When the weather turns warm many of us feel inclined to pursue decidedly spring-like activities. Our short list of favorites includes spending time outdoors, foraging for fresh produce at farmer's markets and seeking out new wines to pair with the season's exuberant flavors and favorable forecast. Read on for some of our favorite selections for spring, along with - naturally - advice on food pairings and occasions for sipping. Santé!
WineCountry Staff: March 2008 Archives
By Robert Farmer
Years ago, before I began actually appreciating wine, I attended parties that featured wine that poured from a box. Granted, I was college-age or just a bit older, and the demographic of these parties was such that box wine was to be expected--indeed it was typically appreciated by the very few in attendance not drinking beer. But it also had the stigma of being, well, cheap. And in my more recent years, which have brought a personal wine-drinking evolution, little has changed my perception of that stigma.
By Robert Farmer
An ongoing debate among my wine-drinking friends and me is centered on the nature of so-called "big" red wines. Those who know me know that I like Big. Not saying I prefer big wines exclusively, but given the opportunity, I will call up something chewy, something that packs a punch, something with a more than a little heft. Typically that means I go for a substantial California Cabernet. But increasingly, big wines are being bottled in a number of varietals, and the phenomenon -- like so many other trends in wine - is causing it's fair share of controversy.
When it comes to sustainable wine practice there are those who talk the talk and there are those who walk the walk. For those interested in know more about the latter, there is Kunde Estate Winery & Vineyards (www.kunde.com). The winery that has been a staple in California's Wine Country for a century has also been farming sustainably for five generations. And they are more than happy to show you how it works.
By Courtney Cochran
In news that may come as surprising to some - and perhaps not so much to others - market research firm ACNielsen recently revealed that almost one in five of the table wine brands to hit the market in the last three years features an animal on its label. This leap in popularity of so-called critter wines is remarkable not just because the wines represent a break from traditional wine labeling, but also because the animals featured on the labels often have little or nothing to do with what's inside the bottle.
Dubbed non sequitur labels due to this disconnect between the label and what's inside the bottle, critter wines benefit from customers' association of the animals with themselves (e.g. pet owners often have an affinity for canine-themed labels). This flies in the face of traditional branding rationale, which argues that images should be strongly associated with the product - whether it be wine or anything else for that matter - being sold. But rather than perplexing, I find that this news confirms a suspicion I've long had that wine - made from a puzzlingly large number of grapes grown in regions all over the world and frequently marketed with labels in obscure languages - can sometimes seem about as relatable to American consumers as quantum physics. If at times it takes a critter label to break through all this clutter and strike a chord with the consumer, so be it.