  So I view clicks equally as important as content minutes viewed and more factors as well.

What I simply did was review all my video clicks and then graphed it.  I had an intuitive sense of how my videos perform but wanted to verify and see if there was a pattern.  I suspected there was one but I was only looking painstakingly at each video in the video manager.  There is not a lot of insight there but viewing simple performance metrics I had a sense of how videos perform over time.  The above graph represents over 2,000 videos and their click rates from channel inception (2009) to today (2019) – ten years worth of data.  This curve which I call an evergreen curve (relevant content and shelf stable) I believe this represents many evergreen categories – wine is certainly one of them.  Wine is superbly complex, easily more complex than any other consumer category.  This curve shows to me there is a viewer who is selectively looking for very specific wine content.  There are many other metrics YouTube and Google offer: I am endlessly fascinated with video performance.

There are two specific spikes on my channel that I would like to highlight my number one and number two YouTube videos.  While it seems like something out of the ordinary it is something that continues to lead view performance even today.  If I were to guess about what would have been my top ten videos I most likely would not have guessed correctly.  So video performance is the willingness to be surprised in both directions.  I have an axiom for YouTube video content behaviour:  “that what you think will be successful is not and that which you least suspect will be successful.”  I might be the first person to say this–but the sentiment rings out at Vidcon year over year in producer workshops.

Here are some features of what contributes to click rate behaviour:

  • Well known brands and well-distributed brands overall have high click rates
  • Lesser known brands have a lower than average click rate
  • Lesser known brands with support from producer or even fans either meet average view rate or exceeds it–a brand simply giving a like, RT and comments can add value to video and chances for increased click rate which ultimately reflects back to them
  • Reviews on rare varieties are most often below average click rate
  • Overviews on well known AVA or appellations tend to do well and  smaller, lesser known regions perform well below average
  • Spirits reviews in general perform multiples above average –probably because though the category is large but it is not as large as total wine SKUs and has no vintage

I point out all of this information because I know that if a casual viewer is looking at performance rate and looks at say the last three-to-six months it may appear that video performance is low on a wine channel–instead it is something that does well in the medium and long-term.

I know that someone might make a quick judgement without understanding wine videos and how they perform.  I had recently requested a sample bottle from a certain brand in Napa Valley and they were clearly not interested in video.  What I was told was that I could get a bottle if and only if I can get a review or article in hard copy media (magazine, newspaper).  I know no one is going to pick up an article on this producer as their story has been told extensively.  My story objective was how is one of their recent vintages today?

Clearly the print only approach is futile and not realistic.  For this particular producer I wouldn’t reach out to again.  I am not going to pitch the impossible because I suspect if I did it would still result in a ‘no’.  This producer is not worth my time now.   I think this person represents many producers who view the printed word as the only word that is important.  I do think video is very important and without looking at an evergreen content position we remain stuck.  Stuck insofar as many video producers  I do not think take an evergreen video approach and give up quickly.  I do think there is an expectation of wine video content to perform like a non-wine vlogs–immediate and with unrealistic click rates.

I am not sure that non-video content performs any differently.  So far my very elementary data analysis of written pieces tends to show that evergreen content performs similarly to video.  Wine producers, I think have been accustomed to seeing pieces about their wine in print and like hard copy media but this format is that content comes out and it is quickly forgotten.  Online media is searchable and the quest to know about wine, wine history, winemaking, science, and individual wines is open for anyone to find at anytime in the future.

There is a wine video viewer that is seeking content on YouTube and I suspect when they go to the platform they cannot locate wine content because it does not exist for their specific search–over time people start to think wine video content is simply not there.

I have long advocated for more wine video content producers and that it is a valid media.  Jancis Robinson in one of her wine videos questions wine video.  She says and I am paraphrasing that wine videos are a “spectator sport.”  I don’t agree with her position.

Video is about adding layers of connection and stickiness to view that the written word cannot quite convey.

So I still believe in wine video production and have the long time presence.  I enjoy it and I believe in the video medium and it is something that is accessible, conveying more than just a written word but a rainbow of possibilities.  Smartly engaging analytics and knowing how to view and being curious to see the longer view of what wine content does can guide to success and planning on how to use and reimplement that content for future consumption.

