Wine writers have an Achilles heel. When you drink different wines every day and don’t pay for the bottle because makers sent it to you for free, you lose sight of the real world.
Wine pundits get bored with a parade of nearly identical efforts. We forget most people do not taste as many different wines or as much wine as we do. We lose sight of what real people think about wine. Here are three of myths we promulgate, and why they are myths:
• Buttery chardonnay is passé. Try to convince major wine makers of that. Their bean counters hunch over Excel spreadsheets focusing on bottom lines and don’t care a fig about what a highbrow wine critic writes.
Jam Cellars tossed in toasted oak chips to make its chardonnay even more buttery and labeled the wine “Butter.” It promptly sold more than six million bottles in 2018. Every major maker has offerings with the word “buttery” on the label. Sure there is movement toward “unoaked” chard. That does not make oaky, buttery chard passé. It means you have choices.
• Sweet wines are for amateurs. Yes, the market for syrupy-sweet wine is limited, but the market for wine with some sweetness is far for limited. It is gargantuan. Some of the most popular brands on earth have dollop of sweetness, both from sugar and the illusion of sweetness generated by very ripe grapes. The Prisoner, Meiomi, and other brands sell in the multi-millions. Those drinkers are not amateurs, they are the market.
• The movie Sideways killed merlot. Not exactly. Wine drinkers buy more merlot than zinfandel, syrah, and riesling combined. They buy more merlot than rosé—another darling of wine writers. I’m sorry to break it to you, Miles Raymond.
Drink any wine you like. If you want to expand your wine knowledge or just be entertained by my words, thank you for your time. No judgment from me on what you pour.
• Cline Family Cellars Pinot Noir, Sonoma County 2018: Fresh, bright, fruit-forward, uncomplicated. $15-22 Link to my review
• Exitus Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Wine 2017: Fun to drink for those who want to party down? Emphatic yes. $19 Link to my review
• Chalk Hill Estate Chardonnay, Chalk Hill Appellation 2016: Classic Russian River style of oaky, ripe fruit chardonnay. $37-42 Link to my review
Last round: Someday I will solve my problems with logic, maturity, clear reasoning. Until then, I will rely on a glass of wine. Often more than one glass of wine.