The Wine Industry's Morality Play: The Ways of Wine

Posted in Wine.

This film review was originally written for the online magazine, Eat Drink FilmsIt is used here with their permission. The Ways of Wine premiered in San Francisco on October 24th at Eat Drink Film's Food Day/Film Day celebration.

ways-of-wine-posterFor anyone who has ever worked in the wine business—or viewed the self-congratulating documentary, Somm—seeing El Camino del Vino (The Ways of Wine) should be mandatory. This delightful mock-umentary, directed by Argentinian filmmaker Nicolas Carreras, follows the jet-set life of real life Master Sommelier Charlie Arturaola to Mendoza, Argentina. In the film, Arturaola plays a fictionalized version of himself attending Mendoza’s glamorous Masters of Food and Wine event. As he shuffles between teaching master classes to attending highbrow trade tastings and stuffy wine dinners, his exhaustion eventually catches up with him and he loses his sense of taste—a veritable nightmare for any wine professional. What happens next is a cross between Doctor Faustus, A Christmas Carol and Field of Dreams.

The Evolution of Taste

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The Evolution of TasteI originally wrote this post for The San Francisco Wine Trading Company on their blog, "Let's Talk Wine." It is reused here with their permission.

This is the dawn of a new era for California wines. After years of trending in overly oaked Chardonnay and highly extracted Pinot Noir in California, a new ethic has been introduced into winemaking: balance. In the country that invented Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, we have grown accustomed to the predictability of taste—even in our wines—and obvious, uniform and sweet flavors have historically won out over nuance and subtlety. It only makes sense that big, bold, hit-you-over-the-head wines were once in vogue in America. However, much has changed since that era. As Americans are developing a greater conscientiousness around the provenance of food and drink, our palates are evolving, too.

The Benefits of Light-Bodied Reds

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I’m certainly not the first person to blog about the benefits of light-bodied red wines, and I hope I’m not the last. A crusade like this is worth fighting for. Not only are such wines easier on the palate, but they pair with the largest variety of dishes. The secret lies in the high acidity of the wine, which stimulates the saliva in the mouth, rather than tannins, which can dry out your gums. In his heyday, Robert Parker was said to taste up to 150 wines a day. Talk about palate-numbing. Towards the end of his career, the fact that most of the well-scored wines were also ones with the biggest tannins did not go unnoticed. It’s not that tannins are bad—au contraire—they are essential structure components to the long-term aging of a wine. It’s just that big clunky oak-bombs are going to overpower virtually every dish but red meat, which might have you reaching for more water rather than wine. Where’s the pleasure in that?

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