I've been officially out of the wine business for four months. After eleven years, it's still hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that I'm no longer selling wine. Small revelations help me to recognize my new life; I read wine magazines differently. I browse through them leisurely, looking for new wines to try (Is this the intended purpose of these magazines?). In my former life, I'd scan through, looking for good reviews of my products, cursing when I found a bad one. When I eat out, I read the wine list to see what I'd like to drink (Again, I ask, is this what one is supposed to do with a wine list?). I've been planning to start my blog on the joys of wine since my official departure from the wine business, but found I wasn't ready. I needed some downtime. The last few years of my career were anything but joyful. This is not going to be a wine industry blog, but, after so many years in the business, I'm sure that my thoughts and ideas will stray in that direction periodically. So, I'll start with some disclosure. When I left the wine industry, I was, and still am, somewhat disillusioned with the direction it has taken. Over the past few years, we've witnessed wine becoming a commodity. The "animal labels", as they are referred to in the business, led by Yellowtail, followed by the likes of Little Penguin, Naked Zebra, Tall Horse, Cool Fish, Blue Fish, Herding Cats, Four Emus, Funky Llama etc., etc., etc., are a group of inexpensive wines of questionable quality that have become industry leaders. The push to sell these wines, along with other kitchy-named brands like Fat Bastard, Mad Housewife, Screw Kappa Napa, and (I kid you not) Used Auto Parts, has completely overshadowed the qualities that once described the wine industry - passion, quality, pride, history. I'm not saying that all of these wines are bad; some are of decent quality and very affordable. Most retail for under $10. And, these wines have done a service to the wine industry in general. They have created more wine drinkers. Large displays of inexpensive wines with cute labels lure beer drinkers into the previously intimidating wine sections of retail stores on a daily basis. Broadening the wine market is something that makes everyone in the wine business happy. A hard-and-fast statistic is hard to come by, but the general consensus is that only about a quarter of the US population ever drinks wine. For an industry to thrive, it needs consumers, the more the better. Enough said.
This blog will concentrate mainly on wines made the old-fashioned way. Wines made from grapes grown by actual people with actual vineyards, and actual wineries with actual addresses. Sure, there will be some exceptions, but that's the general idea. I'll share my wine discoveries with you and hope you will share yours with me. I'll discuss food & wine pairings and great restaurant meals. We'll have some book reviews and winery profiles. An occasional travel log blog. I'm very lucky to be able to call some brilliant winemakers and fascinating winery owners my friends, and hope to have some of them in for interviews in the near future.
Thanks for coming on this wine journey with me. It should be fun!