I am glad I did this study and confirming thoughts I had about the evergreenness of wine video content.  If you are a wine producer and thinking about video think of your content as something that will become evergreen.  And if you are a video producer of wine videos like myself think about the long-term goal and your anchor is to think about how your videos are evergreen.   It is certainly good for my media kit!

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Evergreen, Wine and Video, Wine Videos, YouTube | Leave a comment

The State of Wine Glassware: A Desperate Need for Better Wine Glasses – James Melendez

The state of wine glassware today (2019) is that so many places or events is that wine glassware is either unimportant or an afterthought.  Our current state of wine glassware is one of disappointment or solutions that are profoundly expensive.

While our wine selections in even a short period of time has improved in just a generation is compelling and amazing.  As an example of improved wine selections availability is on or off-premise are Sicilian wines which a generation ago (14 years) I would have struggled to find a single label of Sicilian wine in San Francisco.  But today there is vast improvement in wine producers selections in the market place–is it perfect?  No, but it is but much better than it has ever been.  I think there is a state of continuous improvement that is needed for wine as not all wine regions are available.

And then there is need for a vast leap of improvement for wine glassware design, quality, pricing and distribution.

The best place to begin a discussion on glassware is to look at trade/media master classes.  I have been to dozens and overall I have found the presentation and content to be “good” to “very well done” but the wines are not getting the true appreciation that I think they deserve.  Last Fall (2018) I attended a master classes of two very well regarded appellations and the information presented quite good but the wines I thought uniform to un-interesting.  I had to stop and I said to myself “wait… this is from appellation X and Y” I love these two wine regions and adore each bottle I get to taste.  Each wine I tasted was linear and uninteresting… wines were from both well-known and lesser known producers.  It’s not the wine… it is the wine glasses masking the beauty of each drop of wine poured.

I will not mention these specific master classes as I want to keep that information confidential as this event is amongst many others with the same issue.  Non wine glass sponsored events promise to not highlight wines in non-optimum vessels.  I think that glassware is so important that it elevates and makes a wine event or master class successful and worse when it is a substandard glass that the journalist or wine enthusiast walks away with little or unfavouable impressions.

Why is it specifically about a poorly designed, mass-produced wine glass that makes for a less-than-successful wine experience?

  • Bowl is not optimized – too narrow, not long enough
  • Rim does not allow for proper smelling of wine – tapered inward with little access for nose
  • Rim is at a ninety degree angle to bottom of bowl which will not capture the nose of the wine but instead doesn’t translate the molecules to the nose; it also makes a swirl a promise to spill the wine
  • Lower portion of the bowl is too flat–which limits swirling capability, so while the wine molecules are doing their part during swirling state; it hides or does not express the wine fully
  • Novel and non-functioning designs – a flute is pretty but it does not allow for full senses appreciation – bubbles look great but that is as good as it gets
  • The coupe dissipates any scent opportunity–swirling strictly prohibited Beautiful but it does not work to showcase a sparkling wine
  • Mass produced wine glasses – if it is too shallow there is a bounce back of a singular note–no other complex notes can be highlighted.  I would say most wine glasses I have experience in North America are of this flavour
  • Material can come into play and specifically a glass and non-crystal or specialised material can perform poorly by not being able to be washed too often in the dishwasher and simply don’t look or feel good; or doesn’t allow for the transfer to palate and nose seamlessly

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I would say north of 90% of wine events need a leap of improvement.  Wine producers should be more active in making sure when they serve wines at an event it can accurately capture the wine poured.  Producers could be, I believe, a bit more demanding and I think this request is not abnormal but absolutely important request.

Wine trade organizations or consortiums that are pouring/presenting their wines should have their PR agency or wine educator to request either a specific glass or at least object to a style that may not fit their wines.  As a wine trade organization or consortium they should ask PR agency or wine educator for a wine glass to inspect and approve.  I do know that wine educators buy a lot of wine glasses and could have them readily available for inspection.  I know a wine educator who looks for the least expensive and pays about a $1 a stem or less–they are constantly on the look out for cheap wine glasses–basically they are mass produced and not well designed glasses for wine.  I have asked why they buy these glass and why they haven’t looked at contracting with a reputable wine glass producer for, at least, a restaurant quality version.  Their response signaled to me is they needed the lowest priced glass possible is what they prefer.

