I intentionally don’t write or talk about wine very often; even though it’s one of the great joys in my life. I find it nearly impossible to do so without sounding like a complete jackass. It’s not that I’m above sounding like a jackass, I just elect to do so on topics other than wine.
Here’s how he recommends picking wine if you’re feeling overwhelmed:
There are twenty or thirty great American wine importers. Learn Neal Rosenthal, Terry Theise, Robert Chadderdon, Michael Skurnik, Kermit Lynch. Then you can just look for their names. It doesn’t mean you’ll always love the wine, but at least you know the guy was selecting some really interesting stuff.”
He’s completely right, of course. To compare this approach to the music business, there are still a handful of labels out thereâ€”you know who they areâ€”where you know that pretty much anything they put out will beâ€”at leastâ€”interesting.
I highly recommend not only taking the advice above and looking for who has imported the wine in order to make your choices (Kermit Lynch is the man), but to also try and develop a rapport with the owner of a good, small, independent wine shop in your area. Again, like days gone by in the music business where you could walk into a great record store and be guided towards some interesting music, the people who run the small indie wine shops are passionate about what they do, love to turn people on to what they’re excited about, and will go beyond the call to help you discover some great stuff (I’m fortunate to live around the corner from Hopper’s Wine and Spirits in New Orleans and Our Market on Martha’s Vineyard).
There are, of course, some good online wine resources as well. As I’m partial to the wines from Burgundy, I really like Burghound.
And there are great books and writers on wine. Clive Coates, for instance, is not just a great writer on wine, but really just a great writer.
I can’t help but editorialize a bit here. Please, please ignore anything that Robert Parker and The Wine Spectator Magazine say. Also, please, please try some non-Californian wines (remember, if you like Merlot, there’s a world of Bordeaux wines that rely heavily on the Merlot grape. If you like California Chardonnay, do try some of the white Burgundy wines which exclusively use the Chardonnay grape).
At the end of the day, Nossiter sums it up very well:
It’s very tough for the consumer to figure out what the fuck the truth is about wine. You have one option, which is drink and think, drink and think.”