Archive for January, 2020

Ask Sid: What Is Your Worst Wine Trend of Last Decade?

January 29th, 2020
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worst wine trends of 2010s

Question: In your view what was the worst wine trend of the 2010s?

Answer: Interesting question. Your scribe appreciates how much more information on wine is out there in the last 10 years – some inaccurate but most of it helpful indeed. However with that overload there are some pet peeves for me. Don’t like so many consumers holding themselves out as experts rating wines without adequate experience. Your personal opinion on whether you like a wine or not is fine. But long detailed analysis and particularly an inflated point score are not reliable guides for others unless you have had some background in at least tasting fairly often or preferably drinking on a regular basis the world’s best wines. This is becoming more and more difficult for everyone to accomplish with the current high prices of these many wine treasures from around the world that generally warrant those highest scores. Otherwise how do you compare and determine what is an accurate score for any wine? Instead what we see are increasing “wine score creep” lately on all wines (some which don’t deserve the score given) because this works to the advantage of both the reviewer getting noticed and the winery anxious to broadcast the high score for marketing purposes. Similarly there are so many more sommeliers that now are better trained than ever who usually provide amazing assistance but a few still show too much pretentiousness of their knowledge.

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Chinese New Year Dinner

January 27th, 2020

Most of us thought the New Year started on January 1. However there is another one the lunar Chinese New Year that runs from Saturday January 25 and goes on until February 11, 2021. This is based on a 12 year cycle in the Chinese Zodiac that recognizes 12 different animals and 5 elements (earth, fire, metal, water and wood). This time it is the Rat (white rat) with Metal. Enjoy currently the Year of the Metal Rat! It all begins with a family celebratory dinner on commencement to bring good luck, good health, and wealth for all in the coming year. Lots of guidelines and superstitions of what to serve and what to avoid. Important to emphasize the right lucky numbers like 8 but not 4 (sounds like “death”) but if preceded by a 5 to make 54 means “no death” which portends good luck. Good things are thought to come in pairs and better to use even numbers rather than odd. No definite rules but honour the traditions in your own unique ways. Your scribe was fortunate to attend such a special event in Maui, Hawaii on Saturday January 25. The 8 lucky courses were spot on of gyoza dumplings (for wealth), vegetarian salad, chicken katsu, pairs of whole sides of fish (“togetherness”): citrus steelhead salmon and soy-ginger steelhead salmon (both for an increase in your prosperity during the year), pairs of different noodle dishes: soba & prawns and vegetarian chow mein (both for happiness & longevity), and finally dessert of oranges, tangerines, pomelos and apple-mango tart (all for good luck and fortune in the New Year). Some enjoyable drinkable wines fit in most appropriately as pairings. Fun experience! Hope you celebrated with a Chinese New Year dinner. Recommend it for next year.


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Ask Sid: Why more wines in cans?

January 22nd, 2020
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wine in cans trend

Question: Why are we seeing more wines in cans?

Answer: Modern marketing. Actually not a bad trend to position the increasing volume of cheap to moderately priced wine as more of just an easy useable beverage. Some like Sterling Vineyards in Napa are positioning themselves as using not cans but sleek lightweight aluminum bottles for the times. Like their use of unique colour coding both for resealable tops and bottom bar with yellow chardonnay, pink rose, and red cabernet sauvignon all easy to identify. Good branding. Better than more use of plastic. Those non sustainable expensive to transport extra heavy glass bottles also contributed to this and that packaging should stop. Like the convenience of cans and hope to see more of the already popular 375 ml. can size but also some 187 ml. with a non-plastic straw. However not ready yet for my premium wines for aging in aluminum bottles. What are your thoughts?

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With Climate Change A Big Factor For Future Wines Expect Many Old Style Treasures to Increase in Value

January 20th, 2020

A current buzz in the wine world is climate change and how is it affecting current vintages. It seems to be a reality that wines are becoming different from what those same properties used to produce. Perfect sites (like full south ones facing in Barbaresco) may be getting too much hot summer sun. Colder sites are now achieving better phenolic ripeness having turned into warmer sites than they ever used to. Brand new wine regions are appearing which previously were not ideal. The result is sort of like the old phylloxera epidemic where wines are once again undergoing major changes. This previous issue resulted in a demand for pre-phylloxera vines and wines. I suspect similiarly there will be a growing demand over the next few decades for well made balanced lower alcohol pre-climate change wines. Already there are so many old style treasures like 1945 Mouton, 1961 Palmer, and 1989 Haut-Brion from Bordeaux. Many red Burgundies from top vintages and producers like DRC and Rousseau are already increasing rapidly in value. Of course there are so many benchmark wines from nearly every wine producing country that are already in high demand. However, once consumers realize that the newer wines are excellent but are so very different from those older style ones which are diminishing in supply this will drive up the price of the latter as something unique. The key is to find wines from around the world that express this old style but are so well balanced to age and develop even further. Good project for the smart wine collector to seek these out while they are still reasonably priced! Let us know which wines you think qualify.

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Ask Sid: Why is wine consumption in America down?

January 15th, 2020
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Question: Why has wine consumption in America gone down?

Answer: Yes the figures just released for 2019 show the first decline of overall wine consumption in the USA since 1994. Difficult question to answer because there are lots of factors in play. The biggest one is probably the health conscious awareness of most people but especially the younger demographics. This applies to all their food choices including beverages. Some of it is to be different from what their parents are drinking. Remember the trend of those unique small “POP” Champagne bottles from Pommery perfect on the dance floor! The big boost for decades of “healthy red wine” starting with that CBS 60 Minutes French paradox research in 1991 of the relationship between moderate alcohol and lower heart disease has all but vanished. More consumers now avoid any alcohol at all. Influenced too by stricter “no drinking and driving” laws – those are a good idea. Is legalized cannabis in some jurisdictions being used instead of wine?  A more casual food scene and popular on the go eating is resulting in less sit down dinners with wine which is probably having an affect too. That partially explains the increase in “aperitif” bar scene drinking of spirits and cocktails (but with higher alcohol levels) as well as the continuing strong sparkling sector. Wine production has expanded to so many countries around the world but drinking it remains quite formal in the opening of the bottle, best temperature for service, to the use of the proper glass. Also with so many choices and different price levels it is becoming ever more complicated to understand wine. Others though are drinking wine less frequently and no longer to excess but enjoying more expensive premium better quality. These terroir-driven wines with a sense of place and the intriguing ability to enhance your dining pleasure will always hold a fascination for some of us – one of the joys of life!

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