There are many things right in the wine world. Historic quality and availability, increasing embrace of environmentally responsible farming and winemaking, to name some of the most important.
But there always is room for improvement. Suggestions:
• Stop using monster bottles. Bottle weight and size does not affect wine quality. It does affect the environmental cost of producing, shipping, and disposing of the bottle. And—this is a personal peeve—such bottles often do not fit in wine racks or the shelves of wine refrigerators.
• Use certified taint-free closures. Screw caps, composite corks, cans, wine boxes eliminate the threat of cork taint, but many people still consider cork the classic and best closure. OK, fine. Some cork companies now use processes to remove TCA (the cork-taint villain) and test individual corks. All cork closures should be certified taint free.
• Continue to eliminate barriers to direct-to-consumer sales by wineries. Delaware, Mississippi, and Utah ban all winery-to-consumer direct shipping. In Rhode Island wineries cannot ship directly unless you first visit the winery. Ohio allows direct shipping only by wineries making less than 250,000 gallons per vintage. Nonsensical wine laws must go.
• Make “reserve” and other terms meaningful. In the U.S., a winemaker can slap the term “reserve” on any old plonk. Other terms like “old vine” and “cuvée” are meaningful when used by conscientious winemakers, but the terms are not regulated. Unprincipled makers use them with impunity. The Tax & Trade Bureau—it regulates wine labels—should define the terms and require honesty on labels.
• End excessive wine pricing in restaurants. I get it that restaurants make their margins through alcohol sales. “Customers eat you poor and drink you rich,” the old adage goes. But excessive markups have been shown to reduce on-premise wine sales. Applaud and patronize restaurateurs who opt for increasing the volume of wine they sell by selling at reasonable prices.
• Gnarly Head Wines Old Vine Zin Zinfandel, Lodi 2019: Home run value for those who like juicy, jammy, big red wine. $8-12 Link to my review
• Domaine Bousquet Brut, Tupungato, Mendoza NV: Fresh, clean with bright acidity and charming fruit. $10-14 Link to my review
• Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2018: Eloquent expression of Napa cab power and dark fruit at entry-level price. $36-46 Link to my review
Last round: I thought about going on an all-almond-pecan-cashew diet. Then I realized that was just nuts. Wine time.