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On premise (restaurants and bars) have no reason why they cannot guarantee higher quality wine glassware.  While most if not all somm-lead on premise businesses tend to have better glassware.  But those that don’t have a professional wine director or somm often have less-than-optimum glassware.  I have experienced in one of San Francisco oldest restaurants that I like to dine and has very nice food but the glassware is appalling–in this restaurant’s example is not just a quality issue it is an issue pouring many glasses per bottle 6 to 1.  I want to go to this restaurant for their very nice Cioppino but immediately the entire experience is not optimum.  I have not brought my own glass though as tempting as it might be–it is not what I should be doing based on what I pay for the wine.  If I am paying a 50 to 100% markup and I do expect the cost to insure the proper vessel–after all I am paying a premium.  I am surprised any restaurant serving wine chooses a poor wine glass.  What does this cost?  I think twice about going back to that restaurant as a consumer.  I also think that a restaurant is leaving a potential customer dollar spend on the table–the customer leaves without another glass or even bottle purchase.  The intrigue and delight is not there for the restaurant patron.  I have been served wine in a French jelly jar just last month in a San Francisco restaurant.  First, I never suffer in silence–I do ask for an alternative–but I have never had a single request turn into better wine glass.  I think it is important to give direct feedback to a restaurant regardless of what they might do.

And while a restaurant might have good stemware their offering might dictate great stemware.  As an example, I was at a tasting menu where (and with wine) it was easily a $400 per person experience.  I wanted high-end glassware–Zalto should have been part of their wine programme but it wasn’t.  If there is a high-priced meal the customer deserves the best experience possible.

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I think of every time I step foot in Champagne I have never had one single substandard glass regardless of where I dined or tasted wines solely.  I remember dining at Le Bois Joli in Saint-Imoges north of Épernay–there is no equivalent in the US that represents this experience.  Saint-Imoges is not exactly Épernay and yet the food, the service and the serving pieces and glassware are outstanding–portions that were easily equivalent to a full days of eating (breakfast, lunch and dinner) impeccable and stellar glassware and serve wear that was equally impressive.  It is nice to have your Caussolet served in an individual serving bowl from Le Creuset and nonetheless in my favourite colour: orange.  This restaurant, of course, served the best of food and wine and cares about it’s presentation because it is in Champagne.

I cannot quite compare Le Bois Joli to a Napa or Yountville restaurant –it would be like driving up in a rural part of a northern California wine country and finding a fine restaurant standing alone in a small village which Yountville would not be that village.  Champagne is always tops of mind for a great presentation.

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I think the quest for the perfect or near perfect remains elusive; and not just design but material, price point, quality of stemware and accessibility is not an easy proposition even in today’s marketplace.  Most individual consumers still buy wine glasses on brand and consumers are still not always happy with what they are getting.  Regardless people and it is a normal thing to feel greater disappointment when a very expensive glass is broken than a lesser expensive one.

I am buying fewer super expensive wine glasses $50-100 because breaking one is well…. heart breaking.  I do find one silhouette amazingly difficult to find at a reasonable price point.  A tulip wine glass for sparkling wine is elusive–I have found a “cheaper” version but it does not dazzle me or I do not feel a sense of satisfaction.  This silhouette is elusive and yet I do think of a better design suited to sparkling wine.

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My viewers on my YouTube wine channel consume my wine glass videos at a 4.5x greater rate than the average view of my total wine videos.  My second most watched video (showing a few below) is at 8,500 clicks which in wine video parlance is superbly difficult to reach.  Like all other videos, I hope and plan for all to be a success and yet this is one that I would never have suspected to do so well as it did.  The data suggests there is a much greater interest in wine glassware for very practical purposes.  It suggests a wine consumer who wants to learn all they can and perhaps drive towards a solution for their table top.

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I have long advocated for a better silhouette compelled with unparalleled elegance and leanness in design at a smart price point and good material–this is not found in today’s market place.  Not only do I think there is an opportunity for great design there is a proposition for better material, accessibility and price point.

Nonetheless I have so much more to say about glassware in future articles!

The Good: (L) Holmegaard sparkling wine glass, (M) Tulip (not certain of brand) and (R) Holmegaard Burgundy glass

The Bad: (L) a 90-Degree angle (M) A non-angle rim glass and (R) mass produced glass

The Ugly: I don’t know anything about these mass produced glasses; just that they are poor performers

Below are videos I have completed on specific glassware as well as general comments.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Wine Glasses | 1 Comment